Whether you’re selling products or services, you want your customers to love you, right? After all, happy customers are more likely to become repeat customers than unhappy ones.

On top of that, when your customers love you they might just spread the word, driving referral purchases or at least new visitors that you can convert into more buyers. At the very least, you don’t want them telling people how unhappy they are — something that’s quick and easy to do in the social media age.

The question though is how do you get your customers or clients to love you enough to keep coming back and referring others your way? It’s easier than you might think.

5 Ways to Keep Customers or Clients Happy

Here are five steps to making your customers love you and your brand, regardless of what kind of business you’re in:

Give people a reason to buy.

Make people feel like they need what you’re offering before they buy, and you can cut down on potential buyer’s remorse.

It doesn’t matter if they love you at the time of purchase if they regret it soon after. Then you look like the manipulative “bad guy.”

You know the old rule — when marketing your products or services forget about your features and focus on the benefits for the buyers. That’s the key. Make your marketing about them, not you, and you show them you understand them and their needs from the start.

Anticipate (and answer) questions and concerns.

Don’t leave potential buyers scratching their heads, trying to figure out whatever it is you’re offering. And don’t make them ask you.

You might look at being provocatively vague as a way to get prospects talking to you, so you can convince them to buy. They’re more likely to see it as a time-waster. Not a good early impression.

Instead, try to anticipate the most common questions and concerns and address them right on your website or in your other marketing materials — an FAQ page or help desk can go a long way. It lets you overcome buyers’ objections immediately, and then convert their visit into a sale.

Meet deadlines.

Deadlines are a bigger deal if you’re a service provider than if you’re selling products, but even with products if you state a shipping deadline, you’d better meet it.

As for services, don’t just try to meet deadlines. If you can deliver early, all the better. No one likes to be kept waiting.

Personally I like to slightly overestimate how long I think services will take. This way I’m frequently finished before deadlines come, and if something happens causing the project to take a bit longer it usually won’t push me over deadline. If you do similar, just don’t estimate so conservatively that you lose a competitive edge.

Exceed expectations.

Don’t just give your customers the bare minimum they expect from your products or services. Give them more.

Figure out what buyers want but what the competition also isn’t offering yet, and work it into your sales. It’s a great way to keep customers pleased. And hey, who doesn’t like showing up the competition once in a while?

For example, ship faster or cheaper than your competitors. Offer a free downloadable guide or white paper to prospects before they buy your services. Toss in bonus samples with your product sales if that’s appropriate (for example, when I buy essential oils from a particular company they periodically include tiny samples of others to entice customers to try them and potentially order them later).

Listen.

Listening to your customers is probably the most important thing you can do to make them love you and keep coming back.

Think of a software developer as an example. Are customers requesting an update because of compatibility problems? Give it to them. Are they asking for new features in your next release? Try to make it happen if at all feasible. Are there problems that they’d like you to address? Listen and be responsive.

Precious little pisses off buyers more than feeling like they’re being ignored when problems do come about. And they generally appreciate knowing their voices are heard when it comes to other suggestions.

Keeping customers happy doesn’t have to be difficult. Really it only involves one thing — you have to actually care about them. Do you?

This post was originally shared on October 27, 2010. It was updated and expanded on its currently-listed publication date. 

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