Having a great website and understanding SEO is a wonderful way to grow your business and gain new customers. However, what do you do once they are at your door? For many front facing business to customer (B2C) companies, it can be difficult to get into the right groove and maintain customers while trying to grow.
It is vitally important to build and maintain customer loyalty. It is impossible to grow your brand if there is a high turnover rate with customer loyalty. You can’t fill a bucket that with a big hole at the bottom!
Here are a few of the basics to get you started on the path to brand loyalty through customer service:
Know Your Target Market
This is business 101 and may seem like a no brainer. However, you may be surprised at how often this becomes a one-time topic. If you currently own a business or are part of a management team, when was the last you really analyzed who your customer is? Has it stayed the same for the last X number of years? This can turn into a slippery slope…
Re-evaluating your customer base should go hand in hand with strategic planning. Although most strategic plans look at the longer term (3-5 years), it is best to meet annually to evaluate and modify goals/strategies as needed. For a newer company, it may be best to meet bi-annually or quarterly for the first couple years. With every meeting set aside some time, no matter how brief, to think about the company’s target audience. Are demographics changing?
With tools like social media, analytics, etc., it is easier than ever to monitor your customer base and adjust as needed. This does not mean an overhaul of your business plan or strategy, but building an awareness to help better understand and serve customers.
The Golden Rule
That’s right kiddos, I’m taking you back to first grade. The next time you find yourself in a difficult customer interaction just stop and remember that the person on the other side of the situation is a human being. Within this rule there are a lot of sub categories that can play into it, but for now we will stick to the basic definition.
You have undoubtedly been the customer in that situation before. How would you like to have that situation treated? Would you like your service and product to be a certain quality? Would you want to have a pleasant interaction? If you needed extra help, would you hope that someone would be glad to do so?
Once last note about the golden rule that gets lost in the shuffle: PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY. Whether you are in front of a customer or client, a distributor, or in a meeting, just put it away. Do it. Those few minutes will not hurt you, and it will reflect a level of respect that seems to have been lost in our world thanks to mobile devices.
Ask for Feedback and LISTEN
Remember that you chose the position/job that you’re in, so why on earth would you not want to be the best at what you do? The only way to be the best is to have the best information to make decisions. How do you get this sacred information about your customers? Just ask! In today’s world of no-holds-barred customer feedback it can be hard to discern what is real.
There are countless ways to gather this information; surveys, customer phone calls or emails, social media messages, business review sites like Yelp or Angie’s List, and so much more. None of these are a one size fits all resource. However, there are a few ways to give customers more access to you. Starting a Google Plus business page can help your SEO as well as a source for customers to leave reviews. Adding social media pages like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn also provide a platform to interact directly with your customers.
Most importantly (in my opinion) is to provide great customer support and remain accessible to customers. Customers will see you as open and honest, and you will be able to obtain more quality information to make strategic decisions. Here is a great blog from Help Scout that give a more detail about listening to your customers through support.
Bonus: Stay Human and Be Genuine
Customers want to talk to a real person and have a real conversation. We too often get lost in the shuffle of numbers and strategy that we forget to just stop and enjoy the moment. Hopefully you are in a business or industry that you enjoy or at least have interest in. Try to spark that interest or passion again and share that with your customers. So again, turn off your phone. Walk away from the computer. Go out and meet your customers face to face. You will learn so much more that way.
I hope you enjoyed this introduction! Stay tuned in the coming weeks for round 2 of building customer loyalty!