• Get personal: Your customers want to feel like they have access to real people, not bots and frequently asked questions. Offer more than just automated email responses, and do not let your telephone prompts or website send them down a rabbit hole. Take full advantage of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Yelp and write responses when your customers post on your page. Post photos and bios on your website. This shows your customers that you are real people working on their behalf.
• Be available: Part of the personal touch is making sure your customers can reach you. For example if your business is primarily online, meet in person occasionally with local customers and offer video calls such as Skype for those farther away. Work early and late when needed, especially if your customers are in different time zones. Even providing customers with your physical address helps build their trust and reminds them that your company exists off the internet, as well.
• Cater to your customers: Make sure you are fully meeting your customers’ needs. Consider assigning reps to specific customers so they can build a relationship. Offer VIP treatment for your best customers to let them know they are appreciated. What special services might your customers like? Set up focus groups, interview customers, or run a survey to get ideas.
• Create communities: Your customers will feel even more valued if you treat them as important members of a community. You can bring various customers together in numerous ways, including webinars, interactive websites, social media, trade shows and conventions. And don’t forget that while your customers come to these forums to learn from you, you can learn as much – if not more – from them.
Sarah Haston is economic development director in Lebanon.