Every single one of us is someone’s customer, and your business wouldn’t survive without them, but who exactly are YOUR customers? As much as you should avoid a ‘one size fits all’ approach, having a clear idea of your customers’ demographic is the first step in creating good customer connections. If you know who they are and what they like, it will be far easier to connect with them and keep them coming back for more.
Once you’ve worked that bit out, here are a few ideas to get connected and stay connected.
Treat all your customers like your best customers (and your best customers better)
What’s your worst customer service story? Now, remember a time you felt really well looked after... A little bit of a discount, something delivered personally, someone who made you feel genuinely heard. Aim to turn every interaction into a great customer service memory.
If you have staff, consider empowering them to be able to offer a little extra incentive where they feel it’s warranted - either as a deal-clincher, a thank you, or even a small pick-me-up for someone having a bad day. It can be the smallest of gestures that stay in people’s minds the longest, so make your business memorable and reap the benefits of return customers and recommendations for years to come.
Read and respond to reviews
Customer reviews give you great insight into what you’re doing right, and potentially ways you can improve. No one likes a bad review, but the right response can very much work in your favor. Whether you’re politely calling out a troll or addressing and rectifying a genuine customer complaint, an appropriate, timely reaction to a negative review will speak volumes to your existing and potential customers.
There’s no point releasing a new product or service or having a sale or special offer when no one knows it’s happening. It’s not just about doing yourself a favor - letting your customers know about a great new deal is in their best interest as well. Whether you’re inclined towards email, SMS, and social media, or if your style is closer to a grand launch party, skywriting and searchlights - get it out there!! No one likes to hear about a deal the week after it ends.
In the digital world:
Be social on your socials
I sound like a broken record, but you just can’t underestimate the current power of social media. It’s especially important when it comes to making a personal connection with your customers. Businesses can often appear as impersonal, faceless organizations - social media is one of the easiest ways to show that your business is the product of real people. So post regularly, and always respond to comments and feedback.
Don’t be afraid to ask
Customer feedback is invaluable. Polls and surveys are a great tool for gaining insight into your customers’ thoughts and opinions. Be sure to acknowledge the feedback, even if it’s not what you wanted to hear, and implement changes where you can. Encourage your customers to post about their good experiences with your business to create some fantastic testimonials.
Send emails with interesting articles and blogs. Offer a short webinar, an information sheet, or a checklist. Post information that is helpful and engaging. Show your customers the back-of-house and behind-the-scenes side of your enterprise. Don’t make all of your digital presence business-focused - let your customers get to know a bit about the real you. Videos are becoming more and more popular and are a great way to engage with your customers and create a personal connection.
The tactile stuff:
Physical thank yous
Never underestimate the power of a handwritten note. That personal touch can help your customers feel a direct connection with you, even if they never have the chance to meet you in person. A physical discount voucher or small gift for your return customers can also contribute to maintaining a genuine connection and generating loyalty.
Make a phone call
Yes, you’ll probably end up leaving a voice message because who answers unknown numbers these days, but a follow-up phone call to gauge customer satisfaction, or to let an existing customer know about an exclusive deal or special event, can go a long way. They might not all call back, but most will appreciate that you took the time out of your day to reach out and connect with them in real-time. It’s a dying art, but not one without value.
If you have a storefront or offer a physical service, this one is easy. Keep in mind that, as the business owner, it’s extra important to make these face-to-face interactions count. A first-time customer might only be coming to you for a product or to get a job done - it’s your aim to make them want to come back for the personalized service.
If you’re in less of a ‘direct to the public’ role, consider ways you might be able to generate face-to-face meetings with your customers - arrange to have a stall at a local market, trade show, or exhibition, or host a VIP night at your warehouse. In-person interactions are the ultimate way to create personal connections between you and your customers.
Good, bad, and indifferent, we need our customers to survive. Connected customers are happy customers, which leads to repeat business and referrals. Happy customers = happy businesses. So go forth, connect and be happy.