As the new year approaches, there's is one important thing you must focus on in between the celebrations and partying. Your strategy to engage your customers and be responsive to their needs. Planning is a very crucial stage when discussing about being customer focused come the new year. However, at times it is just difficult to know where to begin.
In the Beginning.......
....there was a product/service without a customer and you were out in the market actively almost desperately looking for customers. How do you communicate your products and service to your first customer and most importantly, how do you win over your first customer?
With your persistence, patience, determination, product reviews, networking offers and promotions, you finally got your first customer
Then there was.....
....your first customer. You spent or will indeed spend lots of effort to get your first customer more than any of the following customers. But how do you make sure you do not loose your first customer. Because it is very important to meet the current and future needs of your first customer who in-turn will introduce you to the next and the next and the next to you Nth+1 customer.
With lots of research, mistakes, corrections, learning, you can now say you have a substantial list of customers. But with more customers come more operational expenditure. You employ more staff, you re-do your website, you invest in technology, you sign contracts and the list go on.
How then do you maintain the vigor, enthusiasm, patience, customer focus attitude you had before getting your customer. Because if you do not maintain a customer focus culture within your organization, then you will loose all your customers to competition and the cycle goes on and on.
In the end........
......there shall be two paths to be followed by each entrepreneur. The first path leads to growth, success and profitability while the other path leads to customer churn, failure and losses and worst case scenario - a complete close down of a business that you have spent lots of money, time and resources building.
While starting this journey, everybody wants to follow the path of growth, success and profitability. However, that depends on how well you engage your customers. Engaging all your customers is not a choice - it is a MUST for you to survive. you must be responsive and available to your customers.
- Responsive - This is as simple as "When they ask - you must answer conclusively within the shortest time possible". Otherwise your competition will answer questions directed to you.
- Available - This is as simple as being there when they need you in all the contact points that they have with you. Let me explain further. Each business has several contact points which are (the retail shop/office, the Facebook page, the twitter handle, the support email address, the website, the telephone, the SMS number.) Not having a contact point is synonymous to having something to sell but no way of selling it. having contact points without people to man them is synonymous to have a shop without a shopkeeper. Examples below:
- Missed Calls - If you have a telephone line that is not manned 24/7, you will get missed calls and if you are not responsive by calling them back, then the missed call will be answered by you competition by the time you get to know why they called in the first place.
- Dormant Facebook Pages - You would rather not have a Facebook page than have one that is not frequently updated and not manned. However, in this time and age of digital business, you will be at risk not having a Facebook page because your competition have their ready. You need to man the Facebook page just like you would man the telephone call because a missed post/question/comment would easily be taken-up by your competition.
- Twitter Handles with no followers - Having a twitter handle with no followers is like telling everyone who comes to your twitter handle that "Yes i exist but i do not have people interested in my product". People will not be interested in talking about your product or even listening to what you are selling if no one else is listening. you need to have you twitter handle manned and conversation driven to win over followers on a daily basis.
- Having no way to receive SMS messages from your customers - Most companies d not have a way of receiving queries, complains and feedback through SMS not knowing that smart phones only takes less than 40% of the handset market and that not opening a mode of communication to the remaining 60% will result to a closed market share. Your competition is enjoying all the attention because even without a smart phone you can send them SMS messages for free and they will respond to you.
- Email address that is not manned - Have you ever sent an email to an organization about an inquiry only to get response hours later if you are lucky. Most organizations even respond days later. This is a missed opportunity to address a prospective customer, an aggrieved customer etc. If you do not address this, your competition will.
- Having a website without Web-Chat - People will visit your website after you market it. It will be much better and surprising to all the visitors that visiting your website is just like visiting the office where someone is actually waiting to chat with you from the website. helping you navigate the website and answering all your questions. better yet, closing the sale and making the delivery without being asked to send emails that may never be responded or being asked to visit the offices that are over 20KMs from where you are. manning the website is equally important and will significantly contribute to your increased sales.
Tips on Engaging your customers in 2016
- Build a Community or Group - Create your own groups on Social Media e.g facebook, through SMS Subscription lists, e-Mail Newsletter list et.c.
- Celebrate together - Know you customer, celebrate with them during their happy moments like birthday wishes, give them offers during these special days and also allow them to celebrate with you during your happy moments by telling them on events happening in the business, achievements, offers, promotions etc.
- Offer Exclusive Content - Create content that is not available to the general public and requires subscriptions on either SMS, email or facebook forums.
- Solve a problem together - Create a platform through which they can tell you what is working and what is not working. Advice them of what you are doing to address all the concerns they have raised and make them believe that they are the onces who actually created the solution and that they are creating a product that belongs to them.
- Offer ways to interact - Create several contact channels in which they can reach you and you can reach them. Facebook, twitter, email, telephone call, SMS, web-chat etc should be a MUST because they are the basic contact points.