Those that live in small towns know the advantages of frequenting merchants who know their names and what they regularly purchase. These merchants, mostly small business owners, develop relationships and anticipate needs. Thus, customers often continue to frequent these establishments, even when strong competitors emerge. Starbucks adopted this approach in their retail outlets. They recognized that customers would buy high-priced coffees from baristas who knew their names, how they liked their lattes and who would have the right drink waiting for them upon their arrival.
Such is the power of value added services, relationship marketing and branding. Most of us are willing to pay a premium for it. Services tailored to our needs break through the clutter, relationships engender loyalty and strong brands provide us with assurances around quality and intangibles like status.
Social media and ability of enterprises of all sizes to have an on-line presence, has led to new ways for organizations to create customer intimacy, develop brands and foster loyalty. While one cannot replace face-to-face relationships, social media can create strong connections among people and vast amounts of on-line data can provide information that traditional merchants could only dream of. Here are 5 steps to replicate the advantages of the Main Street experience.
- Know Thy Customer – On-line loyalty programs can provide information about existing customers; including their preferences, their backgrounds and how they like to buy. Social media enables two-way communications and relationship building. Create a loyalty program, understand who your customers are and create a dialog with them.
- Use Analytics – Analytic tools provide insights into who buys what from whom, and in which combinations. Predictive tools enable targeting of customers likely to need specific products or services in the future. Analytics can provide great competitive advantage.
- Listen to Your Customers and the Market – What are people saying about your brand, your products and your competitors? What will they need in the future? Join on-line groups and use the free tools that Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other platforms provide to gain insights.
- Gather Customer Satisfaction Information – Were customers satisfied with your products and services and how they were delivered? Would they recommend your business to a friend? If you do not know these things, find out. And, be sure to check out what is being said about your business on Yelp or Angie’s list.
- Take Actions and Gather Feedback - Respond to what you learn by taking action. Don’t ignore customer concerns and don’t be afraid to experiment, take calculated risks and ask for feedback. You will quickly discover what works and what doesn’t.
What is your view? You can also contact me on-line on Twitter @digitalcultured, Facebook at Digital Culture Consulting and email at AndreaGoldberg@digitalcultureconsulting.com.