How to Boost Your Customer Loyalty & Community with Social Media

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By Kathi Kruse

There’s no deny­ing the influ­ence Social Media has had on how we com­mu­ni­cate.

With the ease of our com­mu­ni­ca­tion, cus­tomer loy­al­ty has become a hot top­ic. Although, it seems to some­times get lost in the dai­ly oper­a­tions of a busi­ness. Many busi­ness­es don’t focus on their cur­rent cus­tomer until the cus­tomer complains….or you’ve had a bad month. Then, your sales staff starts look­ing deep­er into the rela­tion­ships they have with cus­tomers and real­ize they don’t have much to fall back on. How­ev­er, it’s nev­er too late to start.

As the say­ing goes, “It’s a lot cheap­er to keep a cus­tomer than to acquire a new one.” The cap­i­tal you earn with your cus­tomer is in the appre­ci­a­tion and rela­tion­ship-build­ing. That hap­pens long before the pur­chase and in today’s open and con­nect­ed world, it’s a must-do if you want to com­pete.

Recent data from R.L. Polk & Co states that the longer an own­er keeps a vehi­cle, the more like­ly they are to replace it with a prod­uct from a com­pet­ing brand. Yikes, that is not good news!  The decline in loy­al­ty, though grad­ual with each pass­ing year, means that many automak­ers and deal­ers will need to work hard­er to retain cus­tomers.

Social Media allows you the plat­form, the tech­nol­o­gy, to pro­vide a home for that com­mu­ni­ty. It’s up to you to fos­ter it. At one time or anoth­er in our lives, we’ve all been part of an awe­some com­mu­ni­ty. Whether it was a base­ball team in high school, a soror­i­ty in col­lege, or maybe even just a reg­u­lar golf game. We crave that sense of con­nect­ed­ness and if your store can pro­vide a place to gath­er, boom, you win!

It starts with mak­ing the cul­tur­al and orga­ni­za­tion­al changes need­ed to estab­lish loy­al­ty as the cen­ter­piece to your long-term suc­cess. It’s not about view­ing the cus­tomer from a “how much mon­ey have they spent with us” men­tal­i­ty but from a holis­tic per­spec­tive cen­tered on “how well we align with the expe­ri­ence the cus­tomer val­ues and expects”.

Next, insti­tute ways in which you can attract your repeat cus­tomers to your online com­mu­ni­ty. Here are a few tips to get you start­ed:

• Noti­fy them in every way pos­si­ble.

• Active­ly search for and pro­vide ways to reward loy­al­ty.

• Get your staff on board and include them in your com­mu­ni­ty.

• Cre­ate a Face­book Page for an “Owner’s Club” and offer attrac­tive loy­al­ty dis­counts.

• Hold events like Ser­vice Clin­ics where your cus­tomer gets up close and per­son­al with their favorite tech­ni­cian. (Don’t for­get to take pic­tures and videos!)

• If you’re the own­er or GM (or any oth­er man­ag­er), spend time inter­act­ing with the group, it’s “exclu­sive”.

• Make peo­ple feel like they’re part of some­thing big­ger.

Social Media gives you a huge oppor­tu­ni­ty to retain cus­tomers and define the dif­fer­ence between you and the guy down the street. Take advan­tage of it now, before your com­peti­tor fig­ures out how to do it.

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