Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
People love to talk about great experiences. After all, when you really enjoy something, it’s human nature to want to tell others all about it! As a business owner, your aim should always be to give your customers such a great experience that they become walking, talking billboards for the service you provide. You need to do everything in your power to turn your clients into enthusiastic advocates who will send you referral after referral, helping you to build a solid business as well as a fortune.
Here’s how you can start creating lifelong relationships with your customers today so that they will become passionate champions for your business tomorrow.
1. Stay top of mind
If you want your clients to automatically associate you with a great experience and first-class service, you need to consistently stay in contact, provide exemplary care and create a strong sense of community. A really effective way to do this is to provide items of value that they might find beneficial, such as informative market updates, educational e-reports or simply helpful tips for living the good life. When you’re consistent with the high-quality service and value you provide, you’ll stay top of mind, be considered an expert in your field and become your clients’ trusted adviser.
Related: 7 Tactics That Show You’re Getting Customer Service Right
2. Surprise and delight
Even in this technologically advanced world, there’s a human element to business that can never be underestimated. People crave true connection now more than ever, and, in our hectic and often impersonal society, a powerful way to really connect with someone is to surprise and delight him or her. A personal note is an enjoyable and effective way of reaching out and brightening someone’s day — after all, who doesn’t love getting a piece of personalized post in the mail instead of a bill? You could follow up a handwritten note by making a call to say hi or dropping by to deliver a small gift. All of these gestures are designed to show your top clients that you’re thinking of them, but they should never feel burdensome or fake. Keep it simple; keep it quick. And make sure you’re absolutely authentic in each communication.
3. Celebrate your clients
Your database isn’t just a list of names, phone numbers and addresses: It’s a treasure chest of relationships that need to be nurtured. A fun way to make your clients feel valued and part of a larger community is to bring them together to celebrate at a party. It doesn’t have to be a complicated or expensive affair; just getting your top customers together to say thank you and enjoy each other’s company will go a long way towards strengthening the bonds and deepening the relationship between you. Even if you can’t meet in person, there are a lot of fun ways you can connect online and create a community of like-minded people.
Related: 7 Essentials of Great Customer Service
4. Ask for referrals
If you serve your clients at the highest levels, they’ll eagerly tell others in their circle. Word will spread, the referrals will pour in, and you’ll become known as the go-to person to do business with! However, it’s also important to remember that you shouldn’t be afraid to remind your clients that you’re never too busy for their referrals. When you go above and beyond to exceed customers’ expectations, you earn the right to ask that they consider recommending you to others. Working by referral this way means that not only will you always have a steady stream of high-quality leads and a business that lasts, but you’ll also get to work with quality clients you like. It’s a win-win!
The more you consistently demonstrate the high level of care you provide, the more your clients will associate your name with exceptional service. When you prove that you’re reliable, trustworthy and excellent at what you do, your customers become megaphones for you in the marketplace, eager to tell other people about the positive experiences they’ve had with you. As a result, they’ll enthusiastically and happily refer you, which means that the reach of your brand will increase, your business will grow, and you’ll be on your way to living the good life.
Related: Treat Them Well: 5 Keys to Lasting Customer Service