In today’s technology hungry age, we are flooded with social media from all most all corners of our everyday life. The benefits of this is of course businesses have the ability to hear from their customers almost constantly. This of course equates into an opportunity for a business to continuously engage with it’s customers in hopes of improving their offerings. On the other hand, a unhappy customer has the power to quickly and easily destroy a brand regardless of it’s size.
How can a small business use engagement to aid in building a stronger brand, make their customers happy, and keep growing their business?
A terrific showcase of both successes and failures in this area would the holiday shopping season. Unsurprisingly so, this is the biggest of all active times for customer engagement and feedback.
Below are some tips that all business should apply year round to help better engage with their customers.
Humanize your brand
In the center of it all, it’s important to understand that every customer (big or small) wants to feel that their needs are understood. They also need to be able to relate to your brand, even on some lower level. This is easier accomplished for certain products like Red Bull or even Poo Pourri.
Not to fret though, if your business is more of run of the mill B2B realm. It too can be humanized without having to squeeze it into a contrived persona that doesn’t exactly resonate with your audience.
Have someone within your organization, maybe even yourself, who is passionate about your brand or mission and is also a natural communicator. Create opportunities for this person to build their presence and promote your brand. They can regularly blog on your site, guest blog on others, be used in video content, present ebooks, and of course be the voice behind all your other social networking paths. This will equate your brand’s voice with a trusted face.
This past holiday season, social media feeds lit up with complaints surrounding product availability. Frustrations also seemed to be running high when shoppers were unable to apply discounts or coupons. One retailer saw a 78% increase in product availability posts on Black Friday, that’s a 71% increase compared to historical numbers.
Of course, most legit companies don’t set out to disappoint their consumers with lack of availability or falsely advertised prices. The issue more than likely lays in the the lack of internal company communication. With proper integration from a variety of data sources different teams are on the same page with what products should be ordered in advance or put up for “sale” on your site.
Small businesses are at an advantage when it comes to internal communication. Less people on the team, means it is less likely for someone to be missed. Use that to your advantage!
Don’t slip on your responses
Often times when we are swamped in the holiday rush or any other time of heightened sales, for instance a product launch, we tend to forget the basics. One of the core basics to any successful business is their ability to address their customer complaints and concerns in a timely and efficient manner. Your business should be available at all times to aid in correcting the problem with your customers.
When things go amiss, listening to the issue is often all that it takes to get your brand back on track with the consumer. Studies show that nearly half the people that have had bad experiences with a brand will return to do business if the company simply demonstrates it’s willingness to listen to the issues. Ignoring your social media complaints could bury your brand dead in no time flat.
Get out there and respond!
Don’t hide behind the pixels
Let’s not forget that even though we live in a digital age where the world’s interconnected on many fronts thanks to the internet, face-to-face interaction is still very much at the top of the customer engagement hierarchy.
While being receptive to your customer feedback has become increasingly important for all brands, it doesn’t negate the need for friendly, well educated real faces on your companies front lines. Social media should serve as merely one of the tools that is used to better see where your customer’s needs are, as well as where the potential holes are in your product flow, line, or staff.
365 days of Christmas
Regardless of the long-term customer engagement model that you have built, don’t let what you have learned from this past holiday season collect dust on a shelf till next year. Put the information to use 365 days a year, but most likely on a smaller scale.
Listen, learn, and leverage that knowledge to create a spectacular 2015 sales year!