Published: April 22, 2014
“Customer satisfaction has long been the Holy Grail for companies. And today, social media brings a whole new significance to customer satisfaction. Rants and raves reach friends, and friends of friends, and friends of friends of friends at an unprecedented scale. It’s word-of-mouth on steroids.”
If you’re looking to influence customer loyalty, starting with your online community is the first and best place to start. The following are simple yet powerful business principles that will help you win relationships and earn repeat business. Also applicable to general business conduct, these three simple steps to maximize customer loyalty easily carry over to enhanced interactive experiences.
1. Keep your word. Your credibility is dependent on your ability to keep your promises. It’s important to be upfront with your customers. When it comes to managing a social community, make sure you’re there for your fans. There is nothing worse than spending time and money to build up a fan base and then letting them sit there unattended to. If you say you are there as a resource for questions, tips, tricks, and solutions related to your product or your service, be there. Don’t only post once a week or ignore fan posts. Simply put, do your best to over-deliver.
2. Be honest. Be truthful in every aspect of your business. Your credibility can be severely damaged if you intentionally lie, misstate or misrepresent yourself or your products and services. When it comes to community, think of it like this: as a brand you have a unique opportunity to join a network full of someone’s friends and family. If a customer invites you into that circle by becoming a fan or a follower, treat them like you would a friend. This means don’t overly spam their feeds with product or service related posts. This is not the time to sell; it’s the time to deepen company-customer relationships. Never share confidential information and betray someone’s trust. Instead, foster a reputation for honesty with customers.
3. Acknowledge mistakes and handle conflicts gracefully. Everyone makes mistakes. Generally, customers will be flexible if you quickly acknowledge the error, apologize and work to rectify the situation. Never try to cover up or ignore your or your company’s involvement in the problem. Don’t make excuses or blame others. Instead, take responsibility. Focus on the solution, learn from the mistake and move forward. This is especially true online, where things can spiral out of control quickly. Don’t fear making a mistake (it will happen) but have a plan in place so your company and community can bounce back quickly.
Small courtesies can lead to big sales. We live in a fast-paced, often impersonal era, but you can give yourself an advantage over your competitors with extraordinary service, especially when it comes to online customer loyalty.