It has finally happened. You took your dream, the idea you had, and turned it into a business. Things have been great up this point. Business is booming, your number of online orders has been increasing daily. If ever there was a pink cloud, you are on it. Then you finally take a few minutes to sit and reflect. How do you keep the momentum going strong? What is next?
A good place to start focusing your attention is how to develop a more personal relationship with your customer base which orders online. Whether it is negative or positive feedback, word of mouth goes a long way in the small world of online business. Here is a list of a few ideas of how you can develop and cultivate deeper relationships with your customers, even if you only know them as a voice on the phone or a name on your computer screen.
Regardless if it is a customer’s first order, or you have their business for a while, continue to provide them with satisfaction through special deals and continuous support. Perhaps you could start emailing your customers whenever you will be having an upcoming sale or special offers. Give them updates on new product lines or items you may start carrying and ask them for feedback on your products or services that they already use.
Do not come on too strong while you are interacting with a customer. Allow them to lead the conversation. Give them the opportunity to tell you how you can be of service to them. By simply listening, you can make your job a lot easier. A customer knows what they are looking for. They might not be aware of a specific name or title, but if you are willing to listen long enough, you will receive all of the information that you need to provide what they are looking for.
Hearing someone is one thing. Actually listening to them is another. Anytime you are giving your time to a customer regardless if the situation is face to face, over the phone, or through an online chat, make sure that they have your full attention. Take notes if you need to. Just make sure that the customer feels you are interested in the conversation. Ask questions. Use the same words and vocabulary they are using so they feel your involvement.
If you tell your customer you are going to do something, actually do it. This may seem as a no brainer, but when asked why customers often change where they do their business, the answer they give is lack of delivering on promises. If someone cannot trust that you are going to do what you say, it is hard to keep them interested and excited regardless of the product or service you have to offer. Integrity is key when it comes to keeping your client base happy.
The trust you build between yourself and a customer is vital in them becoming a returning client. One simple way of continuing to build that trust is by letting them know in advance of any changes in the near future, despite whether you believe the effect will be negative or positive. Your customer will value the information ahead of time and it will increase their willingness to be a part of any upcoming changes.
Another part of building trust is your ability to admit when you are wrong. Mistakes are going to happen. Being honest about what has happened will let a customer know that you not only value their business, but you also have respect for them as an individual. Instead of going out of your way to cover up something that is wrong, be the kind of person that goes out of your way to bring it to the customer’s attention.
If your view of the customer is simply an increase in sales, they will notice by the way you conduct yourself. Instead, look at them as a business partner who has the potential for adding to the success of your business. Show them respect. Remember that they are your customer, and that means that they are always right. Looking at it as they win and you lose will lead to a negative feeling throughout any relationship you have with them. By looking at them as a person who can add to your success and can help you achieve the goals you have set, it will take some of the sting out of the fact that they are the customer, and because of that, they are always right.
Always treat your customer with kindness and make sure they know you are grateful for their business. One of the most important ways of demonstrating this is by how you interact with them. If they feel hurried or rushed, they might get the impression that they are more of a hassle and a waste of your time instead of someone you appreciate for helping keep your business thriving.
Rafi Cohen, a graduate of Baruch College & Brooklyn native is the Co-Founder @ Orders2me, an online ordering platform that gives restaurant owners all the features they need to grow their business in the digital age.
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