6 Hacks to Forge Strong Customer Relationships
In recent years business has undergone numerous changes as technology has forged ahead and given us new and exciting ways to innovate. These days, thanks largely to social media, faster internet connections and the rise of mobile devices, we don’t necessarily need huge amounts of cash to start and grow a business. Whilst once you would have needed a large investment to build and market a website, for example, now all you really need is a great landing page and to build enough of a social following to make a buzz.
It’s not quite that straightforward of course, there are plenty of tricks to help you to really hack growth and the start of this should be in developing excellent customer relationships. With that in mind, let’s have a look at some techniques and resources that will help you to grow and maintain a customer list that rocks!
#1: Social Media Service
Every business knows by now that social media offers a great way to connect with potential customers in order to market products and provide customer service. However, there are still plenty of businesses that don’t make the most of social platforms. As a minimum, every business should have a presence on the top social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, G+ and LinkedIn. I hear many people say that Facebook is no good for them, or that Twitter doesn’t work, or nobody uses G+ … etc., … etc. These are just excuses, social media works; it allows you to build a loyal following, to drive traffic to your site and to create excellent customer relationships.
It must be used correctly, however, or you risk your brand’s reputation. The rules for individual social media sites vary when it comes to what works, but as a general rule:
- Queries made through social media should be answered quickly
- Complaints should be addressed and not deleted
- Social media managers should have the ability and authority to make offers to disgruntled customers
- Humour should be used as it engages and often diffuses a situation when a customer is irate – however, care should be taken not to offend
- Language on social should be friendly and approachable
Social media offers a way to interact with customers in such a way that they feel valued and like a real person, rather than a faceless customer. Get it right and it can help you to build a community of customers who interact with you and others on your profiles.
- Hootsuite: use for scheduling social sharing but remember that when it comes to replies, there’s no substitute for personal.
- Social Mention: use to monitor how much of a buzz you’re creating on social.
#2: Website Chat Apps
In today’s connected world, we’re all often busy and likely to access online content on the go. This means that often, a customer expects to be able to contact a company and get an instant reply. Some businesses deal with this through social media, but increasingly, customers expect to be able to access customer service support through whatever channel they’re currently using. They don’t want to have to logon to social purely to ask a question about a product, or their delivery, or whatever. The answer to this lies in instant chat apps that can be integrated with your website.
Instant chat, especially if the rep has access to all of the relevant customer data, provides real-time support and boosts customer retention, as well as sales. Customers can have their questions answered quickly and efficiently without changing channels, which means that they are more likely to complete their purchase, rather than going somewhere else. This of course makes for a better customer relationship as they are satisfied whilst they are on the site.
- Userlike: what can we say, we’re good :)
#3: Landing Pages
Whatever business you’re in, a great landing page can make a huge amount of difference to your leads, conversions and customer retention. Taking a look at Dropbox, which is now a famous example of how growth hacking can be applied successfully, you can see that its landing page is very simple.
As you can see, the Dropbox landing page is very simple and what this does is immediately draw the eye to the CTAs which prompt action. This is just one of the hacks that the firm, which is now thought to be worth in the region of $10bn, applied when it was a humble start-up. The company spent very little in the way of advertising at the beginning and its minimalist home page drove 70,000 downloads just by adding a video tour to the page.
Video is of course hugely consumable and is worth considering if you have a product that you can showcase well. So, you could have a signup box, with a video tour of the product below and before you know it, this could be driving business that you’ve never dreamed of.
Remember too that a simple landing page with CTAs such as a sign up box (especially when coupled with social login) is a simple way to build your email list and you can also point to your social profiles. With the latter, you can go on to contact people with special offers which, especially if you can personalise them, help to cement good customer relations.
- Instapage: easy landing page builder.
#4: Offer Sharing Incentives
Another hack that worked very well for Dropbox is one that offers incentive for using the product. If you’re not familiar with the company, then it offers cloud-based storage which can be accessed from any computer. When you sign up, you get 2GB of storage for nothing and whilst you can upgrade and purchase more storage space, you also have the opportunity to invite friends and gain free storage.
This was a very clever idea as it allowed people to become really active customers who could also be described as brand ambassadors. Think about how easily such an incentive propagates – a lecturer tells their students about it at college, who in turn invite their friends and family so that they can share photos, etc. It’s the snowball effect and one that shot Dropbox into the stratosphere.
You can imagine too how people talked about it “oh it’s great, I never lose my photos and I can share them with my family in Australia” – you can’t buy that kind of recommendation, but you can prompt it. This makes for excellent customer relations too as they become more invested in the product and it’s in their interest to refer to friends.
In the mobile connected world we live in, we want to connect with brands no matter where we are and what we’re doing, which means that we have to be able to reach them no matter what device we’re accessing content on. That of course means that websites should be available for mobile, tablets and desktops if we want customers to connect with us in a meaningful way.
The answer to this for many businesses is a Responsive Web Design (RWD) site, as it adapts to fit any screen. RWD is the cheaper option when it comes to having a mobile site and is recommended by Google as the design choice for mobile. It’s also better for SEO, as it doesn’t depend on two URLs (a mobile URL and a desktop URL).
It’s useful too to ensure that there’s a call button on your site so that when someone’s accessing it through mobile, they have the ability to call you instantly. This is especially useful for local businesses as the customer has the ability to call when nearby to check that you have what they need, for example.
#6: Growth Hacker Marketing
Finally, because there are many ways in which a business can apply simple hacks to build great customer relationships, I’d like to alert you to growth hacking. Whilst many people dismiss the concept as nothing more than a current buzzword, growth hacking techniques do have some interesting and applicable ways to grow business and relationships with customers. As mentioned, Dropbox did this successfully, thanks to the man who’s now known as the godfather of growth hacking Sean Ellis, who was one of the founders.
The principles of growth hacking include:
- Creating a product that fits the market
- Getting the sales message out in different channels
- Using analytics to understand customer behavior so that the company can adapt
- Gathering feedback from users and customers
- Using social media to spread the word and find brand ambassadors
- Applying hacks such as the Dropbox landing page example as suggested by analytics data and feedback
- Repeat all of the above continuously so that you are always aware what the customer wants
It’s a big subject and one that you don’t have to study in detail in order to be able to apply it. Many of the hacks we’ve suggested in this article can be attributed to growth hacking and the main idea is that you grow your business and customer relationships without spending huge wads of cash. If you can’t afford it (or even if you can) there’s no need for a glitzy launch that runs into the 1000s, or for a huge AdWords spend, or anything in fact that costs a lot of money. The resources are all there for you and many of them are either free or cost next to nothing, except perhaps time.
Great customer relationships are built on the product and the experiences that you as a business serve. Create a buzz around your products using the tips listed above and before you know it, you could be the next company raking in as much as Dropbox.