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Africa startup advice series: How to make your customers smile

By , ITWeb
Africa , 12 May 2015

Africa startup advice series: How to make your customers smile

Happy customers are critical to the long term success of a business. Am I stating the obvious? It should go without saying, yet few businesses demonstrate an understanding of the impact that happy customers have on a business.

Happy customers are future customers. You don't have to market to them, sell to them, convert them, or spend money on acquiring them. It is much easier to sell to an existing customer than find a new one.

Happy customers will buy more from you, again and again, and are often willing to pay more. They will recommend your product or service to others, and ultimately become your outsourced sales team!

But the formula to create happy customers seems to escape most businesses.

How do you make customers S-M-I-L-E?

S – Service Culture

Happy customers are created by companies that subscribe to a culture of customer service. If service is not one of your company's values, the chances are that no one is thinking about it. Businesses need to define the concept of customer service in the context of the industry and the business. Ask your good customers what turns them on... why do they do business with you? What do they want and expect from your company? Then create a service system that aligns what you offer to what the customer needs.

M – Moments of Truth

Take time to work out what the touch points are in your business. At what point in your customer interaction can you win or lose, impress or disappoint, make or break? Is it the first impression when they walk through the door or get through on the phone? Is it at the point of delivering the product or service? Is it the way you communicate throughout the process? Do they need reassurance that they made the right choice after making the purchase? Once you have identified your moments of truth, you can structure your approach to ensure you win, impress and solidify the relationship.

I – Innovation

This is about staying on top of your game and finding points of differentiation that continuously surprise and delight your customers. It is not good enough to offer the same service as your competitors – that makes you mediocre, one of the pack, same-old-same-old. Think out of the box and find an unexpected new wow factor to impress your customers.

L – Loyalty

Remember that your customers could get the same product or service from a multitude of competitor businesses. What are you doing to secure your customers' loyalty? What can you throw in as an added extra? What reward system can you implement? How do you make your customers feel like they are on your A-list?

E – Expectations

Service is about meeting your customer's expectations. Service excellence is about exceeding your customer's expectations. Here, the most common error businesses make is to over-promise and under-deliver. Expectations need to be carefully managed. There is no greater way to lock in repeat business and referrals than to deliver more than what was promised.

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