We're living in the "age of the customer." It's a concept in which consumers are more empowered than ever before. They have access to an internet full of information about almost any of the products and services they desire—whenever they want it. So, it stands to reason that treating them as the most important part of your business is not only a good idea, it's essential to your success.
When you want to attract customers—and keep them—there has to be a method to your mindfulness. That's where customer experience management comes in.
Here are seven ways to create a personal connection with your customers.
1. Listen to Your Customers
Do you really listen to your customers or are you merely speaking at them rather than with them?
From web contact forms and surveys, to monitoring social media posts and reviews, collecting feedback lets you know how people feel about your business. And what you can do to improve it. It also gives you an opportunity to reply to them and address their concerns.
Web Contact Forms - This is a simple but effective way to quickly get an opinion from your customers or website visitors. Every website should include a contact page. Use yours to let people share their opinions. One way to encourage a response is to give the page a name other than "Contact." Get creative and explain exactly what you're looking for. Also, consider pushing people to the page with a promo pop-up or highlighted section on your home page.
Surveys - After a customer makes a purchase, send them a poll via email or text message. Ask them to rate and provide an opinion about your service, etc. Offer an incentive, like a future discount, to encourage a timely response.
Social Media Monitoring - Search a variety of social media channels to see what people are saying about your business. If you have a Facebook account and you've been tagged or mentioned, you can get an alert letting you know. On Twitter, you can keep track of who's talking about you via the @yourusername and search functions. Also, create and promote your own hashtags and keep track of when they're used. Services like HubSpot will put all your interactions in one place, making it even easier to check them and respond.
Reviews - Check out your company reviews on Google, Yelp, etc. depending on the type of business you have. Be sure to engage with anyone who leaves a comment or review, good or bad. This type of attention is a strong signal to consumers that you care about them. Google Alerts is a great way to keep track of what people are saying about your business or brand on web pages, newspaper articles, blogs, etc. You'll receive an email when it finds new results that match your designated search terms. It also keeps track of customer complaints and concerns.
2. Reward Your Customers
If you're looking for quality feedback from your customers, consider offering a reward for their participation.
"If you do this for us, we'll do this for you."
Make it worth their while so you give yourself the best chance to get the results you're looking for.
By encouraging people to provide feedback, you're controlling the conversation, in a sense. As a result, you'll likely earn more positive reviews and referrals.
Consider a Loyalty Program
A loyalty program is a structured marketing strategy that encourages customers to keep shopping at or using the services of a specific business. It's as much about customer service as it is rewards.
According to Salesforce.com, 68% of millennials said they wouldn't stick with a brand unless they had a good loyalty program. Be sure to provide interesting offers and don't make it too hard to earn points for rewards.
3. Meet Your Customers (if You Can)
Have you ever been a "regular" at a store or restaurant? You walk through the front door and, like the theme song from "Cheers," it seems everybody knows your name? Take this same approach with your customers whenever possible.
Personalizing electronic correspondence is a good idea. But, according to a Harvard Business Review study, a face-to-face request is 34x more successful than an email. So consider meeting with your customers or clients at industry related events or trade shows.
If you don't have a physical location where you regularly greet your customers, consider other ways of connecting with them. Webinars and Google Hangouts are the next best things to in-person meetings.
Another option to consider is an automated email or "drip" campaign. Before an event, email all the attendees with an invitation to a special happy hour or dinner. Give them an incentive to meet you through a series of emails. This will not only keep reminding them about the event, it will also intrigue them enough to show up.
4. Respond in a Timely Manner
Nothing frustrates a customer more than having to wait for an answer to their question. With plenty of response options at your disposal—email, text, chat, etc.—there's no excuse not to respond in a timely manner.
A popular feature is real-time support via live chat. And if you can't provide 24/7 customer service, set up an alert. When a customer asks a question via the chat console on your website, you'll receive a notification. An autoresponder will provide help until you can respond directly. This is especially helpful for small businesses who can't have someone monitoring a chat feature all day.
Also, proactive chat allows you to talk to customers before they even ask a question.
Are you concerned about forgetting to follow up with a customer? A productivity tool like Boomerang for Gmail will remind you to do so. It's a great way to remember to contact specific people.
For sales people or customer service agents, software like HubSpot offers the ability to track your history of interactions with specific customers or clients. This keeps you on top of the ongoing process as a customer moves through the sales funnel.
However you choose to deal with customers, do so quickly. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing their business.
5. Use Personalized Mail
A handwritten note is a treasured gem in the digital age. It stands out amidst the electronic clutter that fills our daily lives, and forges a human connection in an increasingly disconnected world. It creates a customer for life.
The problem? It takes a lot of time. And it's expensive.
Simply Written takes care of that dilemma with a scalable solution that eliminates the hassle. Choose your stationery, type your message, select your handwriting style, and we'll do the printing, prepping, and mailing.
When is a handwritten business note appropriate? There are plenty of times it provides the personal connection that's missing with a standard typed letter.
- Thanking a customer for their support
- Sharing a special offer
- Announcing a new service
- Following an important event
- Expressing sympathy
With Simply Written, handwritten correspondence is easier than ever. Start today and create connections that last a lifetime.
6. Be Transparent on Social Media
One of the primary reasons social media is so effective for businesses is it provides an open door into their inner workings. This gives customers a chance to see who the business really is. It humanizes them and makes them seem more real.
Whether it's Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other social media channel, go behind the scenes of your business. Show what happens in your organization's day-to-day activities and feature your real people. Peel back the curtain, so to speak, and let the personality of your brand shine through.
Cisco forecasts that over 80% of all consumer Internet traffic will be via video this year. Fittingly, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram allow you to "go live" in an instant. Nearly half of all businesses are using social video. Why not join them? Create all kinds of videos, but take the opportunity to broadcast a new product launch or special event as it's happening.
Share Exclusive Content
Are you working on a new product? Show it off in its initial stages. It could be anything from an early sketch to an assembled prototype. Do you have an employee who has achieved a milestone in their career? Is your organization active in your community? These are just a few of the many possibilities you can share with your followers.
Also, rather than sharing the same picture on multiple channels, create an exclusive image for each individual channel. This provides a personal touch for each of your social media options.
The more you show the personality of your brand and employees, the more consumers will feel like they know and trust your company. Transparency increases brand loyalty and results in a loyal following.
7. Be Patient
Building a relationship with anyone takes time. A customer is no different. Creating a personal connection with them won't happen overnight. It's through a series of events, highlighted by outstanding customer service, that you attract, convert, close, and delight your valued following.
Always be cautious not to overdue it with your correspondence, though. When you contact potential customers (or current ones) with an onslaught of marketing messages, you run the risk of becoming a burden more than a helpful contact. Don't be that business. Find a balance and strive to serve them as a trusted resource.
In this "age of the customer," it's important to create a personal connection with your audience. Treat them as the most important part of your business. After all, without your customers, you have no business. Listen to what they have to say and respond to them when they talk to you. Keep them happy with rewards and incentives and never underestimate the value of a personal meeting. Show that you care about your customers and they'll value your brand for a long time.
Digital, handwritten business notes provide a personal touch that not only shows that you care, it also makes your business stand out from your competition. Request a free sample today.