Learning how to treat customers how they want to be treated is vital to small business growth. The latest research proves this from many angles. For example, consider these customer service statistics:
- 81 percent of customers say a positive customer service experience increases their chances of buying from that company again.
- 95 percent of consumers say that customer service is an important factor for brand loyalty.
- 61 percent of consumers would switch to a competitor after just one poor customer service experience.
- 62 percent of customers stay they share bad customer service experiences with others.
Customer service doesn’t just include how you interact with a person making a purchase. It includes everything your business does to help the customer before, during, and after their purchase. Every interaction counts! That’s why excelling at customer service can quickly build your small business brand.
While the definition of ‘good customer service’ may vary, it can be summarized with a simple statement: treat customers how they want to be treated. Quality customer service involves understanding your customers’ expectations and determining how your business can meet (and exceed!) those expectations.
So, how do customers want to be treated? This article will focus on seven customer expectations and share tips on exceeding those expectations so you can treat customers how they want to be treated.
7 Customer Expectations You Need to Meet
Our question is how to treat customers how they want to be treated. So, we begin by examining customer expectations of their interactions with businesses. Only then can we determine how they want to be treated and what your business can do to meet those needs.
1. Customers want to be treated as humans (not numbers).
As a small business owner, keeping an eye on the numbers is important. But behind every number and every sale is a real living, breathing human being who chose to do business with you over the competition. The experience is personal to them, and they want to be treated as humans. So how can you achieve this?
- Human Communication: Talk to your customers. Get to know who they are and their goals, needs, and pain points. Learn their names and use them during and at the end of each interaction.
- Show Your Humanness: Another great idea is to show them you’re human too. Create a relatable brand that shows your customers who you are and gives them a glimpse of the real people inside your business.
- Partnerships: Treat your customers like they are partners. Show them that it’s more than just a transaction to you—you are interested in a long-term partnership where you help them reach their goals.
And for even more tips on increasing personalization in your small business, check out this latest research from McKinsey.
2. Customers want to be treated with respect
Respect goes a long way with your customers, even (or perhaps especially) with those who are angry or voicing critical feedback. Learning how to treat customers with respect in every interaction is a must. Here are some basic principles:
- Listen: Respect is not always about what you say; it’s about how well you listen. Listening shows them that you care about their experience and perspective and want to learn from them.
- Proper Language: Always be thoughtful with your language when interacting with customers. It goes a long way when you and your staff demonstrate good manners.
- Train Your Team: Provide quarterly training for your employees on how to engage and handle negative customer feedback. Make sure your employees understand your standards for providing customer service and empower them to fix customer problems within a certain dollar amount.
- Consider the Channel: Think about the other channels you use for customer communications (social media, email, phone, live chat, etc.) and set standards for respectful customer service on those platforms too.
3. Customers want to be understood.
When it comes to how to treat customers, they expect to be understood. After all, if a customer feels like “the company just doesn’t get me, “ they will find someone else.
Showing customers that you understand them takes work, but it is worth it!
- You’ll need to research your market to understand their pain points.
- You’ll want to create segmented customer buyer personas.
- You’ll have to dig into your customer analytics to discover what the data tells you.
- You can even survey your customers to get their insights.
4. Customers want to be appreciated.
Customers have a LOT of choices these days, so when they choose your small business, it’s a BIG deal—to you and them. How are you showing that you appreciate their business? Appreciation can go a long way in developing long-term customer relationships, so here are some ideas to help:
- Say Thank You: The easiest way to show appreciation is to genuinely thank your customers for their business. Make it a habit at every transaction and train your staff to do the same.
- Reward Loyalty: You can also demonstrate how important their business is to you by rewarding them with coupons, discounts, exclusive offers, or even a full-fledged customer loyalty program.
- Show the Love: You wouldn’t exist without your customers! Which is why look for opportunities to show your customers love. This article has ten amazing ways you can show customers love all year round.
5. Customers want it to be simple to do business with you.
One big insight into how to treat customers is to remember that today’s customers want a simple, frictionless experience when they do business with you. They’ve grown to expect this sort of treatment from big companies, and they want it from small companies as well.
Here are some tips:
- Online and Accurate: 97 percent of consumers search online to find local businesses. You can make it simpler to do business with you by setting up your website and Google Business profile and ensuring it has up-to-date information (address, store hours, etc.).
- Frictionless Shopping Cart Experience: Don’t make customers sign-up for an account to do business with you. Offer a guest check-out option and then prompt them to create a login after the purchase.
- Give Multiple Options: Today’s customers want options! Survey them and use that information to determine which communication channels you should set up, which payment methods you should offer, etc.
- Consider Convenience: Layout your full sales funnel so you understand the steps and stages customers go through when doing business with you. Then analyze each step of the journey to find ways you can make the experience more convenient and effortless for your customer.
6. Customers want a quick resolution.
When it comes to how to treat customers, you’ll want to put yourself in their shoes – which shouldn’t be too hard to do because you are a customer of many businesses too. And when you have a question, problem, or issue, chances are you expect the company to provide a quick and satisfactory resolution.
While you may be a small business with limited resources and staff, you can still meet (and exceed!) this customer expectation. Here are some ideas.
- Set Expectations: If a customer or prospect fills out your contact form, how soon can they expect an answer? If they message you on Facebook or your chatbot, what is your response time? Communicate expectations upfront, so customers understand.
- Train Your Staff: The fastest way to resolve a customer complaint or question is to have knowledgeable staff who you have empowered to solve customer issues. Train them well and give them access to the resources they need to handle customer issues.
- Create an FAQ: Consider setting up an FAQ on your website to answer the most frequently asked questions that come into your business. That way, customers can find a quick resolution on their own.
7. Customers want to be delighted.
All small business owners who want to treat customers how they want to be treated must consider that today’s customers expect to be delighted. They want a stellar customer experience. They want to be wowed.
So how can you do this in your small business? Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Be the Expert: Customers love to turn to people they see as experts in their field. You can demonstrate your expertise by staying up-to-date with your industry and sharing your knowledge through blog posts and content marketing.
- Connect: Today’s customers want to connect with brands they love. They want to learn about your mission, relate to your personality, and identify with what you do. My recommendation? Check out this podcast about choosing the right social media platform for your business, then build your audience and establish your presence!
- Surpass Expectations: Once you know what your customers expect from your business, brainstorm how you can go one step further. Up your personalization game, find ways to be more appreciative, and go above and beyond when engaging customers.
How to Treat Customers How They Want to Be Treated
Small business owners should strive to become the best at customer service. It’s one of the important ways small guys can outshine larger competitors and win more loyal customers. The key is to learn how to treat customers how they want to be treated.
This article shared seven common expectations customers have, along with tips on how you can meet (and exceed!) these expectations. Now I encourage you to take it a step further. Think specifically about your customers. What do they expect when they do business with you (or your competitors)? And how can you take that knowledge and raise the bar of customer service in your small business? For more guidance, I encourage you to check out my article How to Create a Culture of Customer Service. Best of luck to you and your small business!