What’s the secret sauce to those businesses that always seem to have plenty of completely satisfied customers? Give the people what they want – for free, writes Katrina McCarter, founder of Marketing to Mums.
When I took my kids to America in 2017, the place they loved most was the Magic Castle Hotel in L.A. It’s a mid-range motel. Not fancy. Yet it’s the most highly-desired hotel for families in Los Angeles and is consistently sold out.
What’s the secret? I was curious.
Turns out, it boils down to the hotel focusing all its marketing efforts on delivering an extraordinary customer experience by doing three very simple things:
1. A popsicle ‘hotline’ – anyone can pick up an old-fashioned red rotary phone and have staff deliver icy poles poolside. It’s legendary. Everyone wants a go.
2. No minibars – instead, you help yourself to free, full-size snacks (chocolates, chips, popcorn) in the lobby. Everyone loves it.
3. Free laundry – and it comes back gift-wrapped with a lavender sprig and handwritten message. Everyone is in awe.
These three things transformed the hotel and got everyone talking and referring friends.
What’s your Popsicle Hotline?
Now, when I’m working with a client I ask one question: “What’s your business’ Popsicle Hotline?”
The key message is the more work you do to double down on improving your customer experience, the less you need to rely on advertising. Why? You’ll activate word-of-mouth marketing, where your existing clients rave about you and drive leads and acquisition on your behalf.
According to a 2021 CommBank Retail Insights report, 83 per cent of business owners believe customer experience is very important to their business strategy, yet only 30 per cent rate their customer service as being greater than nine out of ten.
That tells me that a great customer experience can turn a client into a raving fan who actively advocates for your business.
3 free ways to deliver an awesome customer experience
- Be engaged
Your customers want to interact with you. Let them, through social media channels, a chat line on your website, and blog comments.
Invest regular time weekly, if not daily. It drives engagement, lets you develop a relationship, gather greater insights into your target market, and help prospective clients on the path to purchase and then to stay engaged.
- Be responsive
Mistakes happen in business; how we deal with them sets us apart from competitors. Your job is to have a process to resolving problems by taking the lead.
A negative comment on your Facebook page is an excellent opportunity to show how you handle issues. It gives a more balanced assessment of your business and makes positive reviews stand out even more.
- Be extraordinary
The fastest way to build your army of raving fans is to exceed expectations.
Mums in particular demand a high level of customer service as they are time poor, juggling multiple commitments, and well researched. Delight a mother by exceeding her expectations and you have a powerful competitive advantage.
Sometimes the unexpected is simply a handwritten note inside your orders, a card sent out to top clients letting them know how much you enjoy working with them, or a bonus service offering.
Work out what free, consistent, awesome customer experience you can deliver, and your customers will act as your most cost-effective marketing tool.
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