AMY PORTERFIELD: “When you want to serve your customers at the highest level, and if my very first tip I gave you was to listen to your customers and meet them where they're at, some might question me and say, ‘Yeah, but you didn't do that, Amy. You didn't listen to your customers and meet them where they're at with the Insider's Club by closing it.’ And the truth is, yes, I did. So even though there were a handful of people that were very frustrated with my decision, there were more people asking me for a more–elevated experience with me, asking for more of my support or more of Team Porterfield’s support in very specific, intentional ways.”
“So just because you may have to make hard decisions in your business that you can't please everybody, that doesn't mean that you're not doing a good job at customer experience. And I wanted to make that clear, not just to defend myself—I don't think I need to—but to actually give anybody permission listening that you might just need that little extra nudge to say that sometimes you're going to make hard decisions in your business that won't please everybody, including customers, paying customers. But if you stay intentional with knowing what is right and you genuinely do listen to what your customers ultimately want and need, and if you take the time to slow down, which I did, to really make sure that what you were doing was going to actually elevate the majority of your customer and potential customers’ experiences and help them get the transformation that you have been promising, then sometimes you've got to make decisions that aren't going to please everybody. And I think at the end of the day, where you're able to sit with that and sit in integrity is if you've done a really good job of always putting your customers first.”
INTRO: I’m Amy Porterfield, ex-corporate girl turned CEO of a multi-million-dollar business. But it wasn't all that long ago that I lacked the confidence, money, and time to focus on growing my small–but–mighty business. Fast forward past many failed attempts and lessons learned, and you'll see the business I have today, one that changes lives and gives me more freedom than I ever thought possible, one that used to only exist as a daydream. I created the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast to give you simple, actionable, step–by–step strategies to help you do the same. If you're an ambitious entrepreneur, or one in the making, who's looking to create a business that makes an impact and helps you create a life you love, you're in the right place. Let's get started.
AMY: Eleven years in business, thousands of customers served, the majority of them extremely happy and a few not so happy, and I think it's safe to say that I've learned a thing or two about how to make a customer's experience top notch and unforgettable. Would you like my secrets? Well, my entrepreneurial friend, you're in luck. In today's episode, I'm giving you all my best tips and strategies for empowering your customers, making them feel heard and feel genuinely important, and providing them with a customer journey like they've never experienced before. You're going to love this episode because I'm actually pulling in a very special team member, my director of customer experience. His name is Josh, but we like to call him Joshy Poshy or Joshy Pie. So anyway, we put our heads together and came up with the three most effective and powerful ways that you can create a next–level experience, based on how we actually have perfected and ran our own customer support inside this business.
Now, these strategies are great for potential customers—so the people who reach out to you inquiring about your products and offers—as well as your return customers. In fact, did you know that on average, loyal customers are worth up to ten times as much as their first-time purchase? Honestly, I've seen it in my own business. Those customers who have already purchased from me are sacred and essential for sustained growth.
These approaches can be used whether you have three customers or 3,000 customers. That's the beautiful thing about customer service. You can stand out and make an impression no matter what stage you're at in growing your business. Plus, you can use these approaches whether you have an online business with a digital course or product or if you work one on one or in person with your customers.
And maybe you're saying, “Amy, I'm just starting a business. I don't have customers yet.” Well, my friend, you're actually in the best position of all. You see, you get to set your customer–support standards before you start sharing your product with the world, which means you get to use these tips to love up on your customers, starting with your very first one.
And a huge shout out again to Josh Palmer for some of these brilliant tips.
All right. Let's go ahead and dive into today's episode.
All right, so before we talk about the three ways to wow your audience with next–level customer service, I want to make sure that we're on the same page in regard to what the wow factor means. Now, this will mean something different to everyone. and so you have to decide what it means to you and your company. But to give you a little behind the scenes of what it means for my company, here it is. That wow factor means doing all the right behaviors with all the right intentions to achieve the right results. If you're multitasking, come back to me. Let me say it again. Doing all the right behaviors with all the right intentions to achieve the right results.
It starts with the right behaviors, and you must decide how you're going to react and respond, which drives intention. When you decide on the right behaviors, you automatically become intentional about how you're interacting with your customers. All of this creates the results you're seeking and in turn creates the wow factor and an out–of–this–world experience for your customers. Wowing your customers means going above and beyond with a purpose and a reason.
Okay. Let's dive into the three ways to create a unique and top–notch experience for your potential customers and repeat customers. Number one, listen diligently to your customers and meet them where they are. We all love to talk. Let's just be honest. But when it comes to your customers, we must listen in order to understand their needs, their pain points, and how you can serve them better. Whether it's through email or a phone call, holding space for your customers to speak up and process whatever emotions they're feeling, it's all vital. And if you're thinking, “But Amy, I listen to my customers, and they aren't telling me,” then, my friend, you're not truly listening enough. Many times you'll find you have to listen for underlying emotions. And that's what will set you apart. When you listen, and I mean truly listen, you'll start to hear the pain points of your customers. And when you know their pain points, guess what. You can solve their problems.
There's a great story about Trader Joe's. Raise your virtual hand if you're a Trader Joe's fan. I could literally spend hours there. But there's a story about them going above and beyond to serve their customers. A woman was concerned that her elderly father would run out of food after a snowstorm had hit his area and left him trapped in his house. So since she didn't live nearby, she called multiple grocery stores in his area to see if anyone would deliver to him. After many had said no, she finally called Trader Joe's, who, although they normally don't deliver, said they would happily get him groceries. Oh, and they said the groceries and delivery were on the house. I just got chills, and I already knew that story. As she was ordering, they suggested groceries that might accommodate her father's dietary restrictions. And get this: the groceries were at his house thirty minutes later. How special is that? They listened, and they heard her struggle, what she was dealing with, and they knew that they could offer her a solution. They didn't have to, it wasn't in their protocol, but they chose to.
Another business that goes above and beyond in terms of how to serve their customers, it's one that's near and dear to my heart, Blackberry Farm in Tennessee. So you've heard me talk about this special place. It's the place that Hobie and I go. We at least try to go every year. And get this: their motto is “Yes is the answer. What's the question?” Crazy, right? Talk about a company that is putting their customers’ needs first and making sure they are serving them above all else.
Do you notice the common denominator in these examples? They focus on how they can put the customer before the company.
So let me turn this question around on you. How can you do that in your company? How can you serve your customers without them asking or expecting it?
Another beautiful way to wow your customers is to intentionally meet them where they're at. Josh gave a great example of how he uses this. And again, this ties back to listening. He explains that when someone calls or emails us, he reads into the emotion behind their voice or their text and listens to what they're actually going through. He then empathizes with them at whatever emotional or energetic level that they're at. Now, I'm not saying be low energy if you have a client feeling that way, but connect with them at a level that feels real. Give them the encouragement that they need at the level they need. And you can do this by listening to what they're saying and their energy behind how they are saying it.
Something that everyone remembers on my team is this: our business is not a transactional organization. It's a transformative organization. Write that down and remember it at every stage of your business. Pretty powerful, right?
So number one, listen to your customers, and meet them where they're at.
Number two, be transparent. What I mean here is be honest about who your ideal community is and who they are not. Support them in making a decision to look for a program or product more suited for their needs. And I get it. It's hard to turn customers away, especially when you're starting out or trying to grow your business. By helping a customer see that they aren't a good fit for what you have to offer will cause less headaches down the road when they discover that your program isn't what they need.
For example, I highly recommend that anyone who rolls in my Digital Course Academy program has at least 250 people on their email list. I'm very transparent about this when I'm launching. Sometimes I have people say that they still want to enroll, which is fine. But again, I'm very clear that if they don't have at least an email list of around 250 people, they're going to have to put in a little extra effort in order to grow that email list before they launch.
Now, I want you to take some time to identify who your digital course or product or business is not for. Yeah, not for. Now, just because someone isn't meant for what you have to offer right now, that doesn't mean that they won't need it down the road. But if you're transparent with them and help them to see why they might not be a good fit right now, they'll be more likely to come back to purchase down the road when the timing is right, and they'll most certainly refer you to others who would be a better fit.
So, number two, be transparent.
And lastly, number three, slow down and celebrate your students. You're busy; I understand. However, when you slow down to celebrate your customers, you'll be amazed at how quickly you create lifelong, loyal customers, and that is worth every second. Whether your freebie helped someone or your product transformed someone's life, take the time to send them a congrats. Maybe send them a card, an email, a voice message on Instagram, or a Facebook message, or a BombBomb video. I do this a lot with Instagram voice text. When someone posts that they had a win on Instagram with one of my programs or freebies, or a Facebook Live gave them an aha moment, I jump on those opportunities, and whenever I can, I send a voice text saying, “Hey, I see you. I'm so excited that you got those results, and I'm cheering you on.” And I think that goes a long way.
Also, another thing you can do is when you see one of their successes posted on social, you repost it, and you give them a shout out, or maybe you give them a shout out in your podcast, which we do a lot here. So taking the time to do this transforms how your company interacts with potential and existing customers.
When I was just starting out and my email list was a lot smaller, any time somebody wrote in and they thanked me for some kind of success, big or small, that they've gotten, I always personally respond right back with an email. I didn't do video or voice text. I mean, voice text wasn't even around. So I just responded quickly with an email, letting them know I’m excited for them, I appreciate their feedback, and I'm cheering them on. So when your email list is small, there are benefits of that. You can reach out to everybody, and you are creating customers for life.
Nowadays I have a team. They keep me informed on customer and student wins. And we have a Slack channel called Wins, and whenever somebody emails into customer support or posts something on social, we as a team, when we see any of that, post it in the Slack channel Wins so the whole team gets to celebrate, and we get to see that people are actually making these transformations we're working so hard to help them do. So that makes a big difference for the morale of the team as well. But one thing I really do love is when I get the opportunity to comment on somebody’s post or reply to an email or do a voice text.
Okay. So, number three, slow down and celebrate your customers.
Now, before I give you a really good, hot tip that you can apply to your business right away, I wanted to jump in here and address something that recently came up in my business. And I do plan to make a separate podcast episode about what I've learned and just reflect on the experience. But because we're talking about customer experience here, I wanted to address it just briefly.
So recently, I made a decision to close down one of my Facebook communities called Insider’s, which was a free community for my students, specifically or mainly the alumni of my programs Courses That Convert, Webinars That Convert, and Digital Course Academy. The decision was really, really, really hard to make. I thought about it for months and months and months. But when I looked at where the business is going and how we want to serve in a bigger way, and when I looked at the lack of engagement in the group and the fact that it had been declining over the last year significantly, and when I looked at how I can serve my students in a bigger way and help them get to the finish line of creating their course and launching their course over and over again, I knew that I was doing a disservice to my students and to the business that I was restructuring if I kept that group open. And we did a survey to find out what people wanted most, and we knew that we could serve our audience in different ways, whether it be free or paid, beyond this group that I had decided to close.
And when we did, there was a handful of my alumni that were really, really frustrated with me for closing the group. And out of 15,000 people, maybe 100, a little bit more, were really vocal in the group about how dissatisfied they were with my decision. Some of them leaving very, very mean remarks about me or the fact that I’m just money grabbing or things like that. There were few and far between of those comments, but let's be honest, maybe three, but they stung the most because they were just so incredibly hurtful.
However, I bring this up here because when you want to serve your customers at the highest level, and if my very first tip I gave you was to listen to your customers and meet them where they're at, some might question me and say, “Yeah, but you didn't do that, Amy. You didn't listen to your customers and meet them where they're at with the Insider's Club by closing it.” And the truth is, yes, I did. So even though there were a handful of people that were very frustrated with my decision, there were more people asking me for a more–elevated experience with me, asking for more of my support or more of Team Porterfield’s support in very specific, intentional ways.
So just because you may have to make hard decisions in your business that you can't please everybody, that doesn't mean that you're not doing a good job at customer experience. And I wanted to make that clear, not just to defend myself—I don't think I need to—but to actually give anybody permission listening that you might just need that little extra nudge to say that sometimes you're going to make hard decisions in your business that won't please everybody, including customers, paying customers. But if you stay intentional with knowing what is right and you genuinely do listen to what your customers ultimately want and need, and if you take the time to slow down, which I did, to really make sure that what you were doing was going to actually elevate the majority of your customer and potential customers’ experiences and help them get the transformation that you have been promising, then sometimes you've got to make decisions that aren't going to please everybody. And I think at the end of the day, where you're able to sit with that and sit in integrity is if you've done a really good job of always putting your customers first; always thinking about them in terms of the decisions you're making, what's best for them, how can you support them.
But at the same time, what's hard about being an entrepreneur is that you also have to think about what's best for your business so that you can be in this for the long haul. And if you're doing something in your business that is making you feel burn out, overwhelmed, stressed, not bringing you joy, you do need to reevaluate because your students need you for the long haul. They need you at your very, very best, doing what you've promised them you will do.
So I just wanted to bring that up because it was something that came up recently in my business, and it's been difficult to navigate. But I also believe I made the very right decision, and so that's what I stand in, and I know that I'm in it for my students and my audience. I know where my heart is and where my support goes. So I wanted to bring this up because, of course, step number one, listen to your customers, and number two, be transparent. And this is me being transparent.
Okay. Let's get to that hot tip.
If you're at a point in your business that you have a virtual assistant or you're thinking about bringing one on very soon, then don't be afraid to use them to help with supporting your potential customers and your current customers. If you do this, of course, you want to make sure that they are very clear on your company core values, what your brand is known for, who your ideal community is, what you stand for, who you are, who you are not, and just communicate those things to your virtual assistant often.
And also, one thing that helped me immensely when I started to bring on a small team, starting with a virtual assistant—my virtual assistant, Rebecca, was literally my first customer–support rep, but now it's evolved into two people in my business that help with customer support, Josh and Megan—and when you do bring people on, you have to show them how you want them to communicate.
One thing I didn't bring up in this episode because I don't want to go down a rabbit hole, but I will tell you, we have a Google Doc full of what I call guided responses. I mean, it has hundreds of guided responses. Notice I didn't say canned, but guided responses, meaning frequently asked questions, general ones, and then specific to each of my programs. And we put the question and then we answer it. Sometimes I answer it, sometimes Josh does, sometimes I review what Josh did and give him insight. But we have these guided responses, and they’re called guided so that when anybody wants to reply to a student using them, they can finesse them and make them more personal and customize them, but at least they have the core of how we would answer that question. I recommend everybody starts a Google Doc of guided responses right now, and break it up into different categories so it's easily searchable.
So with that, I make sure that anybody new coming on to my team knows how I would answer some frequently asked questions, and from that, they'll see how I like to talk to my customers. I like to be really casual and personable with every single response, whether it's coming from me, Josh, or Megan. So you've got to show your team, who's ever in customer support, how you would respond to questions, how you like to talk to your customers, so that they can see exactly how it's done, because ultimately, at the end of the day, they are representing you. Yes, they're representing your team, but if you are a personal brand like me, my name's on everything. Every email Josh sends, it's a reflection of me. And that's why, one, I'm very careful who I hire for customer support and customer experience. Two, I take the time to train them. So, something to think about as you start to grow your team.
Listen, customer support may seem like something that you can put your energy and attention into when an issue arises, but I want you to take the time and energy now to make it a priority, especially if you're in between launches. This is a great time to love up on your customers and potential customers and create that wow factor. So set aside some time and put in the effort to connect and serve your audience on a deeper level. And I promise you, it'll pay off tenfold.
Thanks again for joining me this week, and a huge thank you to Josh Palmer, or Joshy Poshy, for giving us so many brilliant tips and a behind–the–scenes look at our own customer experience at Team Porterfield.
So I'll see you next week, same time, same place. Bye for now.