We’ve heard of the adage, “The customer is always right.” In today’s digital world, negative comments about products and services can spread like fire. Should they cater to all 1-star reviews of customer experiences? Some business owners and their service representatives feel like they’re always walking on thin ice when it comes to winning customers, keeping them, and obtaining their referrals. In this blog, we’ll give you tips on how your customers can guide your marketing strategies. We hope improving customer service becomes your goal as you change to a positive marketing mindset for 2020!
This is also the start of a three part series about marketing and mindset for business owners- so be sure to catch the next two in the series!
Tips for Letting Your Customer Guide Your Digital Marketing Strategy
Tip #1: Listen.
Listening doesn’t necessarily mean giving in to all their demands. Often, business owners miss opportunities for innovation when they close their ears to negativity. But of course, you don’t want to “kill the messenger. Sometimes they can bear the message most rudely and unacceptably. Yet, listen to the message. Learn to filter, distill, and extract the meat of the matter.
What’s the value of getting customer reviews when we only look at the 4-5 star ratings and ignore the 1-star ones? When you present a white sheet of paper with a tiny hole to a customer, you hope they see the sheet, not the hole. But humans seemed programmed to notice the negative, that little speck, then puncture and magnify it.
Sometimes, it only takes one bad experience to make the news. According to a Consumer Report article that discussed the Arizona University Rage study, “Each dissatisfied complaint spreads the word to an average of about 18 people.”
But there’s good news. A personable customer service representative who takes the extra mile to understand where the customer is coming from, usually mitigates the damage before it rips the whole paper apart.
Do you need to hire someone with a psychology background to sit on the front desk, answer the phone, or troubleshoot bloopers? That’s up to you. A degree doesn’t necessarily translate to empathy and the ability to reach out to others with a human touch. It’s one who knows how to be silent knows how to listen. Sometimes, allowing the customers to vent their frustration can lead to the solution.
And after you listen: use responsiveness
Train yourself and your staff to have open ears. You’ll develop a key trait crucial to all successful marketers: responsiveness. Responsiveness means addressing a need at the right time, right place, the right way, and with the right people.
When you hire customer service representatives or customer care representatives, they should be equipped with marketing skills. Include smiling as part of their job description along with the capacity to synthesize and analyze data. They’re there not only to throw water on the fire but also to explore where the fire is coming from and where it’s spreading.
In the past, business owners conducted market research and survey. They used the result as a basis for product or service improvement. But in this digital era, we have access to big data but don’t know how to handle it.
Learn to listen to digital cues. Your website alone can give you trends on whether your readers are happy or yawning about your content.
Business owners and service providers pay annually for their website but know nothing about digital marketing analytics:
- How much traffic are you getting from your site?
- Are there high performing pages or topics that are shared in social media?
- What do your readers want to know more of?
- Where is your traffic coming from?
- Is your Facebook page your main referring site or can your customers find you in Google search?
These insights are easily accessible and within your fingertips, but if you don’t know what button to click, you’re missing half of what your target audience is saying.
Listen and listen well, and in more ways than one.
Tip # 2: Engage.
Once they start to talk, ask.
Ask for an explanation. Ask for details. Ask for clarification. It’s easier to engage customers when they vent on your platform rather than on a public domain.
According to Consumer Reports, consumers turn to social media as a last resort, and often, out of frustration when they have failed all the usual routes.
Create as many funnels on your platforms. Engage customers using chatboxes or social media pages, where they can leave feedback, comments, or queries. People disengage fast once they hear an automated message with many dial-throughs to access your customer service line. By the time they reach a live person, they may have also reached the end of their patience. Having a call-back option often works better. Make sure to reach out to the customer, no matter the issue.
Engagement requires a sincere effort to get down to the problem and find solutions that will improve the quality of service. Customers would often volunteer ways to improve products and services. Take down notes and relay to your quality improvement or research and development personnel. It’s not all about making excuses and apologizing, although the latter may sometimes be warranted. Step in their shoes. See their perspectives. When you address today’s problems, these become tomorrow’s innovations.
Tip #3: Integrate.
Listening and engaging will naturally result in a change in our perspectives and mindsets. Removing our blinders will expand our horizons and give us more data for consideration, assimilation, and integration.
Too often, we project our wants to our customers, which can be off-putting. A hairdresser once insisted on a hairstyle for her client, and ignored his inputs, stressing her expertise in her craft. This is a time and place to let the customer be your guide. By not doing so, the customer didn’t return for his next haircut and found someone else.
Integrate what you’ve gathered from customer feedback into your plan of action and marketing strategy. This ensures that you not only meet customer expectations but will often exceed it.
Keep the processes simple and easy. Life is complicated enough. There are no perfect products or services. It’s all about handling a negative customer experience and turning it into the positive.
Invest in your people. Orient and train them well. Nurture a proactive environment so your people know when to refer up the ladder in addressing issues and not wait for the customer to say, “May I speak with your manager.”
When you allow customers to guide your marketing strategy, you win their business, keep them, and get them to refer you to others.
Leave the Marketing to Us
Not sure how to navigate all the details of a solid digital marketing plan? We can help! Schedule a free business review here to find out how we help. You can use these insights for a positive mindset, and let us do the marketing for you.