Creating Opportunities to Connect with Customers

“If you make a sale, you can make a living. If you make an investment of time and good service in a customer, you can make a fortune.”- Jim Rohn

The quote above conveys the essence of conducting business with a human face. Customers and their business, help to keep a company successful and therefore, the modern business enterprise needs to connect with customers. Such efforts can be conducted at many levels, but the primary aim remains the same: reading the mind of the customer and working to address his / her concerns. These activities can be accomplished in the course of conducting normal business as also through a variety of channels that we intend to discuss in the following passages.

Companies can use social media to connect with customers. Social media platforms have created deep inroads into society at all levels and so the business enterprise can profitably connect though these platforms. For instance, social media users can be polled to elicit popular reactions to a company’s products and services. This can be an effective lightning rod to gauge the true flavour of public reaction. Marketing campaigns can also be devised to connect with customers. Such campaigns can highlight the points of difference between the said company’s products and the wares offered by the competition. In addition, the social media-active company or enterprise can organize competitions on such platforms to create publicity for its products. We may say that a company can thus conduct a direct conversation with the customer through social media. The feedback can be priceless and may help set the tone and direction of future product launches initiated by the said company.

An enterprise that is serious about its products and its commercial fortunes should make efforts to cultivate customer loyalty. Such emotions can be cultivated assiduously by the corporate enterprise because these efforts can help it to connect with customers. Exceptional product quality can be said to be a cornerstone that can inspire customer loyalty. Listening to the customer’s point of view and making such efforts a routine part of conducting business is another pillar that can win unabashed customer loyalty. Further, an enterprise that invests significantly in incorporating feedback into its business habits can win the loyalty of its customers. Such loyalty can also help to expand the scope of business by attracting new customers. These efforts are important because the modern customer is an informed entity that is finely tuned to all the offerings available in the market. Retaining the customer and enhancing the customer base is critical to achieve business outcomes and therefore the company must exploit every chance to connect with customers.

The means to solicit customer feedback and support can vary from one industry to another. Consider this: a software product company can find an excellent way to connect with customers by hosting online forums. The primary objective of such activity is to gauge customer interest and feedback on the products they are using. The software maker can also encourage customers and potential customers to submit a ‘wish list’ that outlines the features and abilities that customer wants to see in future versions of the software product. The feedback harvested from such activities can be termed priceless because the company’s management can use this as a lodestone to guide future product development efforts.

Similar techniques to connect with customers can be built into the company’s website, wherein, an on-going dialogue may be established in the virtual world. The space to solicit feedback can be featured prominently in the website’s design so that customers can offer advice and feedback at the click of a button. Such gestures and mechanisms are important because they send a clear signal that the company is serious about what its customers are thinking. This also bodes well in terms of the corporate responsibility to stay abreast of public opinion as far as the company’s products and services are concerned. All stakeholders should ideally participate in such forums because their combined feedback can help the company to chart its future course of actions.

Annual meetings and quarterly result declarations offer significant scope in the real world for a company to connect with customers. Corporate management should make it a point to interact with all stakeholders in the course of such events because such meetings can help them to gain a first-hand impression of the thought processes that unravel in the minds of various customers. Tapping such founts of knowledge can help impart serious momentum to business plans and the desired business outcomes. Shareholder meetings can metamorphose from routine business gatherings to active interplays of the various lines of thought that power the modern corporate enterprise. Media interviews can also offer corporate chieftains a broad platform to connect with customers and share their thoughts on on-going business practices. Therefore, we may say that a variety of real world and online platforms can be harnessed to connect with all manner of stakeholders that populate the modern business environment.

Corporate road shows that tour multiple locations in the span of a few weeks can be used to connect with customers. The company’s management personnel can interact with customers and potential customers on a one to one basis and outline their plans for future business development. Investors of every hue can tune into such interactions and gain a first-hand experience of the thoughts and plans being pursued by corporate management. Interesting insights can be drawn and analyzed in the course of such road shows. The ambit of corporate influence can be widened when the road show travels to foreign lands in pursuit of greater profits. Brochures and prospectus documents can be given away to foreign audiences and such activity can help to expand the company’s operations to foreign markets. These situations can give rise to brand new opportunities for the company to connect with customers.

A company’s mission and vision statements can be refurbished and upgraded over a period of time to convey its intent to stay up to date with modern business ethos and practices. Such statements can be printed on the company website and on its official reports (annual and quarterly). These actions signal intent that the corporate entity is serious about its performance every day of the year, and sub-consciously affords the company an opportunity to connect with customers. Similar goals can be achieved when the company’s CEO or chairman chooses to send out special greetings to customers during major festivals. These occasions mark the social calendar and a custom greeting from a corporate house is one way to communicate a festive message and connect with customers. The message may imply that the customer is an important part of the business and the thoughtful gesture can send a targeted message.

We have discussed the various means that can be used by a company to connect with customers. These can be skilfully deployed to initiate a constructive dialogue with the customer. The various methods sketched in the preceding passages must be pursued thoughtfully and every outcome must be weighed before action is initiated. We need to bear in mind that such exercises need to be handled with care because any disruptions in ongoing dialogues can cast negative impressions on the business. Therefore, a corporate entity must pursue such actions keeping corporate interests and the public good in mind.

 

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