In an era of instant communication, information overload and search engines, word of mouth recommendations and customer satisfaction are more important than ever before. Your online reviews ARE your reputation and how you handle Yelp, Zagat (Google+), Facebook and Twitter make the difference between success and failure. It’s vital that your business responds quickly and efficiently to customer requests, complaints and questions. Communicating with your customers across a variety of different channels, along with timely responses to inquiries and support issues, will help keep them happy, satisfied and ensure they remain customers.
- Use social media wisely.
It is imperative that you view social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as interactive platforms. Welcome the opportunity to engage with customers. Don’t be afraid of getting complaints online. If you respond promptly and sincerely, and offer to make it right, you can convert an angry customer into a raving fan. Handle complaints well, and you’ll create more positive opinions about your business. Tools like http://hootsuite.com/ give you a social media dashboard that makes it easier to monitor all of these accounts in one place.
- Utilize Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software allows you to collect, store and share every customer interaction, and every promise you make, throughout your organization. Because the information is centralized, your customer facing team has the knowledge that they need to efficiently assist each customer and provide the best possible experience with every interaction. Happy customers are customers that stay with you! Companies such as HubSpot www.hubspot.com/crm offer excellent CRM solutions designed especially for small business.
- Empower your customer support team.
How fast you respond to your customers and any problems they may have is crucial to their satisfaction. Is your customer support team able to act immediately to resolve customer issues? If an action is outside their jurisdiction, do they have direct access to someone who can help? Let your customer support team know what you expect in terms of customer service, and provide training if required. Then empower those employees to come up with creative solutions. Allow them, for example, to waive a fee, extend a limit, or upgrade a customer to your premium service.
- Add a live chat option to your website
Live chat gives your website visitors the opportunity to get immediate answers to questions and concerns when they want it and is terrific for use with both your prospects and existing customers. From your customer’s perspective, there’s no need to pick up the phone and feel pressured by a sales person or to send an email to support and have to wait 24 hours for an answer. The customer simply clicks a button to chat with you, types in their question and you respond in turn. There are services out there to help make adding live chat to your website a fairly simple and affordable thing to do. My Live Chat https://mylivechat.com/ offers free and low-cost solutions for small business.
- Invest in your mobile strategy. The fastest growing trend online is the switch from desktop to mobile. Did you know that mobile searchers are ready to do business? According to Google data released in October 2012, 50% of mobile searches have local intent. Another study of 2012 mobile search behavior by Nielsen, xAd and Telemetrics concluded that 90% of mobile restaurant searchers “convert” and 64% convert within an hour. Searchers for automotive products and services converted the same day 51% of the time with 34% initiating a purchase within 1 hour.
Are you focused on making it convenient for your customers to do business with you? Have you looked at your site on a mobile device lately? Are you targeting mobile with your online advertising? Creating a mobile friendly version of your website is essential.
- Don’t assume!
The very best way to improve your responsiveness to customers is to ask them directly for suggestions. You may very well be surprised by what they have to tell you. Try emailing a short survey with a discount attached or providing some other incentive for responding, like a gift card. When it comes time to build your survey check out SurveyMonkey https://www.surveymonkey.com/. This easy to use software tool helps you build your survey, ask the right questions, collect the responses and provides analytics for understanding the results.
Having an amazing product or service isn’t enough to hold onto your customer base. Putting responsiveness at the top of your small business priority list shows your customers that they’re valued and you’ll be rewarded with customer loyalty that lasts.
About the Author
Megan Totka, is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.