“A man without a smiling face must not open a shop.”
– Chinese Proverb
Technology has been a blessing in so many ways- from medical advancement/saving lives to being able to connect with people around the globe that would have never been possible without these robust connection devices and the fascinating world wide internet. But, technology does have its pitfalls. One of my peeves being the absence of personable interactions and conversations with a voice and being in person, making it extremely challenging to stay connected authentically. I read articles day in and day out about content relevance, reading and knowing your audience and customers etc… but why are we trying to find ways to connect when really we already know how. That my friends brings me to my NOW focus.
The relationships that I have with every person on my email list, in my center of influence, on social channels, on my mobile/text list etc…- they all have meaning to me. The fact that each of these individuals made a conscious decision to connect with me, hire me, buy products/services from me and stay connected, I don’t take lightly. People are not just a revenue number (although, don’t get me wrong the numbers are important) but the true relationship dynamic, learnings and value that we mutually get from being connected and from staying in touch and making it so that our customers want to continue to stay brand involved is the essence truly of thriving businesses today and why I feel that I am still in business and profitable ongoing.
For those of you that already know me, have met me, worked with me etc… you know that I am a woman that thrives on leading, my absolute passion is teaching (and learning) and my life and career are always full of new adventures, partnering opportunities and adding new offerings daily to my suite of services and products. So this blog post will not come as much of a surprise to you when I let you know that I am officially committed and completely enthusiastic about focusing my career efforts, trainings, partnerships and my agency LEAD on one thing…spreading all things good specific to customer relationships and customer loyalty.
I sent out an email to my database recently to invite my friends/contacts to a virtual lunch so that we could reconnect AND so that I can share an opportunity. The response was absolutely overwhelming. I am still answering requests two weeks later. What really felt good was the conversations that I have had over the phone with real people, real voices, live interactions. It has completely shifted my marketing brain and made me realize that I want to focus my trainings, partnerships, relationships solely on spreading good, valuing relationships and creating loyalty.
SO- I have a few things to share in regard to spreading good through customer loyalty and building valuable relationships with your customers- basically- stop shutting them out and instead- let them in- time and again…:
1) Don’t “target” customers, I can just see it now- you have placed a bullseye on their back- STOP THAT! The ending doesn’t look good. Instead- invite them to chat and catch up with you or one of your team members or representatives, I use MeetMe to reconnect with my clients, friends, fans and center of influence. Client retention call centers are specifically trained in this area- I’d be happy to give you an introduction to several companies if you are interested in this service.
2) Don’t talk about “building relationships” – just show it through your actions- “Actions speak louder than words” blah, blah- thanks mom, you were right! What actions can you be taking that will result in showing your true commitment to customers and relationships with them.
– Asking people to share their great experiences via YELP, Google Review and Linkedin are absolute proof that you are committed to customers and the relationships that you have with them. (Note- Something strange is going on with the Yelp “purchase reviews” stories hitting the wire- I am digging into that currently and will report back) Google reviews are always SEO awesome and authentic.
– Social Surprise is one of the best ways to personally reach out, send a message, a text etc… with a lunch, coffee invite or gift card, great experiences get applauded and shared. Try sending out a gif with a text to reconnect- more about loyalty texting in a few.
3) *Be a company or brand that people sincerely and almost effortlessly want to be loyal to, here’s how:
– Create a program, app, mobile loyalty program that rewards, activates, shares, inspires
– Programs like Sprout Social, Tracx and Meltwater help compile your audience and customer behaviors, providing insights that you can use to build strong, authentic loyalty programs
– A cause, mission or promise: When you commit and communicate a cause that is important to you personally, your company etc… customers will naturally want to join in and help you pass the word along as well as get involved. Has anyone seen the ALS Ice Bucket challenge lately? Although controversial, and non profit- ALS is still a brand, a brand that moved people to join, ice, share.
4) Make it a journey, not a destination. Seriously, your customer relationship loyalty plan should be long term, weekly/monthly connection efforts. Have you even considered a text? Yep- this works, here is why- Have you checked out Starbucks.com text messaging program- makes me want to fall in love with the Pumpkin Latte…try it for yourself. Some great text mobile loyalty companies to check out- Five Stars, Belly Card and Spot On
5) DO valuate your relationships. How much do you value each relationship that you have built and the audience, fans and friends that follow/interact with you? How do you calculate this- set a 15 minute chat with me to learn how.
6) Respond to customer inquiries, upset and happiness in LIVE time. Consider this- 42% of online shoppers said they had contacted a retailer about an online purchase in the last 6 months. (Source: Jupiter Research/Forrester Research Inc)
The Takeaway: A high percentage of buyers on your website will have a question before completing their purchase. The speed, personal touch and accuracy with which you are able to provide an answer will make all the difference in whether they buy and keep buying from you.
7) Consider moving from a monthly subscription model to annual payment. Incentivize them. I am getting ready to launch an annual subscription marketing teaching program. I will share here as soon as we are done with beta testing. A few sites to consider- Udemy and Bloomfire. Great article via Yahoo Finance- Subscription Based Services are Changing the Shopping Game
8) Put one or ALL of these into practice:
– Spotlight YOUR Customers via social channels or your web site
– Send Customer’s a Treat from another Customer’s Business
– Honor an Achievement, Milestone etc… via social channels or your website
– Although discounts are great, I actually don’t always suggest it- another suggestion instead of offering a discount is to offer an upgrade or additional access or a complimentary product or service that is a small investment for you but a personable gesture and long-term investment for loyal customers.
– Refer Customers- send people into their place of business or to their website and let them know. “I sent Mr. Smith to your website to check out your xyz product, if he hasn’t become a customer yet- I suggest reaching out to him by (sending him a text or email)- NOTE: Make sure you get Mr. Smith’s permission to share this info.
– Make Them Laugh– Photoshop your client into a magazine cover, a famous movie poster, rename it something clever and email the picture with your note of “Thanks for your business!” If you’re a B2B business, even better! Your customer’s business team would look great starring in a Lord of The Rings, Star Wars or Harry Potter poster.
Are you Spreading Good with your customers and clients???
For a 15 minute complimentary chat with me
(so that I can assess your customer loyalty and social media landscape)- Schedule with me HERE
PS…Coming Soon to a computer and connection device near you- The Favor App & Site…
*Disclosure- source: Jupiter Research/Forrester Research Inc