What are some best practices to help you serve your customers and grow your business while keeping up with changing technology and changing customer demographics? It’s an important question and one that was asked and answered in a recent article by Deborah Shane on the Small Business Trends website.
“If you figure out who your customer is, what they like and need and how they prefer being communicated to, you can build a ‘customer centric’ relationship that can be mutually beneficial long term,” Shane writes.
She notes that Brian Solis, author of “What’s The Future of Business”, based his entire book around the idea of the need to create “experiences” that people remember and not just focus on transactions.
“The opportunity we all have right now with digital and social tools to build customer centric relationships is greater than ever before,” Shane observes. She cites a survey commissioned by RightNow Technologies and conducted by Harris Interactive:
- 89% of customers will pay 25% more for a better customer experience.
- 73% of consumers fall in love with a brand because of friendly employees or customer service reps.
- 89% of consumers do business with a competitor after a poor customer experience.
Here are some informative tips which franchisees and other small businesses can follow to make their companies more customer-centric and reap the sales rewards:
(1) Branded, Informative Landing Hubs
“The saying ‘you get only one chance to make a good first impression’ is truer today than it’s ever been. It’s expected, and the only thing some people will have to make a decision about whether to move forward with you” is what they learn about you online.
Shane recommends what she calls a “hub” – such as a dedicated blog-website like FranchiseAcumen.com – “and make sure everything is current and up to date, especially pictures and professional activity…. Consistently stimulating what people see and read including your website, blog and all your social media platforms keeps people interested.”
(2) Content Marketing Using Social Media
“If you don’t create it, there’s nothing to be found,” Shane says. “Just Google yourself and you’ll see what I mean.”
“What are you creating, publishing and sharing that helps people and positions you?
Content marketing has become a premier tool to build credibility, reach and buzz. Are you blogging, using eMarketing, creating video or podcasting and promoting and marketing yourself on social media?” All these options can be ways to use Content Marketing to your advantage.
(3) Purposeful Networking In Person and Online
Shane suggests, “Go out and meet people anytime you can. Balance your face-to-face and online networking. Use them in tandem and always follow up and thank people you meet that could be direct prospects or door openers to others…. Be an active part of your industry and meet different people doing what you do in different geographical areas.”
(4) Volunteer and Pro-Bono Commitments
“Getting involved in the community and world that supports you is just good business,” she continues. “Choose some causes, communities and issues you believe in and help them move forward.”
(5) Professional Development, Education, Building Relevance and Value
“Growing and increasing our expertise and adding more value to what we deliver is essential,” Shane writes. “With technology and trends driving change at a brisk pace, we should be committed to expanding what we know and apply that to our services and relationships.”
(6) 4 R’s: Rest, Recreate, Recharge and Relax
“I have seen way too many people crash, burn and fail from not integrating balance into their lives,” Shane says. “We must step back, get away from and allow time to rest, recreate, re-charge and relax with ourselves and our families. This can only make us better with our clients.”
Below are some additional resources and ideas she provides that can help you manage your franchise business and build those solid, long-term relationships with your customers and community:
This is such good advice. I cover this with a lot of my clients who buy a franchised business. Of course, most franchises are very up to date on how to gain and treat customers and learning customer “centricity” is a part of the overall franchise training program.
To learn more about how to select and grow a business that is just right for you, contact us at www.frannet.com/mhall.