happy customer

A successful business is built by its customers. That’s your big marketing secret/take-away for today!

Customers buy and use your awesome stuff. Loyal customers buy and use your awesome stuff more.

But an often-neglected aspect of marketing, for many businesses, is the customer component.

Sure we “think” we are paying attention to them by targeting them. But it’s not enough to simply target a specific customer type and then assume you’ve done your job.

So let’s look at my triple A method of not only targeting your best customers, but also creating loyal, happy evangelists who go out and talk about your business.

1. Alignment

It’s not enough to target, we must also align. Alignment means more than demographic or geographic targeting. It means understanding who your customer is, what they like and don’t like, what they value, and then aligning your branding and marketing strategies with those things.

It’s far easier to sell dog food to dog lovers, if you are posting pictures of your cat on your dog food website… well, you’re out of alignment. Seems obvious, right? But you would be surprised to find that alignment failure occurs regularly.

Let’s look at the automotive service industry for instance. While no one really likes walking into a dirty, unkempt shop, if your primary customer is a male lawyer with a luxury vehicle, you are going to have a hard time selling to him if he is uncomfortable sitting down to wait for his oil change. No you don’t need leather sofas and an espresso machine, but you do need a clean, clutter free shop, with techs who are clean, with shaved faces, clean uniforms, and haircuts.

If you run a hot rod shop, then again, align. Have a hot rod out front, have some appropriate hot rod photos and memorabilia. Don’t have a poster of the latest Ferrari on the wall.

Alignment means taking the time to understand your customer. When you fix hot rods, it helps if you like hot rods, even better if you drive one too.

2. Ask, then Listen

The best listeners hear what the others miss. How? By listening for as long as it takes. In fact, I learned this little nugget years and years ago. I was reading Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, and I hit Chapter 6. I highlighted this bit:

“Talk to people about themselves,” said Disraeli, one of the shrewdest men who ever ruled the British Empire, “and they will listen for hours.”

After all these years, that bit stuck with me. It works wonderfully, like magic. Over the years I have remained loyal to Carnegie’s rule:

Principle 4 – Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.

When you let others talk, you learn so much more about them. They will tell you everything you need to know to solve their problem because you’ll clearly understand the problem. Here’s a little hint: the problem isn’t always the obviously stated one. Many times when someone says something like, “I can’t afford it”, they may actually be saying many other things like “I want it but not at that price,” “I want it but maybe next pay check”, or even “I’m not sure I understand the value”.

When you listen for as long as it takes, the customer will explain themselves, just give them the opportunity to do so, and not jump to conclusions.

3. Advocate

Be your customer’s champion.

What exactly does that mean?

Simply stated, be on their side from the start. Loyalty goes both way. If you want your customers to be loyal to you be loyal to them. Do whatever it takes to make their lives easier and to make working with you stress-free.

Last year, I had a customer who was unable to get an appointment. She was an extremely loyal customer but she had an emergency. She got an appointment with another service provider. Her car window had failed and slipped down into the door. Rain was in the forecast and she didn’t want to get her leather interior wet.

Well six months later she made her appointment for general service. We noticed that the window was not working properly. We suggested she repair it before it failed. She explained that she’d just had it fixed, she was not happy, but she said to fix it she didn’t want another situation where her car wasn’t secure.

When we pulled the door apart we discovered that the previous service provider had used aftermarket parts… parts that we knew failed regularly. We installed a factory replacement part with a 2-year warranty.

I, too, was unhappy. My customer needed immediate help because I wasn’t available; as a result she received overpriced work with cheap parts. I stepped into advocate mode.

I boxed the substandard part. I told her to get her invoice from the previous service provider, to take the part back to them. I told her to explain what had happened, then I told her to ask for a brand new factory part. The repair was already done, she’d already paid twice, but at least she could get the bad part warrantied.

I promised to buy the factory part from her so she could recoup some of her costs. Even if the part sat on the shelf, I was determined to make sure she was happy.

The service provider agreed. But, they gave her another aftermarket part. I had given her all of the details and what to look for to confirm it was a factory part. She returned, armed with all the information. They took the part back and refunded her money.

She was ecstatic. She knew what to say, what to look for, how to make sure they didn’t take advantage of her again, and she ended up with a full refund from the other service provider. I became her champion.

She remained a loyal customer.

Your Customers Are Your Business

Happy customers become evangelists for your business. They talk about you and, more importantly, they refer you to others.

You can increase your customers’ loyalty by practicing alignment, ask then listen, and by being your customer’s best advocate.

Simple strategies that when used regularly will not only make your customers happy, but will make you happy too.

You can imagine that when I received the call from my customer that she’d managed to get her money back, I pretty much did the happy dance! I love when my customers are happy and when I can share in their success. You will too!


Long-time business owner and entrepreneur, Yolanda brings a unique perspective to building and growing small businesses. Talk with me for 30-minutes, Free, no strings attached! Click here!
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