You might think dogs are an unlikely source of inspiration for your customers, but you’d be surprised how similar they can be. I don’t mean to denigrate your customers! Quite the contrary. I think if customers were more like dogs in the following four ways, we’d all have more business than we could handle.
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What’s the first quality you think of when it comes to dogs? Loyalty! They’re there with wagging tails, whether we feed them, walk them, or ignore them. And when we treat them well? That loyalty skyrockets.
You already know that having loyal customers is great for business. It’s easier—and cheaper—to get past customers to come back than to find new ones. So consider ways you can build loyalty with your customer base.
- Create a fantastic product and customer experience that keeps them clamoring for more.
- Treat them well after the sale; stay in touch with relevant email offers.
- Send surprising gifts, like maybe a freebie if they give you a particularly glowing Yelp review.
2. Managed Expectations
We all learned about the Pavlovian response for dogs in grade school. Do something enough and the dog will come to expect it, whether it’s shaking the leash (walk!) or moving toward the food bag (dinner!). My dog assumes I want to take her for a walk whenever I put on shoes, and she’s often disappointed, but that’s neither here nor there.
If you deliver an unpleasant experience, your customers will quickly assume that’s what they should expect in the future, and they’ll go elsewhere with their dollars. But if you reward them with over-the-top customer service and stellar products, they’ll come back for more, as that will be what they expect from you.
- Be consistent in your service, from the first point of contact until beyond the sale. Train your sales team constantly.
- Have a plan to manage unhappy customers so that you turn them into raving evangelists.
- Pay attention to the cues your customers show you and constantly look for ways to improve.
Dogs are actually harder to train than customers. You can’t always communicate the benefit that they’ll receive if they, for example, sit. It takes them a while to realize, “Hey, if I sit, she’ll give me a tasty chicken treat!”
In that same vein, if you strive to offer your customers the best, they’ll do what you want. They’ll open your emails and click the links. They’ll buy more from you. Review you on Yelp. Tell their friends about you. Share your content on social media. Just show them the reason they should be obedient, and they’ll do it.
- Look at your analytics to see what people want from your website. Deliver more of it.
- Wherever customers aren’t doing what you want, change it. Try out different ideas.
- Reward obedience! Send past customers perks and discounts on future orders.
My dog, Apple, is pretty predictible. She gets the zoomies around 7 p.m. and runs like a crazy beast for a while. Then she settles down on my son’s bed at bedtime. I know her patterns and can work around them.
The more time you spend paying attention to your customers, the more you’ll be able to predict their behavior. If you know that you’ve got a 30 pecent chance of getting a Yelp review from a new customer if you email them a link to your Yelp page within 24 hours, do it! If you know that customers are more likely to buy from you again 90 days after the initial purchase, make sure you’ve got an email nurture campaign set up to accommodate.
- Look for patterns across your customer base. Your analytics, email marketing, and sales data will help.
- Create workflows to maximize those patterns to work in your favor.
- Automate whatever you can so potential sales don’t slip through the cracks.
You love your customers, just like you love your dog if you have one. With a bit of love and nurturing, you can make the most of that relationship.
More from AllBusiness.com:
- 10 Things to Be Grateful for as an Entrepreneur
- The Secrets to Happy Customers
- 9 Apps Entrepreneurs Love
Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in marketing communications, copywriting and blog posts for the software industry. She’s written three books: DIY Press Releases: Your Guide to Becoming Your Own PR Consultant, 101 Entrepreneur Tips and Internet Marketing Strategies for Entrepreneurs, and has blogged for several sites, including The Marketing Eggspert Blog, as well asCorpNet, Small Business Trends, Chamber of Commerce, and ScheduleBase. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.