Posts Tagged ‘customer’

Social Media Concerns: How to Manage Dissatisfied Customers

The essence of social media is providing an avenue to connect with customers online. As a business owner, you will have the opportunity to present the features and benefits of the products that you are offering.

Your readers, in turn, will have the chance to review, purchase, or complain. At some point, you will experience a dissatisfied online customer who will complain about bad service or a broken promise.

It is your job to take this opportunity to convert an irate client to a satisfied and returning customer.

Here are some tips to consider:

Step One: Be Aware

You cannot address an issue that you do not know about. Listen to the concerns of your customers by allowing them to leave comments on your website. Keep watch of the activity on your Facebook page. Make sure to keep a regular check on Twitter hash tags or replies related to your business. Read forums and review sites that cater to the nature of your business. Knowing about the negative comments and feedback about your products and services in the soonest possible time will help avert a potentially disastrous outcome.

Step Two: Respond Immediately

Immediate action is required when dealing with customer complaints. The longer you take to make a statement, the harder it becomes to resolve the situation. On occasion, you will need intensive research and background checks before you can provide an acceptable explanation. In such situations, you can simply leave a message explaining the actions you need to take and a turn around time for a response.

Some offensive comments are not worth the response. If the criticism is made out of spite or bigotry, then it may be best to simply delete the post. Your other customers will ignore rude or discriminatory remarks especially if made without basis. Instead, you should focus on working on action items that are within your control.

Step Three: Connect With Your Customer

Avoid canned or scripted responses. Speak like an actual person and try to relate with how your customers must be feeling. Giving them a copy of your terms and conditions will only aggravate the situation. Acknowledge their concern and let them know that you understand what they are going through. Empathise with them and let them know that you will feel the same way if the situation happened to you. Reassure them and tell them that you will do everything in your power to resolve the situation.

Step Four: Make Things Right

A sincere apology may help appease an irate customer, but fixing the problem is the only way to win them over. Offer to make things right for the customer. Replace the broken product or give a refund for lost deliveries. You can also opt to provide discounts or freebies for future purchases. People make mistakes, but what is important is how we correct those errors.

Step Five: Do Not Get Emotional

As the business owner, you need to be the voice of reason. Customers are expected to complain, but business owners who get into an argument with their clients are seen in a bad light. Even if you know you are right, you need to be patient enough to clearly explain the logistics to the customer. Getting into a fight with them will not resolve the situation.

Step Six: Get Their Involvement

A negative comment is a great opportunity for learning and improvement. If a customer complains about a certain feature, ask him what changes need to be made to improve the product. Make them feel that their input is valuable. If you consider their suggestions, make sure to involve them during product testing or the product launch.

Step Seven: Make Sure the Discussion is Visible

It is tempting to keep the conversation offline, but providing solutions in plain sight will let the world know that you are serious about providing excellent service. You also make other people aware that you are constantly working on improving your products. If you provide a clear solution for a specific issue, there will be no need for other customers to send in similar complaints.

Unhappy customers will always be a part of your business. There will always be something to complain about. Dissatisfied customers tend to spread the word around so it is essential to change their mind about your company. Use the negative feedback to your advantage and turn a bad situation into a learning opportunity.

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Increase Customer Retention in an Economy Defined by Customer Attrition

October 22, 2012 |  by  |  Strategic Brand Management  |  No Comments

Perhaps it simply goes without saying that improving customer retention is critical to succeeding in an economy where customers are always looking for the cheapest available option. Unfortunately, it’s a sign of the times. Companies need to save money and sometimes the simplest solution is to award business to the lowest competitive bid. Customer attrition is commonplace in today’s markets, one marked by increased competition, lower demand for finished goods, fewer opportunities and even fewer customers to sell to. Your company doesn’t just need to retain more customers because it’s good for business; you need to retain more customers in order to stay in business.

So, what does it take to improve customer retention in this economy? What must your enterprise focus on so you can position it as the incumbent supplier? First, it’s important to understand that customers need to have a reason to stay with your business. Second, appealing to the lowest common denominator is no guarantee of success. Lowering prices to win business may work once or twice, but eventually you’ll lead your enterprise down the path of engaging in a never-ending price war, one where nobody wins and your company erodes its own gross profit margins. Third, your customers are looking for more than just a vendor. They are looking for a solutions provider, one who will distinguish their offering by bringing more to the table than its competition. Therefore, our plan to increase customer retention will focus on these three aforementioned critical areas. We’ll build customer loyalty, defend price and help your enterprise become a solutions provider.

1. Build Loyalty: Focus on increasing customer loyalty. Give your customers a reason to see your company as their only option. Give them a proposition that clearly distinguishes your company’s value.

2. Defend Price: Ignore the temptation to immediately drop pricing without having a solid reason to. Ultimately, the decision to drop prices should come from a position of power and our plan will help you secure that position with your customer base.

3. Become a Solutions Provider: Granted, this is often much easier said than done. However, every industry is defined by market leaders, ones who raise the bar by providing more than just a product. Our plan will allow your company to become that solutions provider, and it will ensure that your sales team has more time to spend working directly with customers.

What your company must focus on is a strategy that increases customer retention, protects your pricing and gross profit margins, all the while positioning your company as your customers’ most important vendor. Does all this sound impossible? Well, it isn’t. The approach that makes this all a reality is to come up with your own reward program, one that literally compensates your customers for loyalty, forces them to provide you with up-to-the-minute market data, and one that positions your company as the dominant solutions provider in your market.

Building Your Own Loyalty Schedule

The following table outlines how your company can come up with its own customer loyalty schedule. The loyalty schedule is based on the following premise: Your company agrees to provide your customer a discount for each unit they purchase on a monthly basis. In our example, that discount is £0.20 for each unit. Your customer must purchase a minimum monthly amount and continue to make that same monthly purchase for one calendar year in order to secure their discount. The more they purchase each month, the higher their discount. However, that discount is only given to your customer at the end of the year. The benefit of building a loyalty schedule is that it is not a contract and therefore, not binding. If your customer leaves the schedule, they lose their discount, and your enterprise has effectively protected its gross profit margins.

Month

Price

Quantity Purchased (Minimum Amount)

Loyalty Schedule Unit Discount

 Discount on Each Purchase Order

Accrued Discount

Jan

£20.00

25

£0.20

£5.00

£5.00

Feb

£20.00

25

£0.20

£5.00

£10.00

Mar

£20.00

25

£0.20

£5.00

£15.00

Apr

£20.00

25

£0.20

£5.00

£20.00

May

£20.00

25

£0.20

£5.00

£25.00

June

£19.50

25

£0.20

£5.00

£30.00

July

£19.50

25

£0.20

£5.00

£35.00

Aug

£19.50

25

£0.20

£5.00

£40.00

Sept

£19.50

25

£0.20

£5.00

£45.00

Oct

£19.00

25

£0.20

£5.00

£50.00

Nov

£19.00

25

£0.20

£5.00

£55.00

Dec

£19.00

25

£0.20

£5.00

£60.00

Looking at the table above, it’s important to understand what happens in the months of June and October. In both months, your customer hears of better pricing in the market. However, rather than just take those offers, your customer immediately reflects upon the loyalty schedule you’ve put in place for them. This is because of the discount they have built within the schedule. If you customer abandons the schedule in June, they will effectively lose out on their £30.00 discount. If they decide to stay within the schedule, but leave in October, then they’ll lose out on the £50.00 discount they’ve built up.  In this case, your customer becomes an active participant in their loyalty schedule.

Does Our Loyalty Schedule Address our Three Essential Criteria?

The overall goal was to accomplish the following. First, we wanted to increase customer loyalty. Second we wanted to protect or defend pricing. Third, we wanted to position the company as a solutions provider, one willing to bring new strategies to help the customer reduce their costs. Have we addressed all three criteria? We have. We have increased customer loyalty by giving customers a reason to return for more business. We have protected pricing by putting your company in the position of deciding whether to match the pricing within your market, or hold firm and keep the scheduled discount on your own. Finally, we have positioned your company as a solutions provider by increasing the amount of time your people spend working with customers. This allows your sales team to provide a number of other proactive solutions to help your customers.

Despite the current economic climate, your company can increase customer retention. It’s simply a matter of giving your customer a reason to buy into your company’s value proposition. Ultimately, it includes getting your customer on a loyalty schedule and helping them to build their discount over time. Gradually, that discount will put your company in a position of power, one it can use to decide whether to match lower pricing or hold price as is. Finally, the schedule itself is a proactive solution to reducing your customer’s costs. In addition, it increases the number of times your sales team speaks with customers, allowing your company to build upon its reward schedule with additional solutions.

Big Business – Gaining your Competitors’ Dissatisfied Customers

September 17, 2012 |  by  |  Strategic Brand Management  |  No Comments

Approximately 91% of dissatisfied customers do not wish to do business with the companies that have previously disappointed them. Out of this number, approximately 13% share their negative experiences with at least 20 other people through day-to-day conversations and social media. This makes a competitor’s dissatisfied customers a perfect target for increasing its own customer base.

It is much easier to get the attention of a consumer who is actively looking for alternatives. The need is already established and all it takes is for a new company to provide a better option in order to remediate a previously bad experience. Unhappy customers also act on emotion, they are usually distraught or aggravated and will be quick to switch when they see something better. While also usually being a great source of useful information, dissatisfied consumers provide feedback on what the market wants and values, importantly what your competitors are lacking. This is useful information when deciding how to approach a new marketing strategy, or what products a company should develop in the future.

Where to Look for Customers You Can Convert

An integral part of the ‘finding customers’ that can be converted strategy, is to make it easy for them to locate your company. Dissatisfied customers actively search for better options and alternatives. Businesses should invest in good online communication media, including a website that ranks well on search engines, for instance Google and Yahoo. The site should also be easy to navigate, filled with relevant content and information. Obviously you can also attract people’s attention by investing in more traditional media, such as local television commercials (budget permitting), or interesting print adverts, for instance featured reviews. Once you make your presence known through marketing mediums, your team can communicate the features and benefits of your product to your target market and competitors’ customers.

You should also be aware as regards to when and importantly where people post complaints about your competitors. For instance by checking online forums that cater to your niche market, even perhaps local groups that receive specific complaints related to your industry. This could also take the form of tapping into social media sites, by searching for specific mentions made by disgruntled customers about their personal experiences, when using a product similar to your product or service.

Further, brands could also visit locations of which their target market converges. Find these locations and be involved in events and activities that your target market participates in. Connect with competitors’ dissatisfied customers, in order to provide them with details on how your product can better satisfy their requirements. This is also a great way of getting ideas with regards to what a competitors weaknesses are, also what can be done to further enhance a current marketing approach.

The Art of Converting Customers

Marketing is all about convincing your potential customers that they need what you have to offer. Usually for the most part, it can be difficult to grab the attention of consumers that are bombarded with thousands of marketing communications per day. Dissatisfied customers however are far easier, they are already interested in the product or services that a company has to offer, and already know what they like and dislike.

Here are some steps to follow to successfully gain the loyalty of your competitor’s disgruntled customers:

1. Monitor

Devote some resources to monitoring competitors. This can take the form of checking on public sources such as Facebook, Twitter or blogs to get an idea of what competitors customers are complaining about. Observe how competitors deal with these complaints, to see how they can be improved upon. Use analytics and tools to identify main issues, focusing resources on how to provide better solutions to these problems.

Companies should also watch out for top influencers within their industry. Certain blogs, websites, or social networking sites actively influence a substantial chunk of a target markets’ consumers. These sites may deal with product reviews, customer satisfaction, or industry updates. Creating great relationships with these influencers can potentially provide sound business results, helping to convince customers that a new company can provide better solutions to their needs.

2. Improve

No matter how great a company thinks their product is, there is always room for improvement. Use the information gathered from monitoring competitors and work on making products or services better. If potential customers are unhappy with the customer service provided by competitors, attract them by training your front line support staff to provide not just better, but the best quality customer service available.

3. Close the Deal

Approach prospective customers in a positive manner, for example by not insulting competitors. Begin by discussing the most common product or service errors made within the industry and discuss what strategies or improvements that your company has made to avoid the same mistakes. The ideal result being the realisation that your companies product is a better option and it better meets their requirements. Build customer loyalty by emphasising what your company can do better, not simply by bad-mouthing competitors.

4. Deliver

Customers will always find something to complain about, but they can be contented, as long as a company deliver upon what was promised. Set the correct level of expectations by making goals clear from the start, “Under promise and over deliver” so that customers are not repeatedly disappointed.

Conclusion

Customers who have been disgruntled with previous providers, bring with them the potential for establishing a strong and lasting business relationship with a new company, make that company your own. It is important for brands to create a method of identifying where to find unfulfilled customers and how attract them in order for them to try out a better offer, make that your offer.

Process improvement should not be underestimated; companies should always be willing to invest in product upgrades that will meet customers’ expectations and needs. Deliver on what has been promised and only promise what can be delivered. Companies that are able to attract the dissatisfied customers of their competitors, will have a great opportunity to grow their own number of loyal customers, particularity more efficiently in comparison to those who target people who have not yet decided to use a product or service.

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