Your customer has a question…

Your customer has a question…

Business owners talk to their customers all the time, right? Well…not always.

I am continually surprised by how many large companies do not respond to their customer or potential customers on social media. WHY? If a customer walked into your store or called you on the phone, would you ignore them? I would hope not! If you are not going to engage with your audience on social media, then maybe that is not the right channel for you to communicate.

Don’t be like those big companies. You are in a unique situation as a small business to engage with your customers at a personal level.

Here are some common queries that customers ask and how to respond to them:

Logistical questions: What time are you open? Do you carry a certain product?

Response: Always, always answer these type of questions. As quickly as possible. If you use Facebook, you can even set up standard responses. Or develop a list of answers to common questions so you can easily respond to your customers. These are no-brainers.

Compliments: They love your products, had a great experience with an associate or want to share your generosity.

Response: Some businesses think they don’t need to respond to these type of messages. But that is wrong. By responding (particularly to a public comment), you elevate these brand-boosting messages. If it is a really good comment, you might even think about asking the person who made it if you could use their comment (or image) in your marketing. This is called UCG, user generated content.

Complaints: They had a bad experience with you, your staff or your products.

Response: It may not be comfortable, but you need to acknowledge complaints. Do not just leave them hanging out there without responding. Show empathy. Make it right (if you can). There is no excuse for not responding to a complaint, particularly when it is public. Responding shows everyone else that you are paying attention and make things right if there is a problem.

Does it matter if the messages are direct to you or public comments? In most cases, no. If you don’t respond to public comments and questions, everyone will see that you are not engaged with your customers. If you don’t respond to direct messages, you are ignoring customers who are actively seeking you out. They took the time to find you online to ask a question. You should take the time to respond.

Have more questions about engaging with your customers, contact me for a free 30-minute get acquainted call.

Loyalty programs: Good customer service or necessary evil?

Loyalty programs: Good customer service or necessary evil?

When it comes to customer loyalty programs, there are two schools of thought. The first is that providing enticements to customers should not be necessary and is a cost without great reward for the company. The second is that offering rewards to your customers is just good business and inspires, well….loyalty.

Over the past few years, rewards program companies have cropped up. Some are better than others. Some understand the nature of customer loyalty and some are just going through the motions. If you will be looking to start a customer loyalty, be sure to do your research before choosing a vendor. Once you start, you are stuck with what you purchased unlessĀ  you want to give your customers whiplash and degrade customer loyalty.

So should you employ this type of customer engagement? That depends. You first need to ask yourself some questions:

  • Are you customers repeat customers? If you sell something that people don’t buy very often, having a customer loyalty program probably won’t change that.
  • What reward could you offer that will get your customers to come back? If you own a restaurant with a very high price point, getting a $5 credit after 5 visits is not most likely going to be a reason to come back.
  • Can you use a loyalty program to encourage customer referrals? These types of programs aren’t just to bring current customers back, but can be used to garner new customers as well.

Do you have a customer loyalty program? How is it going? Have you had growing pains? Let us know about in the comments or on social media!