The Personal Approach May Be All You Need to Keep Customers Happy and Coming Back

young woman holding a big yellow smiley

Customers like doing business with companies that not only provide strong services, but help them feel engaged or, at the very least, give them a sense of trust. Doing that can be tricky, though. That’s why we asked 15 members from the Young Entrepreneur Council this question:

Q. What is one way that goes above and beyond expectations that you’ve found keeps customers happy and coming back?

1. Give customers exactly what they need

My industry—infrastructure hosting—thrives on aggressive upselling and cross-selling, but we’ve found that instead of trying to sell customers as much as possible, it’s better to work with them to understand what they really need and provide just that. What we “lose” on each sale, we gain in customer loyalty, reduced churn, and positive word-of-mouth. —Justin BlanchardServerMania Inc.

2. Respond to your customers within 24 to 48 hours

Customers these days expect a quick response due to customer service reaching new heights through companies like Zappos or Nordstrom. If you can’t respond to your customers in 24 to 48 hours, you need to fix your process. Give your customers answers, help them out when they need it, and they will keep coming back. —Andy KaruzaFenSens

3. Physically mail holiday cards

It’s old-fashioned, and in a sense conventional, but nobody mails holiday cards anymore. It’s easy to trade off an impersonal email, but when you receive something tangible in the mail—especially from a business partner—it really means something. It’s a good approach and one not enough companies take. —Nicole MunozStart Ranking Now

4. Add value in unrelated areas

When you’re interacting with customers, the goal should be to truly understand the problems they are facing—and, ideally, your product or solution will solve one of them. What about other problems, though? If you can provide introductions or feedback that helps customers overcome unrelated problems, they will view you as not only a vendor, but a solution provider. Everyone is happy to pay money for solutions. —Douglas HutchingsPicasolar

5. Always being ready and willing to make introductions

As the founder and CEO of a marketing agency, I’ve developed relationships with venture capitalists and investors. We end up with a lot of great clients who hit a point where they want to raise money, so I will make introductions and try to help them do so. It’s a win for everyone. Investors need deal flow, clients need money and—if they raise it—they usually hire us to help them grow. —Erik HubermanHawke Media

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6. Thank them personally

Thank your customers personally—it’s simple, effective, and doesn’t cost anything. Customers are not accustomed to being thanked. When they say, “Thank you,” most businesses respond, “You’re welcome,” when, in reality, they should be saying “Thank you” in return. You need to show customers how much you appreciate that they chose you over the competition. It works every time we do it in our company. —Peter DaisymeDue

RELATED: 12 Ways to Improve Your Customers’ In-Store Experience

7. Provide good news

My clients pay thousands of dollars for a service, and since our service is highly consultative, results may not be seen until months down the road. Keeping them informed about the process—specifically any good news—always reassures them that they’ve made the right business decision choosing us. —Duran InciOptimum7

8. Send thoughtful, handwritten thank-you notes

Invest the time to write thoughtful, handwritten thank-you notes to thank your customers for their business. In a world where people are barraged by emails, it has likely been years since they have received a handwritten thank-you note. You will be surprised by how investing two minutes now to show you genuinely care and appreciate your customers’ business can result in many years of dividends. —Doug BendBend Law Group, PC

9. Create a preferred customer list

As an online business, the best way to get my customers to come back is to customize my website in a way where they can create a personal account with us. This way, we set up a preferred customer account where they can easily place recurring orders. We also are able to send them exclusive promotional emails about their favorite products. —Patrick BarnhillSpecialist ID, Inc.

10. Invite them to be part of your community

Our team sponsors a lot of food festivals and also puts on events for the community. One of the things that our customers love is that we provide free tickets to these events to help them see where we get our inspiration, and it gives them an insight into what we love to do for fun. This approach has helped us deepen a lot of relationships with those we work with, as we’re able to bond outside of work. —Kenny NguyenBig Fish Presentations

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11. Be proactive

Our goal is to give our clients what they want—before they ask for it. Whether it be resolving an issue, making an upgrade, or going out of our way to engage with them, being proactive shows that we understand our customers and care about their experience. —Douglas BaldasareChargeItSpot

12. Send little gifts

I’ve started sending gifts to people that I’ve had great client or partner relationships with, first as a way of to show gratitude in my life, and then as a way to build closer relationships. It’s always fun to see when they post the gifts on social media. —Adam SteeleThe Magistrate


13. Provide a simple and unconditional guarantee

Our customers don’t need a lawyer to get their money back. We make our guarantee easy to understand, meaningful, easy to invoke, and easy to collect. They don’t have to jump through hoops if things don’t work out. We’re here for the long haul, not the short game, and this strategy has proven itself with repeat customers during the last six years we’ve been in business. —Chris BrissonSalesmsg

14. Don’t assume—ask them what they want

When was the last time you asked a customer, “What would make you happy?” As marketers of our own brands, we make assumptions about what we think will please our customers because we’ve studied their pain points and assume we know best as the product experts. My team’s greatest accomplishments have come out of directly asking customers what they want more of. —Sharam Fouladgar-MercerAirPR

15. Under promise and over deliver

People don’t want empty promises, especially in a consumer situation. “Under promise and over deliver” should be the motto for your business and your customer service approach. I think giving a realistic response to questions and queries is the best way to go. Honesty tends to reflect well upon your business; unsatisfied customers who feel lied to or betrayed are the ones who make waves. —Bryce WelkerCrush The CPA Exam

RELATED: 5 Customer Service Lessons Every Business Needs to Learn

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