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It’s not an exaggeration to say “the customer is king.” Customers are the ones who will pay your bills as they hand over their hard-earned cash in exchange for your product or service.

So getting…and keeping…customers is important. But why do so many customers never return to a company or never buy a product more than once?

The answer is they don’t care about your brand. And they don’t care about your brand because you haven’t given them anything to care about. Most customers don’t feel like they belong.

But they desperately want to. Your job is to get them to want to belong. And you can do that with the following seven ways.

1. Know your customer inside out

This is where it all starts.

Just because you think you have the perfect product doesn’t mean people are going to love it. If you assume anything, you may waste a lot of money and time.

Unfortunately too many companies feel like marketing research is expensive and time consuming, so they skip it.

Here’s the deal: It’s not expensive or time consuming. And it’s a must. The following tools and tips can help you collect information about your customer cheaply and easily.

  • Neil Patel

    Host a DIY customer panel – Unlike a typical focus groups where you leave the group alone in a room by themselves, a customer panel puts you in the same room with the group to collect customers intelligence.

  • Run a viral public opinion poll – You can run traditional surveys using tools like KISSinsights (my company) or Survey Monkey, but when you use a tool like Urtak you supercharge your results, getting 100X the interaction.
  • Test your product against the 5-second rule – With a simple wire frame or mock up of your website you could get users to test it over at Free.
  • Create the Minimum Viable Product – A simple sketch or screencast is all you need to float an early product to customers…gather information…tweak…and repeat.

2. Always ship

When it comes to turning one-time customers into returning customers, you have to deliver exceptional service. Not just once or twice…but all the time.

And if you have problems that crop up delivering their product, tell them right away. Tell them what you are doing to fix the problem. And after you deliver, follow up again. Do this repeatedly to make sure that everything is okay. You can turn a disaster experience into a wonderful one by the way you respond to crisis.

Richard Branson turned an ugly publicity stunt into a better outcome when a passenger sent him a 6-page letter complaining about the food on his flight. Branson offered the guy who complained a job as an official food taster for their flights.

And don’t forget that the customer service experience should be exceptional at every touch point…whether you are sending an invoice or simply trading emails.

3. Train your staff

Another way to create customers who love you is to embed your culture of exceptional customer experience into your staff…and you can do that by providing scripts and training sessions.

Each touch with a customer should be within the boundaries you set for it so that you maintain that trust with customers, protect your reputation and improve the efficiency of communication with your customers.

You don’t have to necessarily micro-manage the process by having a script for every single encounter. You could take the Zappos way and simply give them five guidelines:

  • Respond quickly – Based on the size of your company and your resources, decide on what “quick” is…and then make sure employees are responding within that time frame.
  • Never argue about returns – If you have a 100 percent return policy, never argue with a customer when they decide to take you up on that offer. It will encourage repeat sales.
  • Upgrade loyal customers – For those customers you’ve identified as repeat and loyal, give them some privileges. In Zappos case they would upgrade a loyal customer to one or two day shipping.
  • Solve problems – Anticipate problems and then be the solution. How simple is that?
  • Treat customers like people – Train your staff to view every customer as a person…with a unique story, personality and challenge.

Taking the time to train your staff to care deeply for your customers will turn them into fans who absolutely love you!

4. Stay in touch

If you want customers to love you, then you have to reach out and touch them. This includes an off-line touch, too — an act that we online marketers often ignore.

That can mean the difference between a one-off sale and a long-term relationship. For example, one of the things I offer in my QuickSprout Traffic System is a 30 minute phone call.

That’s a clincher for a lot of people.

After that, an opt-in email newsletter is a must. This touch can be once a week or once a month, depending on the size of the newsletter. To optimize your email newsletter list, avoid these mistakes and implement these 4 marketing automation techniques.

If your touches are full of relevant and useful content, it’s inevitable that you will build real relationships with your customers that lead to long-term loyalty.

5. Take care of the loyal

While it’s super important to drive more and more customers through your door…you can never forget about your current customers.

You need to treat these current and loyal customers with respect and give them adequate attention. For example, if you run a special that gives new customers a discount on your product and service — how are you going to handle those loyal customers who see the special?

One thing you can do is offer exclusive loyalty programs. A Manhattan clothing retailer created a loyalty program that allowed customers to earn points by submitting receipts they could redeem from 7,000 different reward options.

A regional bank grew number of new loan contracts by 25-30 percent, expanded into new geographical markets and averaged 2,000 more loans a month by using a points-based incentive program directed to current customers.

As you can see, sometimes you can generate the most growth from simply paying attention to your current customers through exclusive incentives.

6. Personalize the loyalty program

If you want the best loyalty program, however, you have to create…and execute it…so that it is customized and systematized. Then you need to stay on top of it.

One of the best examples of this is the Caesars Entertainment. On a huge scale they’ve mastered the science of customer loyalty with their Total Rewards program.

For example, Caesars knows:

  • How much their top customers are likely to spend at any one of their casinos. And they know this down to the penny. These points can then be redeemed for rooms, meals or shows.
  • They also know what activities…dining, seeing a show or gambling…customers prefer when it comes to staying at one of their hotels.

And since Caesars knows this information, they can send their loyal customers specialized offers that will appeal specifically to them. In fact, Caesar’s CEO Gary Loveman said the company would not be the company it is today without the program.

7. Be grateful

Customers love companies with employees who not only say “thank you” but who are enthusiastic about saying it! The cool thing is you can create a really great vibe at your company — among the employees and the customers — simply by making it a policy that everyone say “thank you” to customers.

You can extend this beyond a simple phone call or email by going out of your way to say “thanks.” The director of Search at Sparkplug Ditigal, Charles Sipe, showed what kind of impact being grateful and helpful can have on a customer (in this case a potential customer) when he went out of his way to deliver a 12-pack of Diet Coke to one of the top SEO bloggers.

You don’t have to do something that crazy for every customer to get them to love you. You just have to be grateful for them — and tell them.


All customers want is a feeling that they belong. That means for you as a business you don’t have to focus on too much. Your job is easy. Just give them that great product and that great customer service that shows them you care about them.

Of course this takes leadership because everyone strays from a focus on customers. So, your job is to keep everyone on track, focusing on the key ways to keep customers coming back for more and more.

What other ways can customers create customers who love them?

Neil Patel is the co-founder of KISSmetrics, an analytics provider that helps companies make better business decisions.

More from Neil Patel on GeekWireSeven signs that you might just be an entrepreneur Eleven things every entrepreneur should know about innovation… 17 things I wish I’d known when starting my first business

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