Thursday, February 27, 2014

5 Tips to Keep Customers Coming Back For More

Creating a large pool of loyal customers is extremely important to the sustainability of a business.  Having loyal customers allows you to up-sell your products at a more successful rate.  Great products and excellent customer service are key to creating loyal customers.  No matter what industry you are in, issues always arise; it is how you deal with these issues that can really make or break your relationship with your customers.  Customers want to find that one brand they can really trust.  Once that trust is built, they’ll continue to come back for more!  Check out these 5 tips on building customer loyalty for your business:

Fine-tune Your Product: This might seem obvious, however, it is extremely important to make sure you work out every possible kink in your product or service.  Planning ahead for any possible issues that might arise is also important.  Customers want to know that they can trust you to deliver on your promises.  A positive experience with your business will keep them coming back! 

Speedy Response: As we all know, nothing is perfect.  Issues come up whether we like it or not.  However, it is how we deal with these issues that really matters.  When dealing with customers, listening to their concerns is very important.  Take the time to make sure you really understand the issue of your customer; this even may require restating the problem at hand multiple times to make sure everyone is on the same page.  Once you really understand, deal with the issue in a timely fashion.  Customers are impatient and do not enjoy waiting.   In addition, check social media constantly!  Customers are turning to social media to complain about problems.  Follow up immediately with anyone complaining about your product via social media.  Reaching out in this manner will also add a personal touch to the interaction, making the customer feel special.

Interactive Touch Points: From sales to training to implementation to providing customer service, there are many different touch points with a customer.  Break down each point of interaction and find ways to fine-tune them.  Create a plan to make sure that each of these touch points are strong and practically fool proof!  This will give the customer a sense of consistent service, which is extremely important in terms of building trust.  A negative experience at one single touch point can ruin the overall experience for the customer, regardless of how positive the experiences at other touch points may have been.

Focus On the Journey: Once you have worked on fine-tuning each point of interaction, take a step back and look at the big picture.  Focus on the overall journey of the customer and see if there is anything that can be done to make the entire experience, as a whole, better for the customer.  This may include adding or removing a step in the journey or even reorganizing the flow of interactions.  See what can be done to make the entire experience great!

Feedback: The most important step in keeping loyal customers is asking for feedback, both on your product and in customer service.  This gives you the opportunity to see how things can be improved from an outside perspective.  When changes are made based on feedback, customers feel as though they are being listened to and have a say in what is going on.  Even being able to simply contribute feedback is a nice personal touch.

Now, take a step back and see how you can improve your business process to increase customer loyalty!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How Millennial Are You?

As Millennials continue to become a hot topic of discussion, you may ask yourself if you fall into the category of being a Millennial. Pew Research Center created an online survey to help you identify your generation. The 15 part questionnaire prompts questions ranging from how frequently you text to if you have a tattoo or not.  Take it here

If this survey doesn’t cut it for you, here are some more statistics that will help you accurately categorize yourself.

How often do you drive?  Millennials drive about a quarter less than their counterparts did eight years ago.

How many phones do you have?  41% of Millennials aren’t connected to a landline.

Use an alarm clock?  83% of Millennials sleep next to their mobile devices.

How badly do you want to own a house?  18% of Millennials say owning a house is a very important life step.

Married?  A fifth of Millenials in their 20’s are married, compared to roughly half of the boomer population at the same age.

Do you commonly bring a lunch into work?  Millennials are the driving force behind the growing fast food sub industry.

Dine out often?  Millennials dine out 20% less than their peers did five years ago.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Infographic: Shocking Employee Engagement Statistics

An interesting infographic by Officevibe captures popular misconceptions regarding employee engagement in the workplace. It stresses the importance of having committed employees and the overall impact they have on the success of the company.

We can see that many employees quit because they don’t like their boss, while only a fourth of managers try to engage their employees. Surprisingly, 90% of bosses agree that engaging employees is crucial to the company’s success. As long as this gap exists, companies will suffer from a brain drain of their most talented and motivated employees. With the knowledge that 87% of employees are less likely to leave if they are happy with their organization, the time is right for companies to focus on creating innovative employee engagement strategies that include feedback mechanisms and communications tactics that clearly articulate the company’s strategic goals. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tips for Boosting Your Brand With Social Media

With the number of social media channels growing, it is no wonder why most businesses focus a large amount of energy on marketing through social media.  However, simply having a page that posts bland content once in a while won’t cut it.  Customers are turning to social media to become engaged and interact with the brands of their choice.  There is nothing more disappointing as a customer than to look for your favorite brand’s Facebook or Twitter page, only to find out that one does not even exist! To fully engage and interact with customers, companies need to make sure their social media agendas are planned out properly and are in full swing.  Here are some small tips on how your company can improve its social media strategy to engage your customers and boost your brand!

Repetition: As you post between the large numbers of social media channels, finding content to post can start to become a difficult task.  Put in the extra time and effort to avoid being repetitious with your content.  Having a variety of content across all social media channels will increase your number of followers and engagement across the board.  Customers will see that each channel has different content, making them more likely to follow you on all channels to make sure they are as up-to-date as possible with your brand.

Images Are Key: When posting content on your social media pages, images can be a great way to capture the attention of customers.  They pop from the page and are instantly captivating.  Having a small image with a blog post or Facebook post can make all the difference.  Want to step it up a notch? Create some infographics.  These are a great and fun way to get your message across by using images and pictures.  They are very appealing and very handy.

Have Fun!: The content you post across the board does not need to be serious 24/7.  It is always great to see a company post something funny or witty.  It keeps your audience interested and engaged with your channel.  Whether it’s a poll, a funny image, a wish for a happy holiday, or even a joke, these will shake things up a bit and will excite your audience.

Have a schedule: It’s very important to create a posting schedule.  Scheduling out your content ahead of time and creating a consistent posting schedule can be really easy but it is also really important.  Consistency is key to social media.  Customers can learn when to start expecting content from you and anticipate your posts.  It is also important to schedule posts around specific times.  I believe the best times to post are around the morning and evening commutes, as well as lunch time.  These are the times when people are taking a break from their day to quickly check out what is going on in social media. And don't forget to plan for different time zones as well.

Get Creative: There are so many different social media channels out there now! It’s important to get creative and see how else you can start to engage your customers.  Try to see if there are any untapped markets you can use to reach out to your clients.  Mobile apps are the best place to start looking! Apps such as Instagram, SnapChat, and Vine can be more challenging for brands but it’s not impossible.  Tap into these markets and see if you can be innovative and start something new before anyone else!

Track your Results: Finally, the most important thing in regards to social media is to track your results.  Free tools, such as Google Analytics and Hootsuite, allow you to see how your channels are doing.  You can use these results to see what’s working and what’s not.  Use these results to make any necessary changes to your social media strategy to make sure it is top notch!   

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Power of Reciprocity in Business

The power of reciprocation is one of the strongest human elements that affect our behavior. A simple act of aid or generosity goes a long way. Robert Cialdini, Author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, explains that even in circumstances where we are not obligated to give back, we still feel a need to do so, because of the power of reciprocation. This natural tendency that all humans possess can be effectively used to strengthen your internal and external brand.

Respect: As a manager, it is important to treat your employees as equals. Giving every person a voice and being open to ideas allows for a strong and effective team. In effect, allowing your team the freedom to try new ideas without judgment will encourage them to experiment because you have created a positive environment for innovation.   

Trust: Building trust with your staff is important. The more trust you show them (i.e. not constantly peering over their shoulder, giving them space to work and report back) will be recognized and returned through more open communication. Once they believe you trust them to perform their jobs without constant intervention, they will work harder to exceed your expectations over time. 

Share valuable information: Customers are always looking for additional value without the additional cost. Offering them insightful knowledge, such as best practices or industry research, is a perfect way to build a relationship with a customer. Once an individual has recognized that they have received something of value, they are more likely to strengthen the relationship by offering something in return. This could be opting-in to your newsletters, following you on social media, or agreeing to a product demo. 

Build a long-term relationship: Building a relationship with your customers will help to ensure they remain loyal brand advocates. Show that you care by consistently providing exceptional customer service, offer quality products or services, and give them an incentive to remain loyal through deals, special status or other rewards.

The power of reciprocation is subtle and  rarely a conscious decision, but it is very effective, especially in the business world. Strive to provide value to  your employees and  your customers, and they will be more inclined to reciprocate in kind.