Meeting customer expectations is critical to running a successful business. In this blog post we’ll cover how focusing on expectations can accelerate your business growth.
When you meet evolving expectations, your customers come to trust you. When they trust you, they are likely to be loyal as long as you continue offering what they need. Not only will they bring their business back when they need another product or service you offer, but they’ll become the best kind of customer: a brand advocate. From recommending you to their friends to leaving positive reviews online, brand advocates are the fuel to a thriving small business.
Typically a loyal customer is someone who:
Contrary to popular belief, earning a customer’s loyalty isn’t a long-term guarantee that they won’t take their business elsewhere. Their loyalty typically lasts as long as their evolving needs continue to be met. That means that even once you’ve won a customer’s trust and return business, you still need to constantly innovate and help them gain more potential value.
Here’s an example of what that might look like for a plumbing business sending a follow-up text message to a customer:
Even though it takes maintenance to keep their business, a loyal customer is still a huge asset. Here are the biggest ways they grow your business.
When you meet a customers’ expectations and earn their loyalty, they become your greatest asset. Here are the three top ways they grow your brand.
Loyal customers are the ones that keep returning. If you run a dental practice, they are the patients who schedule their six month follow-up during their current appointment. If you operate a coffee shop, they’re the patron stepping through your door every single day at the same time.
“91% of those polled say they're more likely to make a repeat purchase after a positive experience, and 71% say they’ve made a purchase decision based on experience quality.” - Salesforce Research5
That consistent business is, of course, important. But loyal customers are actually doing a lot more for you than just bringing their own business. There are two more ways loyal customers actively help you grow.
Your most loyal customers want to get the word out about your business. They’ll go to work as a brand evangelist (a.k.a. free advertising) letting friends and family know about their experience with you and recommending others give your business a try.
So, why do loyal customers discuss their service experiences and make recommendations to their peers?
For the very same reasons people discuss negative service experiences and warn people away from businesses! Consider these possibilities:
Hearing about a business from a trusted connection is one of the highest endorsements. In fact, it’s the very best way to show your business is trustworthy and fast track your sales process.
Dr. Robert Cialdini is famous for his psychological research of the factors that influence our behavior. His research demonstrated that “social proof” is one of the most powerful motivators. “Social proof” simply means seeing or hearing that people similar to you are making a certain choice or taking a certain action.
One of Dr. Cialdini’s studies analyzed a hotel chain that wanted to incentivize customers to reuse their towels during a multi-day stay. After signs that referenced environmental reasons only saw 35% compliance, they changed to signs that said “75% of our guests reuse their towels at some time during their stay, so please do so as well.” The new signs resulted in a 33% increase in the number of people who reused their towels!
How powerful would it be for your prospective customers to see evidence of their network choosing (and loving) your business?
Pro tip: Never forget to thank customers who go out of their way to recommend you. A small gift or handwritten note means a lot and only takes a few minutes!
Loyal customers get the word out even beyond their personal networks. In our digital world, their high opinions of you often end up making their way online.
When someone writes a review of your business on Google, Yelp, or Facebook, you are more likely to be selected by a searcher.
Forbes Magazine said that when someone sees a business online, one of the first things at least 87% of searchers will look at is your reviews.
And not only do you win over searchers who happen to see your business, but you are actually more likely to be found by people searching online. One of the most important factors that determines your ranking on Google is the number and recency of your reviews.
“Reviews (along with an owner’s response) show that consumers trust a business, and trust is a foundational factor in ranking.” - Local Search Ranking Factors by Moz
When you show up higher in a local searchers’ Google results and have great reviews to back up your reputation, they are more likely to give your business a chance and become your newest customer.
One perk that lots of businesses overlook is that customers who find you via your reputation are often the very best type. They already see your products or services as desirable and require less marketing to make a purchase. Since you led with your great reputation, you’ve already won their trust. All that’s left to do–although we know it’s easier said than done–is to live up to their expectations.
It’s clear that meeting expectations and providing an excellent customer experience is one of the best ways to earn new business. Whether through loyal customers who keep coming back, referrals from those customers, or new customers who found you via your reputation online–it’s worth it to focus on expectations.
Download our complete guide for small business success: How Top Small Businesses Win the Customer Experience