One of the principal rules of marketing is: “It is always easier to sell to a customer than to a prospect.”
Today’s online marketers are obsessed with finding new followers, attracting users, and “filling the top of the funnel”. A tried and true concept, which is sometimes lost on this new breed of marketing experts, is focusing on customer service and loyalty.
The most successful companies, however, are focused intently on increasing the lifetime revenue dollars generated by each customer.
Here are some of the best techniques for improving customer service and solidifying customer loyalty.
Yes, we believe that every business should be an e-commerce business today, but the reasoning behind that push may surprise you.
Online sales certainly have the potential to increase your revenue, but more importantly, it gives your current customers a friendly and effective way to purchase more product and/or service from you.
Even if your company never sells to a new customer through your website, enabling your current customers to buy in a new way makes the investment required to create online ordering well worth the expense.
Additionally, once online ordering is available, it’s easy to leverage that into new streams of revenue or new platforms to attract first-time customers.
Technical Support or Customer Service
Some businesses require lots of service after the sale. Years ago, Gateway Computers became one of the largest computer companies in the world. They mastered this technique not by offering the best PCs or the lowest prices. They were the first company that made it easy to buy a computer. Their combination of website and telephone customer support created a massive customer base that was extremely loyal.
Unfortunately, for Gateway Computers, this also became their downfall. When other companies came into the market and were able to match or beat their customer service, the company quickly faltered.
In an era when all products and services require a much greater level of customer support, which often includes technical support, (we have Internet enabled refrigerators, and soon will have self-driving vehicles) the companies that provide the best 24/7/365 support are going to be winners in the marketplace.
Managing the flow of support inquiries is going to be critical for companies large and small. Your website can be a great way to provide support and filter more complex cases.
Capturing Peer-to-Peer Knowledge
One of our favorite companies is NewEgg.com. Their principal business was built to offer computer components to computer professionals. They adopted Amazon style reviews, and actually encouraged people to post critical reviews of their products. In fact, many of their products highlight the most useful favorable review as well is the most useful critical review.
By doing this, Newegg developed a high level of trust among its users. Furthermore, users began helping other users to become more informed customers. In this way peer-to-peer knowledge created an environment intense customer loyalty.
Peer-to-peer knowledge can be developed on a grand scale, but it can be implemented on a much smaller scale as well. Creating an ongoing list of frequently asked questions for your most prominent products or services is a great way to begin. Creating a wiki (user generated content) where the customers can communicate and offer ideas about the best use of your products is another technique with strong potential. Off-line user groups or conferences can also be a great way of uniting your customers.
Local Businesses Must Focus on Mobile Business
Most small local businesses today have a website. Businesses that rely on foot traffic have to make sure their websites are intensely mobile focused.
If the customer is at home or the office looking at in depth websites, they also have the ability to evaluate businesses from across the globe. Even with great information on your website, the competition for your business is going to be ever increasing.
However, local businesses have the advantage in a few ways, but only if they can reach customers instantly wherever they are.
First, create a “mobile first” website. Your core website should be well optimized for the user on a smart phone. If is easy to use by phone, larger screen interfaces will take care of themselves.
Second, make sure your website is “local search optimized”, so search engines as well as specialty directories are tied together making your webpage extremely easy to find.
Third, once you have captured mobile customers, keep them coming back. Offer coupons that are delivered by email or text message. Create online communities that mirror the communities where your customers live. Participate extensively in social media, and encourage interaction among your customers.
Developing strong customer service strategies takes your website from a simple online brochure into a true tool for developing customer loyalty and attracting new customers.