Using Customer Influence to Drive Sales

“Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them.” – Kevin Stirtz

We have to acknowledge that customer influence can be a big multiplier for businesses. Every business thrives on sales and marketing tactics, but is also vulnerable to seasonality and business cycles. The art of customer service can be leveraged to use these customers as spokespersons for the business. The opinions held by regular customers can help to build a business to great heights, because these customers talk to family and friends. Such conversations can discuss the quality of products and services being offered by certain businesses to the effect that satisfied clients can bring customer influence to bear on prospective customers.

We might find it instructive to examine the role of human behaviour in this context. A customer that has been treated well by a business may choose to become an ambassador of the enterprise. He / she may relay his / her experience with the business and this could ignite a chain reaction of positive developments that result in higher profits for the said enterprise. The authenticity of the customer’s voice is likely to strike a chord with other customers. Such narratives also ring true because the customer in question can make comparisons to highlight the positive nature of his / her personal experience. This is another instance of customer influence working to generate positive publicity for a business. The outcomes may take time to develop, but the positive developments will surely accrue to the benefit of the business.

Social media can be a big enabler of commerce. The whole world is on social media, via one platform or the other. Such users are also customers of businesses, and therefore tend to talk about their experiences at various business establishments. This is a major avenue for customer influence because positive reviews can spur new customers towards certain businesses. Business establishments can enlist the help of customers in the form of soliciting testimonials on social media. A happy customer should have no problem in offering a positive testimonial, and this can be viewed as a prize by the business. Such glowing customer reviews can be authentic statements testifying to the genuine service proposition offered by a business.

All businesses are not created equal. Commercial considerations and long term plans may enable certain enterprises to drive a sharper customer focus than others. These establishments can try and highlight the contrast wherein their customer service methods outshine those of their rivals. This type of an approach to business can take advantage of customer influence at a different level. The customers of the businesses that are run more professionally can possibly influence other customers to avail the products and services of the said businesses. Such a strategy can yield incremental effects because customers have a natural tendency to gravitate towards service providers that offer the best service in town. It may also follow that such actions boost sales and turnover at the relevant business establishment.

Sophisticated customer services and intelligent business practices can also drive customer influence to benefit a business. A great business can be mindful of its commercial image and may therefore choose to offer consistent customer services to both past and present customers. Such actions include listening to what the customers want and respond to such requirements in a timely fashion. Paying attention t human requirements and customer preferences can help to fine tune business delivery mechanisms. Such actions can help to generate fantastic business reputations; these actions can also help the business to scale up with the help of customer influence in certain situations – for instance, when the business is introducing new product offerings and privileged customers are offered a preview of the same. Over the years, these practices may help to create loyal customers that refrain from dispersing their business to other sources.

Many observers have noted that customer influence can play a pivotal role when businesses seek to expand their operations overseas. Such manoeuvres are undertaken to expand the scope and depth of the business by operating in foreign territories. In such situations, the domestic customer base of the business can use customer influence to lift its commercial fortunes in foreign lands. Consider this: an Indian business that seeks to operate in distant lands may rightfully benefit from certain actions of its domestic customer base that influence the Indian Diaspora based in the said foreign lands. The outcomes of such action may provide a fillip to the said business and this may translate into higher sales and a shining performance.

Customer influence may also help a business to overcome inefficient marketing practices. This can be illustrated by the fact that all business practices are not perfect and may take time to bear fruit. The business may not be in a position to overcome the shortcomings in its practices and at times like these; a positive business outcome may spring from the influence cast in the market by business customers and consumers. The positive message may spread down the regular members of the company’s supplier groups and other parts of the value chain, and such transmission may help the enterprise to overcome certain immediate problems.

New product development can be the lifeblood of every business. Such activities help the company to stand out among its competitors and impart fresh momentum to sales. Marketing specialists in the company may choose to create privileged access strategies that allow select customers to preview the new products prior to their public release. This is another instance of wielding customer influence to gauge the market and to mould public opinion. Human nature dictates that customers tend to believe other customers; therefore, the positive view emanating from a few customers tends to have a multiplier effect. The widespread use of such practices tells us that these channels of conducting business are widely favoured in the commercial world.

Annual company meetings and conventions present a good opportunity for companies to inform and mould customer influence. The management cadre can interact with the various stakeholders and customers of the company in both formal and informal settings. These sites of interaction can be a rich source of inspiration and information for both the parties. Forthcoming actions and plans can be discussed to strengthen the company’s public relations and to reinforce its public image. The takeaways from such events can create a lot of goodwill, but the influence of the customer retains its paramount influence.

The scenarios, strategies, ways and means discussed in the passages above help us to gain an estimation of the importance of customer influence in modern business operations. Human interaction will always be of critical importance to a company, irrespective of geography. Businesses and enterprises can attain many important milestones if they pay attention to customer retention and customer service. Such actions can go a long way to ensure robust business operations. The best of the customer service practices can generate untold benefits for any business. The effects include more efficient business competition, better products and services, and the creation of exceptional value. These remain the cornerstones of the commercial world and every business would do well to pay close attention to these aspects.

 

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