When it comes to your business, your customers are your bread and butter, and without them your business would be nothing, with dreams of a successful, profitable business quite simply a fleeting image which appears once your head has hit the hay so to speak.
Customers can make or break a business. Get a good review or feedback and you’ll see your business soar, receive a bad press and you’ll soon notice a dip in your success. So, how exactly do you keep customers on your side? And most importantly listen to them?
If you aren’t measuring customers effectively, then you aren’t doing your business justice. If your customers are what makes your business the success it is, then taking the time to find out what they really think (good or bad) will take your business from Z-list to A-list in no time.
As Sara Keel from Babycup comments, “Customer Feedback is invaluable and makes all the hard work worthwhile, and has given me the encouragement and motivation to take my product from being the seed of an idea to a successful global brand.”
Make social media a priority
We share our lives on social media every second of every day, so it’s only natural that when it comes to singing a business’s praises or getting our frustrations out social media is our first port of call.
Positive or negative, social media is the tool that often gives us the quickest interaction with a brand, cutting out the need for lengthy email processes or time spent listening to a call waiting tone which can only add to our annoyance.
Social media requires instant responses and an unmonitored account could leave comments and questions without a response. Digital can be a fickle game and those in charge of social media accounts need to be responsive and able to deal with comments effectively. Leave it in the hands of someone slow to react and without the right decorum and you could have a social disaster on your hands.
Social isn’t just a portal for customer contact though, take the time to test out new campaigns and gain feedback on products and the brand to see which direction you should be taking.
Darren Sharples from Cloudstix offers his experience of the impact social media has had, “Social Media platforms have certainly helped Cloudstix see exactly what our customers and target audience think of our products and to better them. By being able to instantly see reviews both positive and negative of various products and manufacturers it has helped us to not only provide the products that people want and love but also avoid the ones that have been slated by the consumer. We heavily monitor social media and vaping forums to ensure we are at the forefront of this information.”
When used correctly online reviews can be gold dust to a business, but for the customer the tricky part is deciding whether a review left is a genuine one or simply automated by the brand in the hope it helps create a sale.
“A Nielsen study released last year showed that 66 percent of people trust online customer reviews regardless of whether they actually know the person. Your service or product might be the best on the market but your prospects are never going to take your word for it. Using social proof means they don’t have to because they’ve got impartial reviews from customers who’ve been there and done it all before.” Comments Ross Dempsey from Digital Impact.
An online review can help increase conversions. Unsure on a product or service? Then the best person to ask is someone who has been in your shoes, and by eliminating doubts and answering any questions the potential buyer may have an online review can be a surefire way to ensure the till keeps ringing.
But combatting negative reviews can be a tough nut to crack. Whilst some bad reviews can help to make the positive ones more believable, they can ring many alarm bells for customers. Respond to bad reviews, invite customers to email you directly and discuss any discrepancies they have. Taking the dialogue offline can help to keep any PR damage to a minimum and allow you to discuss a solution away from the glaring social spotlight.
In a digital age it’s likely your business has a website and if it doesn’t then where have you been?! Whilst in a physical store customers are there to be engaged with and create a dialogue, online it’s much harder to keep your eyes on a customer in real time, although not impossible.
Make Google Analytics your best friend when it comes to online and keep track of the customer journey from start to finish. How long did they spend on your site? What time did they arrive? What did they purchase? Where did they click? All of this data can allow you to build up a picture of your customer journey, alongside their demographic, location and much more.
If you aren’t familiar with analytics then you certainly should be so take the time to read up and understand how to use the platform and just why it will do you and your business so much good.
Customer feedback is nothing new, but miss out this vital aspect of running your own business and you could be putting yourself in a risky position.
Emily Jarvis is a former business consultant, she is currently working as a freelance writer sharing her expert advice and tips within the business industry.