Winning the Loyalty of Customers

Price is oftentimes king for customers and they’re all too willing to leave you if they see a lower number elsewhere. But there’s a type of customer that doesn’t care as much about that — millennials. Here are tips on how to take advantage of this large potential customer base and lock them down with personal attention rather than a low price.

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As a service professional, sometimes it can seem like it’s only about the price for customers. You have those customers who are only loyal until a Groupon pops up in their inbox. There are those just going through the search results, getting estimates from every contractor in the area, and selecting whichever company has the lowest quote.

You pride yourself on your fair prices, but there’s always going to be someone who will do the job for less. How can you compete? By tailoring your services to the customers who are willing to pay more for a better experience.

For many customers, price may be the top determining factor, but those awful millennials everyone loves to complain about are actually your kind of people. And they’re one of the largest generations in history, so if you can win them over, you’ll never want for customers. 

What’s the secret to winning them over and earning their loyalty?

This generation has been described as the generation that “values experiences over products.” They’re looking for personalized experiences and are willing to pay more for it. Forget about price for a moment. Ask yourself if you are providing a better customer experience than your competitors.

Consider a few stats from Microsoft’s 2016 Global State of Customer Service Report:

  • 67 percent of millennials have higher expectations for customer service than they did a year ago.
  • 78 percent of millennials expect a front-line customer service employee to know the basics about them (like their history with the company).
  • 68 percent of millennials have stopped doing business with a company because of a poor customer service experience.

No, this is nothing new. Good customer service has always been important. But for the millennial generation, it’s so important that it trumps price. Here are some ways you can personalize and improve the customer experience.

1. Have an informative website and take advantage of Google’s new Q&A feature on Google Maps.

89 percent of millennials use search engines like Google to find answers to their questions before calling a company. Does your website do a good job of answering those questions? A well-written FAQs page can address some customer concerns and an informative blog can be another great resource for customers. Google also now has a Q&A feature on Google Maps. Use this section to answer commonly asked questions or questions you think your customers may have about your company and services. You can even encourage your employees or loyal customers to ask questions. Just make sure you answer them.

2. Greet your customers by their first names and look for ways to make personal connections.

This goes back to Dale Carnegie’s tip in How To Win Friends And Influence People:  

“Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

You may already be doing this, but if not, train your team to address customers by their names. Additionally, keep in mind that millennials want a personalized experience, so practice emotional intelligence, and look for ways to connect and relate to your customers. Do you both love dogs? Coffee? Football? You can make that connection without dropping your professionalism, and it will make an imprint in your customer’s mind.

3. Offer multiple ways of contacting and scheduling.

According to an Accenture study, 73 percent of all consumers (not just millennials) become frustrated when providers fail to offer convenient interaction methods. Can your customers reach out to you in more ways than one, or is picking up the phone and calling you the only option? You don’t have to go overboard and make yourself available on every single platform out there. Who has the resources to manage that? But make yourself available on major platforms where your customers are likely to be, and make sure someone is ready to answer questions and help customers quickly. 52 percent of millennials use social media to ask customer service questions, so consider Facebook as a means of interaction at the very least.

An important note: If you don’t have the resources to quickly respond to customers on more than one platform, then don’t make yourself available on more than one. Nothing will turn a millennial customer off more than waiting and waiting for a response. In fact, they won’t wait, they’ll just move on to the next contractor.

4. Make scheduling frictionless.

Millennials are willing to pay more in return for a frictionless resolution and a more personalized experience. Do you make it easy to schedule? Are you respectful of their time or is scheduling a hassle? Is your appointment window a full work day or do you have short windows? Do you text or call when a technician is on the way or do you just show up? Evaluate your scheduling and service process and see if there are ways you can improve both to make the entire experience frictionless and more pleasant for your customers.

5. Ask for feedback.

When you’ve been operating a business for years, it can be hard to step back and see what you could do to improve and make the customer experience better.

Our advice: Ask your customers for feedback. According to a customer experience study quoted in the Huffington Post, 70 percent of companies that deliver best-in-class customer experiences rely on customer feedback. Doing this will help you identify where you’re falling short and reveal ways in which you can improve and make your company even more appealing. But that’s not the only reason to do it. Asking for feedback will also make your customers feel valued and heard, which means they’re less likely to shout your flaws and shortcomings all over Google, Yelp, and Facebook. It’s a win-win.

In The Price-War, Remember The Value You Bring

When it comes to complex situations, emotional situations, or solving issues, the millennial generation prefers human interaction to chat boxes or other digital options. So when they call you, they’re likely emotional, frustrated, and looking for answers.

Many customers come to you with no idea what to do. They come to you seeking a solution, trusting that you know better and can help. By recognizing the frustrated, emotional, and sometimes desperate state many of your customers are in by the time they pick up the phone to call you, you can meet them where they are, and offer empathy, reassurance, and comfort. And that goes a long way.

The key to overcoming the price-war is to remember the value you bring. You’re meeting needs that no one else can meet for your customers and helping them when they’re desperately seeking solutions. Some may take advantage of that and charge exorbitant prices for services that don’t really cost anything, while others may take advantage by offering the lowest price, doing poor work, and running with the money. Neither cares about the customer, and ultimately, the customer will figure that out.

But you can use the knowledge of where your customers are coming from to connect with them, empathize with them, and tailor the customer experience to their needs in their moment of crisis. And that’s how you build relationships (with people of all generations, not only millennials) and gain loyalty that sticks, even when a better deal or lower price comes along.

About the Authors

Carter Harkins and Taylor Hill are the co-founders of Spark Marketer, a Nashville, Tennessee-based digital marketing company that works primarily with service businesses. They’re also the co-hosts of the "Blue Collar Proud (BCP) Show," a podcast that’s all about having and living the blue collar dream, and the co-authors of the book, Blue Collar Proud: 10 Principles for Building a Kickass Business You Love. Both regularly speak at service industry trade shows and conferences across the nation. Visit facebook.com/sparkmarketerfacebook.com/bcpshow or facebook.com/groups/bluecollarproudnation.



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