CUSTOMER TIPS FOR YOU!Thursday 22nd September 2011
By Joanne Hillhouse
I thought the mention of the new offe15 percent off renewals for existing customers at Antiguanice.com was a good place to start because it deals with a key customer hook; incentives. It’s a reward for staying with them, a way of letting customers know that you value their business.
Keep It Real
But, as Antiguanice.com’s Alison Sly-Adams, with her experience on both the marketing and management end of business, cautions don’t offer what you can’t deliver. “Do not over promise,” she says. “The worst thing you can do is set expectations higher than what can be delivered.” Customers feel misled by false advertising.
Accentuate Your Assets
So why pretend to be something you’re not; let customers know where you stand in the marketplace – lower prices, better quality, exclusive brands, intimacy, a unique cultural experience, central location, remote location, community-minded; whatever your hook, work it. But don’t try to be the next guy.
“Remember that there are as many different customer types as there are businesses, (so) tell it as it is,” Sly-Adams advises.
So you’ve set up your web page; don’t leave it to gather cobwebs. “Send news, specials, what’s on listings regularly; it drives interest in the business and keeps people reminded about your services,” Sly-Adams reminds. “Even if you are a restaurant who has no special events, then send a photo of a busy night, or a great new dish on the menu, or your clients’ favourite dish. It’s amazing how a photo of a fantastic homemade burger can get people’s mouths’ watering and act as a call to action.” And though she’s speaking here of Antiguanice.com, really this applies to all the online marketing tools at your disposal. Don’t have time to do it yourself? Tap a consultant. It’s got to be better than doing nothing. “People want interaction and information.”
This means that whether on a social marketing network or via email, it’s in your best interest to respond – and respond quickly – to customer questions and feedback. A FAQ page or online help forum is time efficient and useful, you should have them to deal with recurring issues to be sure, but don’t disregard the personal touch. “The way in which you respond to their enquiries tells them a lot about who you are and the kind of business you are running,” Sly-Adams says.
She makes the point as well that notwithstanding the speed of communication, you need to be mindful of the nature of the relationship – the shorthand you’d have with a pal is not appropriate for communicating with a customer. So, use the appropriate register, style, and tone as “abbreviated words, incorrect addressing of individuals and not answering all of their questions can be things that turn off potential customers.”
It’s a given that listening is a part of communication. But in case we need to spell it out. Listen to your customers – and train your staff to do that too – but not in a defensive, or aggressive, way.
“Acknowledge the feedback, thank the person for taking the time to share it, and commit to making sure it doesn’t happen again to them or anyone else,” that’s Alison’s advice. “Often negative feedback can be turned into a positive.” I know, you’re thinking at this point, I don’t care what the marketing books say, the customer is not always right: some are rude, obnoxious, impatient, unreasonable, and I don’t want their business again anyway. But take a breath. The customer may not be right but a public back-and-forth with them isn’t going to play to your favour; and, really, like Alison says, “the general public is intelligent enough to see that one negative comment does not mean the business is not worth visiting…if, however, you are getting a lot of negative reviews, read, assess and take action.” I’ll add this, all customers won’t necessarily call you out but the ones who leave silent and dissatisfied determined never to return can be just as deadly to your business. So, pay attention to the non verbal cues as well.
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