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Author Biography:

Stephanie Taylor Christensen  is a freelance writer who covers personal finance, career, health,and small business news. She is the founder of Indebtedless and Om for Mom prenatal yoga in Columbus, Ohio. Connect with her on Twitter.@STCWriting or www.stephanietaylorchristensen.com



Where's The Love? 3 Simple Ways To Deepen Your Customer Relationships
By Stephanie Taylor Christensen Friday, February 27, 2015
The onset of Valentine’s Day often turns our focus to love—but it’s as relevant to the relationship your business has with its customers as it is in your personal life. Here are three simple ways to deepen the connection your business has with its customers and prospects.

Ask For Reviews At The Right Time

Unbiased feedback is a powerful purchase influencer. (In fact, one ZenDesk study revealed that online reviews play a role in nearly 90% of purchase decisions). The challenge in getting customer reviews that provide an honest account of a customer’s experience (good or bad) is about timing.  Ask too soon, and the customer may not trust you enough to partake. Ask too late, and any of the emotional connection your experience may have induced has worn off.  To identify the optimal point to ask for a review, examine your three most basic sale cycles from start to finish. At some point in the cycle, every customer should receive proactive communication from you, ideally delivered in the same medium they used to place an order.  (If they visited in person or phone, you’d call them; if they ordered online, send them an email). Simply let them know that their business is important, and you want to check in with their experience and level of satisfaction with it. When customers self-report having been pleased, ask for the review. Include direct links to your profile on online review sites where the customer can share their thoughts. Follow up with any customer who is less than fully satisfied to amend any issue they experienced. Once you’ve righted the wrong, ask them for a review.  As you learn more about how customers respond to your review requests, experiment with variables to identify best communications method for the “ask,” the optimal language to use, and when to ask for their help.  It may take some time to get the response you hope, but every attempt is a learning experience that can eventually make a lasting contribution to your business.

Make Empathy The Core Of Every Business Decision

Your businesses’ long-term sustainability depends largely on how well you understand your customer’s emotional needs, challenges, likes, and dislikes—and the degree to which you take them into account when making business decisions. The process can begin by simply shifting your perspective. Evaluate pricing and promotional strategies, shipping and return policies, and hours of operation through the eyes of your customers. Your understanding of what your customers want (and how to give it to them) is the foundation of a delivering a positive customer experience that people want to experience repeatedly, and refer to others. Ultimately, your loyal customers are your greatest marketing tools, and a source of competitive advantage. Consider a recent survey by customer science firm Dunnhumby. It revealed that not only do all loyal customers tend to be less price sensitive, even those who rank as “very price sensitive” initially spend about 15% more on purchases once they become loyal to a business

Make Your Communications Relevant

If you’ve ever tried your hand at blogging or social media, you know audience attention isn’t easy to win. Win more customer love for your content by paying close attention to your headlines, and how well they facilitate a customer relationship. Headline research generally indicates that people are more likely to respond to quick hitting, actionable language that evokes some kind of emotion, whether shock, anger, surprise or delight. Time-pressed readers also tend to favor headlines that include a number (5 ways to..), and addresses them personally (for example, use the word “you”). Feeling creatively short on ideas? A headline generator tool like that offered on Portent can inspire some unique twists on how to approach even basic content. When sharing on social media, remember that you’re not just competing for audience attention with other businesses; you’re competing with personal social connections. Read your posts out loud to see if they sound relatable before you publish.


 
 
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