1) Think like a marketer.
There are certain industries where there is little or no marketer-consumer gap. Online business is not one of them. Here, marketers and consumers behave very, very differently.
This means that, if you want to know what your clients are thinking, the worst thing to do is to think like yourself. If you try to predict client response based on your own experience, chances are likely that your well-planned marketing strategy will result in the cyber version of a belly flop – lots of noise and splash but nothing to show for it.
Instead, do some research about your customer base: Where are they on social media? What books do they read, and how (print or Kindle)? Which websites do they frequent? Getting the correct answers will result in a marketing strategy that resonates with your clients and makes them realize you understand where they’re coming from. That makes them more open to your message.
2) Focus on offering great deals exclusively for new customers.
Exclusive deals will win you clients but won’t help much as far as influencing people. If you focus exclusively on these kinds of deals, clients will indeed flock to you – for as long as the deal lasts, or until another company offers a better one
Think about it: Can there be anything more frustrating for loyal customers than to see the same product or service they purchased at full price being offered at half-price – exclusively for newcomers?
So the trick is to balance your promotional deals for new clients with VIP perks and loyalty programs for the customers you already have. Winning new customers is great, but keeping them there is even better – and more important.
3) Cover up mistakes whenever possible.
If you really want to lose customers, then whenever you make a mistake, make sure you hide it. As a matter of fact, if you really want to lay it on, turn it around and make it your customers fault. One of our favorites is the classic one where the customer calls who’s having a problem with the website and the customer service agent says, “Well, who told you to use IE? You should be using Firefox.”
What should you do when something goes wrong?
If you mess something up, acknowledge the fact and do what you can to make amends. If the delivery was late, apologize and get it to where it needs to go as fast as possible, along with a discount or waiver on the shipping costs. Orders switched? Say, so sorry, we will do our best to get you the correct order ASAP – and do it, even if it costs you more. Throw in a coupon, gift certificate, free item or anything else that will demonstrate remorse and convey how much you value their business.
4) Pay little attention to your customer service agents.
We all know that customer service agents are not exactly way up there on the corporate totem pole. But ignoring them is a huge mistake.
As a CEO, CFO, COO or any other combination of corporate alphabet soup, the amount of clients or customers you are going to be in contact with is minimal. Conversely, the amount of clients your customer service agents are going to be in contact with is huge.
That means that, in a sense, you are who your customer service agent is. So be sure that your agents are well-trained, well-monitored – and well-treated. The better you treat them – with recognition of a job well done, a holiday bonus, lunch on the house or anything else – the more personal pride they’re going to feel in your company. And that pride will influence your clients, resulting in better service, better rapport – and more satisfied customers who will recommend your company or product to their clients and friends.
5) Assume that your customers don’t want to hear from you.
True. Customers don’t want to be inundated with unsolicited e-mails, newsletters, robocalls, tweets, texts or anything else.
That doesn’t mean they don’t want contact with the people or companies with whom they do business.
If you want to hold onto your client base – and expand it – you need to be in touch with your customers. Allow them to ask you questions and then answer them in a newsletter. Provide surveys about customer satisfaction and make the results available. Everyone loves a freebie, so if you offer weekly emails that sometimes contain an exclusive offer, coupon or even a free gift with your company name and logo, people will sign up. And then, if a competitor comes looking for them, the relationship they have with your company will keep them from being tempted.
So there you have it – five sure-fire mistakes businesses make that cause them NOT to win customers and influence people.
From now on, your business won’t be one of them.