This is the second column on this topic, because keeping your customers engaged is vital for ongoing business operation, especially as small businesses struggle to keep customers. during these pandemic times.
In my last column I gave four examples of ways to do this. I have several more to add to this list of ideas from SCORE folks and our content partners to keep the conversations with your customers going during and after the pandemic and keep the sales coming in.
Update your website content
Never underestimate the power of great website content to connect with customers. If you haven’t given your web copy an update in a while, or haven’t published any blog posts in recent months, now is the time to dive in. Give your customers something to connect with when they land on your website. When updating, focus on telling a story that’s engaging, on-brand, educational and entertaining.
Build the connection: Ask customers for feedback on your new content. They’ll appreciate you asking, and your website conversions may improve when you create copy based on what you know customers want to hear and see on your website.
Send out customer surveys
If you aren’t sure what your customers want, listen to them. Several theme parks, theaters, restaurants, and school systems sent out surveys during Covid-19 to understand the concerns of their customers.
They could then implement changes to ensure customers felt safe and comfortable when they returned after lockdown.
MORE FROM DEAN SWANSON:
- Keep in touch with customers online
- Plan now to restart your business
- Funding your business with personal loans and crowdfunding
Will your customers feel safe visiting your business? What steps do they expect your staff to take? Getting answers to these questions can help you plan for your re-opening and attracting as many customers as possible.
When sending surveys, consider the many platforms available to you, including Google Forms, SurveyMonkey, Typeform and Survey on Facebook.
You may also have polling features built into your CRM system. For example, Zoho offers Zoho surveys, which makes it easier to analyze the data alongside customer information.
Build the connection: Make calls to your top customers and clients instead of sending a survey. Show them that you care deeply about their insights and want to have a genuine and authentic conversation.
Offer giveaways and host contests
Host contests and giveaways to engage your customers. These can be immediate giveaways (i.e. a favorite product delivered in a contactless manner) or contests for events held once you re-open.
The key to driving engagement is offering something customers really want. To do so, consider your top-rated products, most popular dishes, or most-requested services — this will guide what you choose to give away.
Build the connection: Personally thank everyone who entered the contest (if possible) so you don’t end up being just another company they forget about after the contest is over. This is also a great chance to add extra value by sharing educational content or a smaller prize for simply entering.
Share your 'secret sauce'
Several food brands, from McDonald’s to IKEA, have released the secret recipes to their top items during the pandemic, allowing home-bound customers to try recreating the flavors for themselves. You can do the same by sharing what makes your food taste amazing, what your top products are made of, or how customers can recreate your brand experience at home. They will shop with you once the pandemic is over because really, the secret sauce to doing it well is you!
You can even spin this into a new product line or service offering. For example, perhaps you develop a DIY kit that customers can buy to make their favorite dishes at home. This leads to long-term revenue and gives your business something to offer that sets you apart.
Build the connection: Share your secret sauce from your own kitchen. Bring customers into your space, where you cook for your closest family and friends so it feels like a conversation between friends.
Answer questions from customers
Put customer care at the forefront of what you do by answering questions quickly and thoroughly when you can. Great customer service can be the difference between keeping a loyal patron and losing customers for life. In fact, Zendesk’s 2020 report found that 57 percent of customers say customer service is an important factor in customer loyalty.
Don’t forget to field questions on social media, in addition to through phone calls, contact forms and email. Unanswered questions on social media are public and can hurt you if other customers see that.
To make this easier, integrate your social media platforms with your customer support tool — most now allow you to do this easily—so you’re sure to see every message that comes in.
Build the connection: Get personal with customer service. If talking online, have the customer service representative sign the message with their name, i.e.: “Great question, you can find that resource here: Brian.” On calls, encourage employees to genuinely inquire about how the customer is doing and remind them to be open to sharing about their experience to deepen the relationship.
Dean Swanson is a volunteer Certified SCORE Mentor and former SCORE chapter chairman, district director and regional vice president for the North West Region.