Returning customers are worth their weight in gold. They’ve already discovered your business and decided to buy, so the most challenging and expensive parts of your marketing activities are over. Now it’s time to follow through on your promises and convince them to purchase again and again.
Unfortunately, that’s often easier said than done — especially for businesses in the growth phase. For a thousand different reasons, those owners often spend most of their time working on the most critical tasks at the moment rather than focusing on the strategic initiatives that support longer-term growth.
That old marketing maxim says finding new customers costs five times more than retaining an existing one. That’s why it’s critical to break free from working moment-to-moment and begin developing the habits and processes that will motivate your customers to buy again. One of the first and best places to start this process is with your customer service efforts.
Battle Rhythms Build Consistency
Winning organizations build their customer service approach on a foundation of consistency. When your entire team follows the same guidelines and provides a high level of service to everyone, your customers will notice. You’ll also set yourself apart from the competitors who can’t or won’t match your efforts. This transformation won’t happen on its own, however. Instead, it begins by developing daily habits that put the customer front and center.
During the Zyia Active Virtual Summit, our bi-annual conference for sales representatives, Navy veteran Allison Hills introduced us to the concept of battle rhythms. Our armed forces use this technique to synchronize daily activities across responsibilities to support current and future operations. When used in a business setting, battle rhythms help build the habits you’ll need to make significant organizational changes and keep your team moving in the same direction.
You can start using this technique by creating goals that are relevant to improving your customer service. For example, you might want to follow up on every new purchase within 72 hours or respond to new leads within one business day. Once you’ve established these high-impact customer service goals, you can create the daily tasks that will help you accomplish them. When you consistently perform these battle rhythms, they become habits, and before long, you’ll begin making a significant difference with your customers.
These goals and habits won’t be the same for everyone. After all, retail customer service looks a lot different than business-to-business sales. These habits may even be different within the same organization depending on the person’s role or responsibility. Whatever battle rhythms you put in place, be sure to reevaluate your activities regularly to ensure they’re always moving you closer to your goal.
Design Habits with Proactive Customer Service in Mind
While reactive customer service is critical, proactive customer service can be your secret weapon for creating a loyal group of frequent buyers. Proactive efforts make your customers feel like they’re more than just an anonymous transaction. It also gives you a tremendous opportunity to solicit feedback from a valuable group of stakeholders.
As you review your battle plan objectives, look for opportunities where your team can contact customers before they have a specific need. While every business is different, these opportunities often exist at weekly, monthly and quarterly intervals.
Daily Customer Service Opportunities
If you own a business where there’s constant customer interaction — like in a retail or restaurant setting — you’ll have plenty of opportunities to check in with buyers. Training your team to ask leading questions that probe your customers’ experience can reveal opportunities for improvement and make the people you interact with feel cared for.
Even if you don’t see customers every day, you can still make a point of interacting with them on a daily basis through social media, emails or phone calls. The goal is to help your customers by providing useful information that gets them closer to making another purchase.
If you approach these daily interactions with an attitude of service, you’ll begin strengthening your relationships, developing brand loyalty with a core constituency, and inspiring your customers to purchase again.
Weekly Customer Service Opportunities
Apart from daily interactions, you’ll want to find opportunities to connect with customers on an ongoing basis. Setting up weekly habits where you reach out to past customers with an email or phone call or send out a newsletter update gives you the chance to stay front-and-center with loyal buyers.
These ongoing interactions are also the perfect opportunity to seek out feedback. Some businesses avoid this because they’re concerned about receiving bad reviews. However, complaints are often fertile ground for developing new products, services or procedures that better meet customers' needs. Very few complaints are unique. If you hear negative feedback from one customer, you can bet many more feel the same way.
Monthly Customer Service Opportunities
Business owners are certainly used to rejection. But sometimes, when a customer says “no,” they actually mean “not right now” instead of “never.” That’s why it’s essential to communicate with customers to determine what they really want and then create systems that honor their requests. In some cases, this means you may only communicate with some customers on a monthly or even quarterly basis to follow up and find out if they’re ready to take another step. A more infrequent customer service approach is also useful for organizations with sales cycles that last months or even years.
Following up with a potential customer every three months can still be a potent habit. It demonstrates that you place a high value on your potential relationship. It also shows that you can listen and prioritize their needs over yours. Even if you hear another no, take that opportunity to ask more questions and see if you can follow up at a later date. As you develop your customer service goals, look for opportunities to continue engaging these long-tail customers. Because once they’ve finally decided to purchase, they could become your most loyal group of buyers.
Offering Unbeatable Customer Service Delivers Big Returns
Providing unbeatable customer service is one of the fastest ways to set your organization apart in a very competitive marketplace. If you’re in the growth phase, take some time to break away from the madness and think strategically about how you can begin building these habits into your everyday workflow. Mature businesses can also refocus their energy on nurturing customer relationships to build more loyalty.
These efforts will be challenging, but they’ll also pay big dividends. By using battle rhythms to develop customer-centric practices, you’ll create a system where you can continuously receive feedback and develop responsive solutions. As a result, your company will always be evolving to meet your customer’s changing needs, which creates a fertile environment for innovation and ongoing success. That’s an exciting proposition that should energize any business owner.
About Erin Bradley:
Erin Bradley is the Founder and CEO of Zyia Active, an activewear lifestyle brand that believes in embracing physical activity with excitement, vigor, and delight. Since founding the company in 2017, Erin has led Zyia’s growth from inception to its position today as a leading activewear brand. As CEO, Erin is heavily involved in the design process of the company’s high-quality activewear; from coordinating product releases to managing production schedules to planning photoshoots. Erin was named a 2020 Ernst & Young LLP National Entrepreneur of the Year®, and Zyia Active has been recognized as a Utah Business Fastest Growing company and a Mountain West Capital Network Emerging Elite company.