There is no doubt that social media is fabulous at connecting you to people and brands you may otherwise not encounter. But in maintaining those connections and moving beyond the ‘you’re so awesome’ and ‘great work’ superficiality of it all that we see on a day-to-day basis, nothing beats a personal touch. I work hard to make deeper connections with a smaller group of people and businesses I admire than trying to scratch the surface of everyone I encounter. And, I have a HUGE respect for anyone who makes and effort to do the same with me. And I mean the genuine ones, because I have my b.s. detector on high alert and can spot that faux sincerity a mile off. If that’s your approach then stop it. Now. It reeks of desperation and high school-like please, please like me from a mile off. You know the ones, they only lock in on the people and brands who they stand to personally gain from be it VIP invites or free product or other general somethings for nothing. It makes me puke, I wish people could see through this! But I digress…
So what can you do to show love for your customers in your business? These are my Top 5 Creative Ways to Love Your Customers:
1. Say thank you, and mean it, to welcome your newbies. If you can do this face-to-face sometime and look them in the eye then even better! But I get that we are increasingly doing business in a borderless way and our customers might be interstate or even international so this is not always possible. Another way to say thank you could be a hand written note, I’ve had and written plenty of these, they never grow old. Or a welcome pack for new customers sent by snail mail, I got one of these from LouenHide and I lurved it. Include a handwritten note, details of where to join your social media community, a reminder to sign up for your newsletter and a compelling reason to buy more and receive a bonus from you. Note, I said bonus and not discount (see below).
2. Reward your regulars. A large chunk of your sustainable cashflow is going to come from regular customers. You might have people who are drip feeding your business with small purchases but over time as they get to know, like, trust and love you even more they can turn into much bigger customers. Treat everyone who comes back with equal love, regardless of the size of their order. Be sure to set up your sales funnel so that your smallest offerings lead to a median offering and this leads to your biggest. Make it easy for people to do business with you, once they buy then offer them a bonus (not a discount) to buy more. A typical bonus might be a 2-for-1 offer or to purchase a bundle of goods and receive an extra something for free – with an expiry on this offer. I’ve done a longer term offer where the bonus is reduced the longer it takes you to respond. If you only sell your time you can still offer this type of deal, but you need to start working toward offering a tangible product so that the business (and cashflow) is not dependent on you always being present.
3. Nurture your returning customers. I don’t buy a lot of clothing online, I’m a gigantor, it’s awkward to get things that fit and quite frankly I’d rather save myself the tears! But, I have bought some brands that I love from the gorgeous girls at BirdsNest. This business has a soft spot in my heart because though they are based in regional Australia, they play a big game and everything they do is infused with passion! They put handwritten notes in my parcels, they follow up via email to check that everything is ok with my order and recently when I ranted about how I can just never find jeans to fit they put me in touch with their in-house stylist who sent through some specific suggestions from their huge collection. Now that, is a-w-e-s-o-m-e service and has won me over! Not only that, every time my order arrives each one is carefully wrapped in tissue, sealed with a branded sticker and packed in a re-useable branded bag (which I normally give away if I can’t personally use) and I. love. this. I feel important, I feel nurtured and it feeds my pretty packaging OCD tendencies.
4. Listen to your customers. Just as you say thank you and then reward your customer you should also make it easy to listen to and engage with them. Social media platforms like twitter and Facebook are great for doing this. Ask questions, offer tips, solve problems, outline approaches you have taken but tell them what you want them to do next (like/ share/ comment/ retweet with their input). Keep the action you require brief, and if you’re asking for a comment then break the ice by adding your own first. Your future product or service offerings should be to solve the issues that they tell you about. Your customers know all that you need to know about what to launch next, just ask them and listen then show them that you are listening by taking action.
5. Connect. My best, best, BEST moments this year have come from putting myself out there both online and off. I’ve been to so many networking and information events then followed up on Linked In to keep track of all the foxy people in one place. Often after that we’ve made a point to either catch up again for a coffee (or something stronger *wink*) or at a future event to talk about their business or try to solve a cool problem together. It’s been amazing, I find it soooo energising and I just wish there were more hours in the day to do more it! Events I go to regularly include those run by Business Chicks, Meet and Eat Melbourne and the Australian Business Women’s Network and I look forward to being more involved with KPI and the Centre for Sustainable Leadership this year. From the bottom of my heart I would encourage you not to spread yourself too thin by choosing lots of different ones, just choose a few and go deep.
And that’s my top 5! Don’t ever take your existing customers for granted, it’s an expensive risk for any business and one that can cost your dearly. Dedicate a good portion of your time to connecting with your customers and your potential customers and make sure you are using every opportunity to show that you care in a very sincere way.
Over to you, what have been some of the most delightful experiences you’ve had in dealing with people or brands? Or what do you do in your business to love your customers? I’d love to hear in the comments below!
- Inspired, with jazz hands!
- Motivated, like riding a unicorn!
- Like I need a nap
- Indifferent, like butter vs margarine
- Less words, more pictures/ interpretive dance