No one ever attains very eminent success by simply doing what is required of him; it is the amount and excellence of what is over and above the required that determines the greatness of ultimate distinction. —Charles Kendall Adams
By Phillip Chichoni
The other day I stopped by a restaurant near the office to get some lunch. I wanted to grab a takeaway as I had previously found this place too packed for sitting in during the lunch hour. This time, however, it was nearly empty so I decided to sit down.
As I had my meal, I expressed my surprise at that situation to a fellow diner.
“Yeah,” he said. “They have lowered their standards and even serve smaller portions for the same price.”
“Oh, that’s the reason people no longer flock in like in the early days?” I quipped.
The gentleman went on, “These business operators take us for granted. When they are new they make good food. When many customers start coming, they reduce the quality hoping to make a killing. But they are not going to be around for long. People talk.”
Yes, people talk and mostly with their feet. But those who talk loudly with their mouths will do more harm to your business when they tell their friends and relatives about your bad product or service.
On the other hand, if they rave positively about your business, you will do great. You probably know that smartphone maker Apple Inc is one of the most valuable companies in the world.
Every few years Apple releases a new model and its raving fans spend hours in queues, sometimes overnight, just to get a piece of the new gadget. Because of raving fans, Apple is guaranteed of big sales for each new model they release.
Recently, China became the biggest market for Apple, with customers there buying 74,5 million IPhones in the last quarter of 2014. This earned Apple the biggest profit ever for a public listed company, US$18 billion.
Raving fans for businesses are the business’ advocates and would never consider taking their business elsewhere. That’s a tall order in this highly competitive market place, but it is possible.
If your company had raving fans like Apple’s, its growth would be unstoppable. Although you are not likely to grow as big as Apple, the following tips will help you at least beat the competition and achieve growth.
Provide an exceptional product
Many small businesses, like the restaurant I mentioned earlier, provide very good products when starting. When they have attracted many customers, they start slackening. If you want to build a large following of raving fans, ensure your products and services are exceptional all the time. Work on continuously improving your offering.
Good customer service is not enough
Almost every business owner knows the importance of good customer service. To get raving fans, you need exceptional, killer customer service.
I experienced exceptional customer service from FBC Bank a few months back. When PayPal became available in Zimbabwe last year, it was only for sending money outside the country, not for receiving. I intended to set up a PayPal merchant account for my online digital store.
Searches on the internet showed some ways involving tricks like getting a postal address in the US and sending money to Bookmakers to activate the account.
Frustrated, I sent an email to FBC help centre to ask if there was a way to get a PayPal merchant account in Zimbabwe through their debit card. They could have referred me to their website to get the information on how to do so.
But instead, they copied and pasted the relevant information and sent it to me via email straight away and I read it without having to log onto their website.
Keep your commitments
If you tell a customer you are going to do something, do it. Case closed. Think about the last time you had to get your car repaired.
Did you go in for an estimate, agree to the repair cost, and all of a sudden the cost went up? Or, did you purchase a service that required some time to be completed and you were told two to four weeks, but you only got your documents eight weeks later?
Companies that make empty promises just to gain business usually end up out of business.
The best way to make raving fan customers is to keep those commitments and promises. If a situation comes up that is out of your control making it impossible to honour your commitment, keep the customer informed and do everything you can to make it right.
Educate your customers
Whether it’s a personal phone call, an email, or through social media, you can create raving fan customers by keeping them informed. Let them know when new products or services are available, if a promotion is around the corner, or if there is an unexpected issue with a product so it can be repaired or replaced.
Try these tips for ensuring you have raving fan customers and watch your business grow through customer advocacy and loyalty.
Phillip Chichoni is a business development consultant who works with SMEs and entrepreneurs. You may contact him by email, email@example.com.
You can also visit http://smebusinesslink.com