A recent article in USA Today, got me thinking about customer privacy and how to build a mutually beneficial relationship whilst also carefully respecting it.
The article (read here) mentioned that more and more consumers are blocking the cookies and tracking systems that come with so many websites today. They don’t want to be automatically segmented and followed as they go about the web, viewing different sites.
Companies who are truly customer centric know that it is important to build a mutually beneficial relationship where there is something for both parties in exchanging information and services. Too many businesses ask too much of their customers with little if any advantage in return for the customer. I believe this is one of the major reasons that consumers today are becoming sensitive to what and to whom they give any information about their interests, habits, needs and wishes.
I, therefore, thought it was useful to review the major points to keep in mind, when a business wants to collect information about its customers in order to offer products and services that better meet their wants and desires.
Ask Permission to Gather Information
Whether you are connecting with your customers by mail, the phone, through email or over the web, you need to first request permission to ask the questions and to gather the information you are looking for. Not only should you ask for permission, but if you are not in direct personal contact, but connecting via email or the web, you should also double-check that permission has been given by your customer and that they are still in agreement to provide information.
Being attentive to privacy when starting to build a relationship with your customers is vital and shows your respect for them. It also means asking them to confirm their agreement not once, but twice. Double opt-in as it is known, ensures that your customer is correctly identified and that they have indeed themselves requested to provide or receive information or to be put on your mailing list.
When your customer has agreed to provide information you need to thank them in return immediately. This can be as simple as offering coupons for your products, some valuable information not easily available elsewhere, a free guide or e-book on a relevant topic, or special privileges.
Another thing to keep in mind is not to overwhelm them by asking everything in one go. As your objective should be to build a relationship with them over the long-term, you can complete the information you require through several contacts with the same customer. This also has the added advantage of keeping the conversation more frequent than it might otherwise have been.
Make them Feel Special
More and more CPG companies and br ands now offer a club membership, especially to their higher-value consumers, which provides more targeted privileges and even gives the opportunity to preview new communication or product concepts.
This is probably one of the more intimate and bigger win-win relationships that can be developed with your customer, but it does take a dedicated team within the company to manage such a club, as these customers are naturally the most dem anding for services and constant information updates.
For more ideas about connecting with your customers, as well as improving your customer centricity, why not join the FREE Customer Centricity Champions Webinar? It shares many tips, tools and templates to catalyse your business and immediately improve your customer underst anding.
Keep the Relationship Fresh
Once you start building the relationship with your customers, you must continue to interest them by offering news, information, photos, videos or articles of interest. This can be quite a strain on internal resources, so you may want to (also) consider including customer generated content.
Not only does this ensure continuously updated content, but also involves the customer in what is shown, so that it remains relevant and of interest to them. People love to post and comment, so include message boards, tip sharing platforms or photo albums, whatever is relevant to your targeted customers.
Ask their Advice Frequently
For your customers to appreciate how much you value them and their business, involve them in it, by asking for feedback on how you are doing. If you have new ideas or plans, share details with them or enable them to vote for new flavors, concepts or advertising ideas.
You can also enable them to preview the ads or products before everyone else, but do make sure you provide them with some great information about it too, so that they can share it with their friends and family members. This will make them feel like the special and valued customer they are, and also enable them to talk about this to their acquaintances.
Always Offer a Simple Way Out
Once you have made the connection with your customers, recognize that they might change their minds at any time and want to unsubscribe from your club or mailing list. Make this as quick and simple a process as possible. This shows respect for your customer and their time, and also enables them to leave with a positive opinion of you and the br and. You never know, they might change their minds and stay after all, or come back again in the near future.
With so much choice available to customers today, it is your responsibility to build an engaging and respectful relationship with them. If there is no trust, there may soon be no sales!
What other ways do you show respect for your own customers? Please share your best examples here.
For more ideas on connecting with your customers, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/