Putting the customer at the center of everything you do pays big dividends for companies today. The world is so connected and customers have so much more control. This has triggered a move towards a customer-centric approach to not only marketing, but your entire company culture. And to make customer-centric marketing work for you, you need to know what your customers want and be able to develop strong connections to them.
With that in mind, I asked everyone in the office to help compile this list. Without further ado, here are 24 ways you can better connect with your customers:
- Respond on social media. Customers today use social media to get answers and the expect them quickly. This is a good tool for you to start conversations and deepen customer loyalty.
- Use your data. With all the data available today, you can figure out exactly what your customer wants and where they like to be contacted. Use this to create one-t0-one communications.
- Customer loyalty programs. Not only do they keep your customers happy and coming back, many programs are a way to track additional data on what you customer is doing, when they do it, how often and what motivates them. All good information you can use to deepen your connections.
- In-store events. Creating a special event in your store brings your customers in for something fun and unusual. It’s also a chance to interact with them and get a feel for what they want.
- Tap into your customer’s lifestyle. Silk does this well by using DJ Khaled, wild music and a Snapchat format in their latest campaign, tying into their customer’s entertainment and social media habits to make a connection.
- Survey your customers. This allows you to find out exactly what they are thinking and what they want. You can do a full-blown research firm engagement or a simple Survey Monkey questionnaire you design yourself.
- Use you blog. It’s a way to create an on-going flow of information to your customers. And if you engage them enough with quality content, they will respond to your posts.
- Work the cash register. If you are not in a customer-facing position, go out and interact with them at one of the main customer touchpoints, like the cash register or customer service. Talking to them will give you great insights.
- Create Newsletters. Some customers won’t read your blog or go to your social sites, but they may be interested in signing up to a relevant newsletter. This gives you an opportunity to provide quality content, company news and get feedback.
- Monitor review sites and respond. Studies show that customers trust reviews from strangers on review sites as much as recommendations from friends and family. Read your reviews on Yelp, Foursquare, TripAdvisor or industry specific review sites. And when possible, respond to them – particularly if it’s a bad situation that you can rectify. But just saying “thanks, glad you enjoyed it” is good too.
- Use targeted emails. Send people emails about parts of your business they’d be interested in or offers that would best connect with them.
- Respond to emails. When a customer takes the time to email you with a question, complaint or complement – take the opportunity to make a deeper connection by responding personally and quickly.
- Make sure your customer service is top notch. This is where connections can be strengthened or lost forever. It’s all in how well you treat them and are able to respond.
- Keep them in the loop. Make your customers feel special, like insiders. If you have a big announcement coming up or are changing things or even if it’s advance notice of a great offer or new location, let them know.
- Join forces with another related company. It’s not uncommon for two companies to team up and offer something special to their combined customer base. This gives each group of customers another reason to be connected to you, while opening up connections to the other company’s customer base.
- Use a CRM system. It’s hard to keep track of all your customers, what they like and when you last connected. That’s why it’s important to put a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system in place. It is an automated way to make keep track of everything.
- Occasionally surprise someone by going above and beyond expectations. Take the opportunity to completely amaze one customer every once in a while by going above and beyond expectations. Zappos has become masters at this and has developed deep connections with their customers because of it.
- Offer a surprise upgrade. This is another technique Zappos does very well – often surprising customers by upgrading them to free next day shipping. Where can you upgrade your customers?
- Send them a personal note. Some furniture stores are really good at this, having the salesperson send a personal, hand-written note to the customer after the sale.
- Offer live chat on your website. Today’s customers are far more likely to have a conversation online than go through all the hassles of getting through a phone system.
- Be a good corporate citizen. Taking part in your community and showing you support causes your customers care about go a long way towards making a good and lasting connection.
- Own up to your mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. Customers will forgive you and like you even more if you just admit when you are wrong, say you’re sorry and do your best to make amends.
- Easy access to information. Customers have a lot of choices and want information to make good decisions. The easier you make if for them to find the information they need, the more they will feel a connection to you.
- Listen and respond. Your customers will tell you what they want. Listen to them and respond when you can. McDonald’s listened to customers and is offering more healthy choices. Facebook listened to customers and expanded their safety feature so you can find out if a loved one is okay when a disaster in their area happens. What are your customers asking for?
These are just a few ways to make stronger connections and make customer-centric marketing work for your company. Feel free to add some of your own. And if you're interested in learning more about customer-centric marketing, check out these posts on how to create a customer-centric marketing strategy using your database, how to use your customer centric marketing strategy to find what your customers want and how you can increase your customer's lifetime value using customer-centric marketing.