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Strategy

Your Customers are Trying to Tell You Something!

But are you listening? Customers today are voicing their opinions on an ever-growing number of channels. You better be ready to keep up with them, or they’ll find a company that is

Lauren Dowdle
May 17 2017

Customer feedback and retention are directly linked: Feedback tells you if the client is happy (or not) with your services and what you need to do to keep them a happy customer — and isn’t that the ultimate goal?

You must make sure you offer a variety of touchpoints so customers can choose how and where they want to interact with you — whether that’s through email, social media or an online survey. Which outlet is most popular will depend on your specific audience, but whatever they choose, make sure you’re there waiting for them.

Below are five technology types that can help you stay on top of your customer interactions.

Maximize Social Analytics

Social media channels are made for interacting: You just need to know what to do with all of those conversations.

Track (and respond to) all of your customer reviews, whether they are good or bad. You can actually have the biggest impact with negative reviews because it gives you a chance to learn what needs improvement and also craft a response that shows you care. As Bill Gates said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”

The social comments you receive can also help you gauge satisfaction levels and listen to the voice of the customer (VoC). You’re bound to get an uncensored response to what you post, giving you an inside look into what your customers really think.

There’s no lack of analytic sites to track your social interactions, so pick the one that best matches your preferences. Some of the top ones are Google Analytics, Buffer, BuzzSumo, HootSuite, and Simply Measured. You can also view analytics directly on some social media sites.

Get Personal with Surveys

Surveys can uncover a goldmine of customer insight, and people have shown they’re game for filling them out: 83 percent of consumers have completed at least one survey in the past 12 months.

Whether you send the survey to customers via email or place it directly on your site (think poll boxes like you see on news sites), there are things you can do to make them successful.

Start by asking the right questions: These should be clear and not take too much effort on the part of the customer to answer. For example, you can ask them what they like about your product, how you could improve it, and what they need help with. You don’t need coding or design skills to create professional surveys: There are plenty of sites to help you with that.

SurveyMonkey is probably one of the best-known online survey tools, but there are also several others worth checking out like GetFeedback, SurveyGizmo and Wufoo. All of the sites have different features, templates, interfaces and costs, so see which one best meets your needs.

Once you’ve collected the customer feedback, it’s time to put the responses to good use. Learn what you’re doing right and what needs improvement. The better you get to know them, the better you’ll be able to target and connect with them. Most survey solutions have a pretty solid analytics interface for you to be able to get a quick overview of the results.

Extend Use of CRM

You track and cultivate your leads throughout the sales process in your CRM. So, why should it be any different when they become customers?

Most CRMs have features that can help you interact and track your customer communications. One of the main options is through a customer portal. These can be added as a tab on your site or simply sent out as a link to customers.

Beyond being a place where they can view and pay invoices, this portal is also a great way for them to leave you comments or ask questions. Make sure their messages go to the right person, like an account manager.

Target Customers with Email

Emails aren’t just a marketing tool for leads.  They can also be the perfect way to interact with and market to customers.

You can use emails to touch base with customers you haven’t heard from in a while to see if they have any concerns or need help with anything. It not only shows that you care, but it can also give you valuable insight.

Segmented emails allow you to reach customers on a more personal level. Anytime you can show you know your customer is a win. Plus, these emails can help you ask for more targeted responses — maybe about a specific product they purchased or how they feel about a certain topic.

No matter the focus of the email, make sure to encourage them to reach out if they have any questions or concerns.

Provide 24/7 Support

We’ve all seen them: Chat boxes that pop up when you visit a site asking how it can help. From customer service to sales questions, this chat function can give your customers an immediate interaction — something they’ve come to expect in today’s fast-paced society.

And the trend to add this function is only going to grow to meet customer demand: 51 percent of people say businesses need to be available 24/7, and nearly half prefer sending a message over emails.

Depending on the size and needs of your team, you can have the messages go directly to a designated person — or have a bot answer basic questions and connect them to the right department.

There are a variety of chat options, including Bold Chat, Live Person, Livezilla, Zendesk, and Olark. You can customize the chat, like setting hours it’s available to match your own and inputting business-specific responses.

Some companies have come up with unique ways to implement the chat function, such as using it for new client onboarding and adding it to their Facebook page. It’s just another way to personalize your services and connect with customers.

Listen & Learn from Customer Feedback

You’re successfully interacting with customers online and the feedback keeps rolling in. Great! But, that’s only half of the job. The most important part of managing your interactions is what you do with that information.

Start by taking what you’ve learned and put that knowledge to work. For example, did you get a ton of interaction on a how-to post you wrote and shared on Facebook? Show customers you hear them loud and clear by creating more how-to content.

Or, has a recent survey uncovered that clients are unhappy with your mobile site’s usability? Let them know you’ve received their complaints, appreciate the feedback, and are working to improve their experience (and actually follow through with it).

Every customer interaction — whether good or bad — is an opportunity for you to connect with them and build a lasting r

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Lauren Dowdle

Lauren Dowdle is an award-winning writer and magazine editor based in Nashville, Tenn. Her nearly decade-long writing career has covered everything from landscaping to marketing — plus being interviewed by Jay Leno and winning a backhoe-operating contest. When she’s not behind the keyboard, you’ll find her spoiling her four furry babies and exploring the city with her husband.

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