Keeping your customers satisfied in these economically hard times is the smartest investment of your time and efforts. As a small business, you are in a unique position–you can show you care. Larger businesses don’t have the one-to-one relationship you do. Now is the time to think about your customer’s needs and take the time to reconnect.
Four Keys to Connecting With Your Customers:
1. Send an email or pick up the phone. If you have clients you’ve known for years, now is the time to check on them. Don’t solicit new work. Ask if how they’re doing, and if they’re satisfied with your product or service. Take the time to listen. If they’ve recently been laid off, they might appreciate someone who lets them vent for a few minutes. This is about support and connection. Ask if there’s anything you can do to provide them better service. It’s much harder to let a service go if there’s a strong connection.
2. Redefine Your Focus. It’s time to get really good at what you’re good at. By that I mean, let go of what isn’t working. It’s time to streamline. Upgrade, update, and become relavant to the new market. What’s in? For some businesses, it’s all about going green. For other businesses, it’s on specializing. Find out what’s relevant for you.
3. Join forces. Partnerships just make sense. You have products, services, and business goals in common and complimentary to other businesses. You might find them in your own or nearby community, or you might find them online as you blog, do keyword searches, or on a forum. Get to know them and find out what’s working and where you can join forces. When forming a partnership, be clear. Know what you have to give, and what you expect in return. Start small and build. Trust is built one rung at a time.
4. Get active on the ‘Net. It’s time to shore up holes in the wall. You may not be booming with new customers, so when you’re not, use your time to finish your web pages, adding content, keywords and links to every page. Consider your next online step. Start with direct customer interaction. Consider an e-newsletter, or regular emails with coupons, discounts, and helpful how-to hints.
Yes, these are economically challenging times, but don’t lose heart. Many economic gurus believe that small businesses will come out on top when it’s all said and done. It requires a crazy mix of taking one day at a time and having a really solid game plan. Connecting with your customers might just be the determining factor–so be consistent, call or email. Be of help, and do all you can to keep your small businesses name on your customer’s mind for all the right reasons.