Returning Customers – Elusive, Impossible, or Normal?

Returning Customers?

Returning Customers?

There’s always an emotional rush when you acquire new customers. They’re “taking a chance on you” and you have that all-important opportunity to make that first, and hopefully lasting, impression.

So THAT happens…..

So why don’t some first-time customers come back? This is a very important nut to crack for your business, especially since it’s always cheaper and more effective to nurture current customers than it is to have to always spend the resources needed to provide a steady stream of new customers instead. While there may be any number of reasons, four stand out:

  1. Early problems sour the relationship.
  2. You have no formal servicing system.
  3. There is communication breakdown with the decisions makers.
  4. It is easy for your customer to return to your competitor.

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What Do Your Customers Think?

Happy Customers

Happy Customers!

Got customers?

Then you are interested in what they think of you, since that will drive not only whether they purchase your product or service, but other things, too. Like:
  • What do think of your product  / service?
  • Will they buy again?
  • How will you know what they think unless they tell you?
  • What kind of review will they give you (on-line or off-line)?
  • What kind of influence will their experience have on how others think of you?

The basic ideas behind Customer Experience (or CX as it has come to be known) have been around for awhile. Think about when you walk into an office or a store of some kind. The initial impression of location, attractiveness, and the employees’ attitude towards you all contribute to the CX. It could be all over the place as to your experience, but that was, and is, a huge part of it In Real Life (IRL, for those of you who like acronyms…).

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“Help Me Fix It!”

Help Me

Help Me!

“Can you help me fix it?”

Almost all my initial conversations with customers are summed up in this one heart-felt plea. The long answer is usually, “Yes!”

That’s the long answer…the one that gets backed up by varying degrees of, “But first we need to….” Sometimes that slows down the enthusiasm a bit. They are happy to know that it can be fixed, but put off by the amount of work it will take, the time until the results they are looking for show up, the part of the process and collaboration in which they will need to invest, and the cost, whether it is time, hours of work, or money.

If it was simple and easy, not only would everyone else have done it (“I just want to be able to sell my products and make a really good living.“), but it would likely result in a pretty mediocre solution (“Well, we kind of fixed that problem, but I didn’t realize all the other inter-connected parts to the business and what we’re trying to do…so really, I’m not so sure we fixed much.“) that might actually harm the business.

Here’s an example:

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FOCUS: What About Customer Experience and Relationships?

Visitors Audience Customers Community

On the lookout for…?

“Relationships?! How do you do that when your business is all about selling boxes of widgets? Folks come to my site, order them and I ship them out…”

This is a common question. You have always viewed your company as one that makes something that others buy (hopefully more than once…), and then you make sure they get it. Pretty much the definition of “transactional”, and, especially if you operate an e-commerce site, you only know them by a name, address and order number. It doesn’t look like the opportunities to establish and grow a relationship, as you’re thinking of it, are that ripe.

…or are they?…

I’ve written before about a descriptive construct I call the VACC. It stands for Visitors/Audience/Customers/Community. There are different ways of looking at the people who interact with your business: The Customer Journey, the Sales Funnel, and so on. Viewing these people through the VACC lens focuses on the stage of the relationship they have with you business, and how you communicate and interact with them. Each stage is valuable and there is no hard line dividing them. Nonetheless, knowing, in greater depth, what each set of these people are looking for, how they act and react to you and your business, what their expectations are, and how you can communicate with them is vital to your business growth. Not knowing is the same as tossing your product out on to a virtual (or real…) sidewalk and hoping the right folks come by.

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Last Chance: Spotlight the Superior January Posts

 January is nearly over!

You have already done all your planning, strategizing and begun implementation for 2016….right?!

Here are my top recommendations for articles that will absolutely impact your business this year and help you make the best use of your resources.

2016 Social Media Trends

2016 Social Media Trends

Top Social Media Trends That’ll Change Your Business in 2016

Needless to say, the social media landscape shifts and evolves frequently and keeping track of what will work, what won’t work and what always works (if there is such a thing…) can be time consuming and maddening. That said, this article provides some keen insight into what to focus on in your social media marketing for 2016. For keeping track of all the changes and mutations, well……you should probably ask for some expert help.

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What is the Shrewd, Simple Zen of Customer Support?

Does anyone actually WANT to deal with customer support?

I mean, really……

When you hear the words “customer support,” what’s the first picture that springs to mind?
  • The dreaded support phone call. Sure, a lot of support is offered over the web, via email and social media, live chat and sometimes even on-site (although that’s usually an expensive option and a last resort…).
  • Something has gone quite wrong, you are no longer able to do what you want or need to do with some piece of equipment or service, and you are utterly STUCK (and losing time on that deadline) until it gets fixed or replaced.
  • As the owner, you feel totally responsible for what happens with your product and service, but you dread the call from the customer who is having problems. You feel like it reflects on not only the quality of your business, but on your personal efforts. Besides, it pops up, totally unwelcome, in the middle of your day when you have a LOT of other things already planned out….disruption-city!
  • Oh, and you (as owner) are scared to death that this problem will end up online, and in other word-of-mouth scenarios, and give your business a black eye….
Yikes….

So how do you work through this? Rise above this and, as a friend of mine says, “Zen it!”

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