External communication is comprised of not only reaching out to consumers, but also listening to them. In fact, taking the time to listen to customer requests and inquiries can mean spending less time, energy, and resources on acquiring new business. Building a strong rapport with the customers you have will enhance your reputation and bring in new customers based on the word of current customers.
The best way to do this is by showing your appreciation. Relationships are about equity - it's important both parties feel they are gaining something that is equitable to what they are giving. Sure, customers pay for your product or service and that alone is an exchange, but customers need to feel confident they can rely on your business. You can make your customers feel valued in four simple ways.
- Be accessible. Do your customers know how they can reach you should a problem with the product or service arise? Social Media and email are great facilitators for consumer to business communication. Make sure customers know how and where to reach you, prominently display your contact information online and in your marketing materials.
- Respond in a timely manner. "Timely manner" is often left up to interpretation. You as a business owner may feel 24 hours is a reasonable amount of time to reply to a customer whereas the customer may feel an immediate response is the only course of action reasonable. Let customers know when your hours of operations are and when they can expect a reply on their inquiry. This helps manage expectations and holds your business to a standard.
- Follow up with a thank you email. Thank you notes are a great and lasting way to show your appreciation. More and more consumers are taking their business elsewhere because they feel undervalued. Letting the customer know you understand that they have a choice and they chose you can go a long way.
- Encourage feedback. Feedback provides businesses with a leg up on the competition. A history of good service is important in today's marketplace when customers have countless options to choose from. A positive history also shows a healthy interaction with clients. Even with some instances of poor feedback in the mix, it shows your business is willing to stand behind the product or service and address or correct what's imperfect.
Keep the lines of communication open with your customer base. Encourage customer reviews on your business' BBB Business Review. Not an Accredited Business, yet? Learn how-to become part of the elite group of trustworthy businesses.