Gaining the favor of your customers is no easy task. Competition is fierce, especially among companies that support e-commerce, and there are multiple avenues for shoppers to turn to if they don't receive the level of service they expect.
Thankfully, there are a few tried-and-true strategies you can use to ensure engagement, breed brand loyalty and adoration by your customers. Businesses of all kinds and all sizes can leverage these tips, and can work to become the apple of their customers' eyes.
1) Make it simple for customers to reach you
Many companies today provide multiple ways for consumers to reach out. This level of availability enables your audience to contact you directly with feedback, both positive and negative, and helps you address any problems your customers might have.
However, it's no longer enough to simply have a customer service line or live chat support. These features should be front and center for clients, and should be easily accessible. Don't make consumers jump through hoops to provide you with thoughts about your service or your product offerings.
2) Keep an ear to the ground: Make sure you're listening
The next step here is to ensure that you have a way to see and hear all of the feedback your customers are offering, especially if you work with a number of different sellers.
A service like PriceSpider's Channel Reports makes sure that nothing falls through the cracks, and that you have a single place to go to view ratings and reviews. This way, all the feedback gathered from yours and your seller partners' websites is easily accessible to you and your marketing team.
"When a customer calls to vent about a problem, let them!" Watkin wrote. "They can go off for a while but they will eventually get tired and leave space for you to speak and work toward a solution. So many times I've chosen to go toe to toe with a customer, causing the issue to escalate, when I should have just let them go off for a while."
It's also imperative that you not turn a blind eye to negative comments. Customer Service Life contributor Jeremy Watkin recently reviewed Adam Toporek's book, "Be Your Customer's Hero." In it, Toporek discusses the importance of hearing customers out and letting them vent, especially when they have an issue with your brand.
Customers want to feel heard. Your brand should provide eager ears, and your customer service representatives shouldn't be looking to go to battle with someone who took the time to reach out to your company.
3) Use customer feedback to your advantage
One of the best things about a service like PriceSpider's Channel Reports is your ability to get the clearest picture of customer feedback from every seller source. This provides you with an opportunity to aggregate and analyze your shoppers' comments, and take action when necessary.
For instance, if several customers comment on a similar issue, or a way to improve your offering, it can really benefit your brand to listen and adjust your approach accordingly. In fact, one study from the White House Office of Consumer Affairs found that for every customer that brings up a complaint, there are 26 more who don't bring it to light with the brand. This means that heeding feedback and enhancing your offerings based on customer comments can serve more clients than you might realize.
"Enhancing your offerings based on customer comments can serve more clients than you might realize."
4) Observe customers in real-world settings
While providing avenues for feedback and listening to customer comments is imperative, it's also important not to wait for consumers to come to you. Monster contributor Jon Picoult noted that leveraging ethnographic research, or insights gleaned while observing your customers interacting with your products/services and your brand, can be particularly telling.
"This technique ... helps reveal insights that customers would never think to share with you," Picoult wrote. "[Y]ou get an unfiltered look at the customer experience. You get to see how people make purchase decisions, how they use your products, how they use your website and how they satisfy needs that aren't currently addressed by your offerings."
This process also provides myriad opportunities for enhancements, and can help you pinpoint and address underlying, yet critical, customer preferences.
5) Make the extra effort: Go above and beyond
Some of the most coveted marketing your brand can earn is word-of-mouth recommendations from your own customers. This shows potential clients that you've earned a reputation, not only for your products and services, but also for your dedication to customers.
However, only top-notch consumer experiences get talked about. One way to help ensure this kind of brand publicity among your audience is by taking things a step further for your customers, especially in the event that they encounter a problem. Watkin refers to this as becoming "the customer's personal detective."
"Remember, a Hero-Class rep never comes back empty-handed, even if the only thing she brings back to the customer is an explanation of how hard she tried," Toporek wrote, according to Watkin.
Go the extra mile, and your brand is sure to earn a positive buzz.