As a young entrepreneur, you probably want your business to be successful. And a successful business relies on customers who will spend their money to buy your product or hire your service. Therefore, it is to your benefit to make your customers happy.
But who are these “customers?” And how can you know what they want?
While there is no “one size fits all” model for customer service, there are a few tricks business use that you can tweak as needed.
First, let’s figure out who your customers are.
If you are starting an online translation service, your target customers will be a different group than, say, if you were making backpack hangers for middle schoolers. As you develop both your product/service and your business plan, it may be helpful to create what’s known as a customer persona. A customer persona is basically a mini-bio for the person you imagine will be interested in your product. For your online translation service, your target customer might be a small business owner in their 30s or 40s, successful, and looking to expand to other countries. When you create a customer persona, you are focusing on specific needs that your business is there to fill.
The six tips listed below come from years of studies that can be summed up with this quote from SuperOffice:
“Customers no longer base their loyalty on price or product. Instead, they stay loyal with companies due to the experience they receive.”
Since your customers are giving you their money, it’s not unreasonable for them to expect the very best experience. These six tips are pretty broad, but they can easily be tailored for your business model, industry, and size.
1. SOLVE THEIR PROBLEMS
Obviously, no one expects you to go out and try to solve everyone’s problems! Remember, though, that you started your business for a reason. What was that reason?
The most successful young entrepreneurs are those who fill a gap or see a need in their community. Ask yourself who needs online translation services and why. Are you looking to help a local business connect with partners around the world (B2B)? Or individuals who need help navigating government websites? Maybe you’ve already helped someone, so you know there’s a market out there. How will you find that market? More importantly, how will you let them know that you are here to help?
Go beyond merely saying, “I can do online translation for you. Here’s my fee.” Really show potential customers what you do and why they should hire you. Specific examples of work you’ve done or positive customer reviews are great. Don’t have those yet? No problem: use hypotheticals. Customers want to know they are getting personalized service. Show them how you can do that.
2. LISTEN TO THEM
Sure, there are some Negative Nellys out there who complain about anything and everything. But they are the exception. Most customers will tell you when something goes really wrong. As the boss, you absolutely need to listen. This goes triple if you have multiple customers sharing the same grievance about your product or service. In that case, you have an issue in your business that needs to be addressed.
Take the time to address your customers directly. Repeat what they’ve said so they feel heard. Give them a concrete solution to their problem. For example, if there was a glitch in your payment software and they were charged twice, don’t hesitate to offer a refund (and maybe a discount code on their next purchase).
Even if patience isn’t your best quality, make every effort to let your customers know that you’re listening, and you care.
3. GIVE THEM WAYS TO CONTACT YOU
Knowing your customer means knowing what methods of communication they are most comfortable with. Older generations, especially Boomers, like talking to live people on the phone. The younger you go, the more advanced the technology gets.
Think about this when you set up your website and contact info. Should your customers text you on a specially set up business-only number? Or are they more into email?
To really be successful, and if this is possible for you, set up several ways to contact you: email, phone, online form. Otherwise, your customers will take to public forums and social media to share their concerns.
4. SHARE YOUR VALUES
Making your business socially responsible isn’t only for social entrepreneurs. Customers love knowing they are doing something that will help make positive changes in their community. For your online translation company, maybe you let customers know that 10% of your profits are donated to a refugee aid organization. Customers may even be willing to pay a little bit more for your product or service if they know a portion will be donated to a good cause.
Be upfront about your core values as a human being and why you choose to give some of your business’s profit to this particular cause. Let everyone know they aren’t just supporting a young entrepreneur and small business owner, but they’re helping save the world!
5. BE EFFICIENT
Don’t set up a business email account and then never check it. Time is money, and if you don’t meet your customer’s needs when they want you, they’ll happily spend their money elsewhere.
Since you are already a student, you know the importance of time management and meeting due dates. Your business is no different. Without destroying your mental or physical health, stay on top of your orders, shipments, schedules, and deadlines. If you find yourself falling behind, hire help.
6. GO THE EXTRA MILE
A handwritten thank-you note in their product package. A card with a code for 20% off their next purchase. A special bonus item for repeat customers. Those of you who have ever ordered from Etsy have probably seen this technique in action.
These are all happy surprises that show your customers you’ll go the extra mile for them. Customers who feel appreciated are more likely to develop loyalty to your brand and recommend you to friends. Show them they are more than just another line item in your sales chart by doing something a little bit more.
Your “extra mile” might even be as simple as responding to good reviews with a “thank you” for everyone to see.
Happy customers make for good business. Show them that there’s a human being behind the website. A human who listens and respects them as individuals, not just wallets.
Click here to learn how the Kantner Foundation helps young entrepreneurs by offering college scholarships to Florida high school students.