Thursday, October 11, 2007

Customer Talk Ode


Does Your Customer Talk Back To You?

What is your customer saying about you? Do you really know? Does your customer really know who you are?

If you don't know what your customer thinks about you, your business, your product and your services, then you might as well close shop!

A customer is the lifeblood of every business and you must always strive to be in tune with what your customer thinks and how they feel. Don't leave your customers unattended and in the dark. Invite feedback. Add a feedback form to your website or a simple "mailto:" link that looks something like this:
"Questions? Comments? Send email to info@m..."

People love to give their opinion especially if they decide that your product or services, which they have purchased, needs improvement. How will you know this if you don't provide a means to communicate with your customers?

A customer's independent review of your site or product carries far more weight than your own ravings about how great your site is. Sure you know that your products and services are great or you wouldn't be selling them, but you will be more convincing if you can get honest endorsements from people who have tried them.

Oh, what are you thinking now? Yeah, Yeah. I know. Yahoo! Has already given you special attention. Even Wired Magazine has profiled your entrepreneurial skills. That's all good! But Yahoo or Wired Magazine doesn't know anything about your business because they haven't actually tried your products or services.

People should endorse your business not because they think it looks good but because they know it is good. If they have problems with your products, they can be a great source of objective advice to you on how to make improvements and if you allow a customer to critique your product or services, they will be happy and proud to endorse it.

Satisfied customers are another great source of endorsement. Approach your customers for testimonials about your product or services. If you don't yet have satisfied customers, ask someone to use your product for free or offer your services for free, then ask for their comments. If they are satisfied with using your product or services, ask permission to use their comments on your site.

Make your site interactive for your customers. Give them a reason to return to your site and especially to tell others about your unique product and/or services.

Here are some suggestions:
- Provide a help number - give people a number to call if they have questions about their order or your site.
- Return an acknowledgement that you have received their payment or their email.
- Create a feedback form as previously mentioned.
- Create a "tell your friends about this site" form that enables visitors and customers to email information about your site, directly from your site to others telling them about how great your site is.
- Create a guest book and invite customers and visitors to sign it so you can know who visited your site and you will be also able to send follow up emails to them.
- Be sure your site has contact information or contact link - too many sites forget to include such important information.
- Be sure to have an "About Us" link that includes information about your business as well as a mission statement.

OK - Now you are saying you have all that!! Now What? Well, if you have done all that, you are on the right track but there are many more things that can be done to create awareness and a liaison between you and your customers. You have to be very creative and design new and unique ways that you can continue to interact with your customers.

One of the proven methods that have worked consistently for me is sharing my expertise, especially through this medium - writing articles. The article you are reading suggest that I have knowledge of certain topics and you can use this to enlighten your readers and gain their respect. Put a link on your site that lists all the articles that you write. This is a very good source that will provide "inside tips and goodies" to your customers that they wouldn't be able to get anywhere else and will also bring new customers to your site.

Another way is to provide a "Tips Corner" on your website or a discussion board that your customers can find helpful and valuable information. They will develop trust and respect for you and this will bring you success in no time.

Every business person wants to attract a wide range of customers and as an Online business owner, you have a greater advantage when it comes to how far your business reaches but it all depends on how the effect you have on your customers. The web can be a lonely place. Find ways to let your customers talk back to you.

Cheryline Lawson, Webmaster of Startbiz at http://internet-home-employment.net newsletter publisher of Homebiz4U and Freejobs4U.

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