Content provided by a guest contributor.
Clients exist because people need services or products they themselves can’t do or create. You, as a business, provide these services and hope to be the one most customers come to for that service. Imagine a small town: if you are the only baker, and people want bread all the time, you will probably have a secure job. What you’re providing is unique (in that no one else is providing it), you have no competition, and it’s in demand. Every business, in reality, wants to be the equivalent of this small town baker, but in an increasingly competitive world – where people gain knowledge faster thanks to the Internet.
How then can we utilise the tools to retain, obtain and not scare away customers?
Perfect your social media presence
These days everything hinges on how your company is perceived online. Internet sales are dominating so much, entire businesses are taking a hit. Just consider the various closures of bookstores and music stores around the world, thanks to online merchants like iTunes and Amazon.
Indeed, people judge your business in many different ways and, due to the connectivity of the world, are able to contact you directly. Nowhere is this better demonstrated than in social media fails. Consider the terrible events at Amy’s Bakery.
After being visited by celebrity chef, Gordon Ramsay, for his show Kitchen Nightmares, the small restaurant gained notoriety: mistreatment of its servers, yelling unnecessarily at customers who were actually right, making poor food. Indeed, it was the first time Ramsay had walked out of restaurant. But this might’ve faded away into television obscurity were it not for the screen-shot worthy rantings on their Facebook page. There one of the owners continued to belittle others online, using all-caps and so on, at any customers who indicated negativity. A consistent response, even in the show, was that customers didn’t know what they were talking about.
You could put Amy’s Bakery social faux pas down to an anomaly. But the point is that other companies and people too have failed in other spectacular ways, sometimes unintentionally.
Hiring the right people matters greatly when they even have an appearance of representing your company. Though we like to think that people’s personal views don’t reflect the business they work for, perception is everything when it comes to reputation. For example, many people would be uncomfortable associating or giving money to a business that employs a racist.
Communication creates perception
The saying the client is always right is clearly wrong: Clients don’t get to be right just because they give you money or will give you money. They could be wrong about what your business does – whether you’re involved in plumbing or debit order collection; they could have the wrong impression about the extent of what you do. Yet, what matters is exactly how they perceive you.
You could be perceived as good or bad, racist or angry, unhelpful or friendly. You want customers to tell others, through the power of word of mouth, that you are a friendly, welcoming company that is efficient; you want to be associated with immediate responses and timeous delivery on promises. This isn’t solely dependent on actually being timely, friendly and effective – you need people to see this. Social media allows for this – Tweet positive responses, demonstrate through media reporting of your good work on your Facebook page, learn how to take criticism even from anonymous people online, etc.
Social media may be new but often it is everything. People have managed to become best-selling authors because they played their cards right on social media. If you can score a TV deal by using Twitter, you can retain customers by being social media friendly and competent.
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