”I genuinely believe that any business can create a competitive advantage through giving outstanding customer care.” 

– Gary Vaynerchuk

Customers are the heartbeat of your business.

The truth is, no metric is more important to the success of your business than customer lifetime value (CLV). CLV directly determines the very core of the ultimate purpose of a business–which is maximizing value for your ideal customers.

High CLV is a direct result of customer loyalty. Pretty much every successful business can be defined by a loyal customer base. A big part of creating a loyal customer base is to deliver a customer experience that is so good, they’ll fall in love with your brand and your product or service.

Tony Hsieh of Zappos calls it delivering a “WOW experience.” In short, this means going the extra mile, surprising your customers, and making them feel special. Here are some examples.

1. Focus on the First Experience

Think about new customers as a date and existing ones as a marriage. That’s, in fact, a great perspective to think about when it comes to delivering a great customer experience.

The first experience is important. Don’t believe me? Just think about the last time you walked into a hotel. The front desk staff is always your first impression and a big signal as to the quality of your stay. In your business, new customers made a fresh decision to give you an opportunity and spend money with you. Still, there’s some anticipation of whether the decision was right or not – and we all love to be right.

So, give them that feeling. This first experience sets the table for whatever follows. If you can provide outstanding support and impress your customers right from the start, you’re on the way to building a great business.

2. Get Your Response Time Down

There are a bunch of studies showing that customers who get great support are more likely to recommend new customers. One of the key determinants of what customers evaluate as great support is the response time.

A very simple solution to start with is to implement an automated email that acknowledges that you received their message. This is a must. Over the long term, you want to focus on cutting down the response time so that it is as short as possible.

Just look at the best companies. If Amazon, the world’s largest retailer, can respond within 24 hours, you should be able to do that too.

3. Surprise Them

The famous example is Wufoo. In their early days, the company sent out handwritten thank you cards to their first customers. Not only were they impressed, but it generated a lot of PR and buzz on social media. In fact, it’s been years since they did it and look; we’re still writing about it.

customer loyalty

Christie Cookies and Cookie Crowd offer free custom tins and delivery.

Jawbone did the same thing. Help Scout sent a tin of free cookies. In fact, it can be something as simple as a $5 Starbucks voucher, a gift card, or a discount. Just show your customers that you appreciate them.

4. Impress One Customer

The best example here is Zappos. In 2011, the company sent flowers to a woman whose feet were damaged by harsh medical treatments. In 2010, a customer service rep physically went to a rival shoe store to get a specific pair for a customer when Zappos ran out of stock.

That’s the reason Zappos is beloved by its customers and why it grew from an online shop to a billion dollar company so quickly.

By the way, if you really care about customer support, you should absolutely read “Delivering Happiness,” a book by Zappos’ founder Tony Hsieh.

5. Meet Them in Person

If you really want to build an outstanding company, you should be seeing your customers regularly. That way, you will stay in touch with their needs and understand their motivations.

customer loyalty

Airbnb Open, an event Airbnb organized for its users

You’ll also show them you care. An effective way to do this is to organize meetups via meetup.com or some other venue. For a more one-to-one interaction, you can also offer to take them for a coffee or a meal.

If your customers are spread across the country (or world), shoot them a note and a giftcard to grab virtual coffee via Skype or Google Hangout. Even if it doesn’t happen, the effort and sentiment behind your outreach won’t go unnoticed.

6. Refer a Customer

If you’re a B2B businesses, make a reasonable effort to send business to your customers. Not only will you help them grow (and continue to do business with you), but it’s a form of saying thanks too.

There are many ways to make your customers feel appreciated. It all starts with the right mindset. Above are just some ideas, but all it takes is some creativity and making a great customer experience part of your company’s culture.