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.

What did 2015 teach us?

What did 2015 teach us?

canstock26475280As 2015 comes to a close, there are several lessons that can be learned from large companies who stumbled in their marketing.

  1. Don’t market your restaurant as being healthy, then ignore food safety.  Chipotle learned this lesson the hard way.  After claiming early in the year that they were going ‘all natural’ and eliminating GMOs, they suffered from many outbreaks of E coli which sickened over 200 people.  Oh, and try not to make your main food items a whopping 1,000 calories.  Does not sound very healthy.
  2. Vet your social media campaign before execution. The internet has an uncanny ability to take any mundane attempt at promotion and turn it against a company.  There were many cases of this happening in 2015, including Bud Light’s ‘Up for Whatever’ and #AskSeaWorld.
  3. Don’t use war to glorify your widget. UnderArmour, in a case of what can only be explained as ‘our Marketing Director was on vacation’, used an icon image from World War II and inserted a basketball theme.  Just don’t.  Please.
  4. Manage your promotional links. This includes QR codes and short URLs.  When you are done with a campaign, you can’t let these lapse, as Heinz Ketchup learned when a QR code on one of their bottles directed users to a porn site.
  5. Don’t direct customers to commit a crime.  This should be self explanatory.  But apparently nobody told Bloomingdale’s. They created an ad that told people to spike their date’s drink when they were not looking.

When all else fails, hire an expert to help.  And have a successful 2016!