If you had the budget to spend billions of dollars on advertising, you’d still find the results pale in comparison to what can be accomplished with solid word of mouth. When it comes to the marketplace, shoppers trust other shoppers far more than ads. With this in mind, turning customers into brand advocates should be one of your most earnest efforts. Here’s how to get it accomplished.
Keep to the Golden Rule
“Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.” If everyone lived by those 10 words lives on earth would be paradise. Sadly, too many people place their own interests ahead of everyone else’s and behave accordingly. Treating your customers, the way you’d want to be treated in a similar circumstance infuses interactions with compassion. Even more, it tells customers you’re willing to go above and beyond to assure their satisfaction. They will respond with loyalty and strong words of praise.
Anticipate Their Needs and Fulfill Them
Look ahead to solve customers’ problems before they know they have them. Should you learn a shipment is going to be delayed, tell the customer right away so they can plan around it. If you discover the delayed product is something they desperately need, go out of your way to make sure they get it—even if you have to purchase it from a competitor. Train your customer service team to treat customers like highly regarded members of the family. Provide a chat option for customer service so they don’t have to wait on the phone inordinate amounts of time. You’ll create a strong fan base when you make every effort to meet their unexpressed needs.
Reward Loyalty and Referrals
Shower your returning customers with gifts, discounts, and other special treatment. Let’s say you’re opening an ebook store. As you’re thinking about how to sell ebooks on your own website, consider giving first-time customers a discount on their second purchase. Mine repeat customers’ buying histories to give them deals on items complementary to others they’ve purchased in the past. Survey your customer base to find out what they like most about shopping your site and their interactions with you. Excerpt quotes from their responses and post them on the site as testimonials (with their permission—of course.). Recognize your patrons’ support and they’ll feel appreciated. When they tell others about you, give them a free gift and a small discount to first-time shoppers who visit your site with a referral code. Come up with new and innovative ways to say “I appreciate you.”
Personalize The Shopping Experience
Take every opportunity to humanize your store. Address each customer by name in all emails. Train your customer service team to do the same, after asking if it is OK to use their first name. You want your customers to recognize they’re dealing with people as opposed to some faceless entity to which they need assign no affinity. Conveniences such as one-click checkout for returning customers, along with wish lists make the buying process easier for your loyal customers. And, whatever else you do, value their time. Make every transaction as easy and smooth as it can be.
Embrace & Reflect Their Values
A big part of running an ecommerce site is knowing who your customers are and what they consider important. Conduct some demographic research to get inside the minds of your repeat buyers. Even if you haven’t made a determined attempt to attract a particular type of person, you’ll usually find you’ve done so anyway. Like-minded people are attracted to the same things. Once you know who they are and what they consider important, you can make a concerted effort to reflect these values in your marketing campaigns. You can also add features, content and visuals to your site to more thoroughly embrace those qualities. Doing extra things to make them feel at home will increase the frequency of their visits and inspire them to tell others how great you are.
Turning customers into advocates is just a matter of treating shoppers like valued friends—and giving them an opportunity to tell others how much they enjoy doing business with you. It really is as simple as doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.