Running a business can sometimes be scary work. You must keep up with all kinds of changes to industry, products, new services, social media, website updates, and most importantly, take care of customers. Without customers, your business wouldn’t exist.
In recent years, there’s been a rise in the term “ghosting”. In this case, it’s not referring to the sheet-draped children trick-or-treating at your house on Halloween. The modern term “ghosting” refers to a practice of seemingly just disappearing. Ghosting is known mostly in the forum of online connections. But it’s becoming more of a common occurrence in a variety of places in life. In a business sense, it means losing that touch point with a customer after their experience ends.
Fortunately, there are ways to stay in contact with them even after the experience with your business is done. You can stay top of mind and avoid the ghosting phenomenon to bring in more traffic to your business.
Collect customer information at the point of sale.
How many times have you gotten to a register and the person behind the counter asks for your email? It’s becoming a common practice, simply because it works. Most consumers are happy to share their email, and it only takes a couple extra seconds to type into the system. Email marketing is a growing tactic that gets a message across. It’s an easy way to connect with your most loyal customers because they’ve already made a purchase. They want to know that a company appreciates their business; email marketing with special offers is a good way to do that.
Asking for a phone number is another easy way to stay in touch once a customer leaves the store. Text marketing is also an increasingly popular way to talk to your customers directly. It’s a good way to ask about their experience, and send reminders of upcoming deals and promotions.
Collecting information at the point of sale is a good way to keep the conversation going after the customer leaves, and is a good way to check in and see if there’s anything you can do to improve the experience overall.
Look for new ways to extend the consumer dialogue post-purchase.
If you can enrich or improve a customer’s life based on their experience with your product, their loyalty will grow and they’re more likely come back for more. In today’s world, people seek out experiences as they shop. And those businesses that provide memorable experiences will be remembered. Good customer experiences in-store mean a customer is more likely to engage with a brand on social media or recommend your business to a friend or leave a review online.
Once a customer experience is over, business owners often believe that there’s nothing more that can be done to improve that experience. However, it’s important to embrace outside-the-box opportunities. For the customer, the point of sale is just the beginning. The experience continues while using the product or service.
If your business fixed their air conditioner, the overall experience with your company will be influenced by how well the air conditioner continues to work and they don’t have to bring a service person out again. Or if they bought a new kind of lip balm using locally sourced essential oils from your store, their experience will be based on how well that product works for their needs.
Small business owners need to monitor and respond to comments on social media channels, website feedback, reviews, and other forms of communication that a customer might use to show how much they loved or disapproved of a product, depending on how experience continues after leaving the store.
Customer loyalty programs
Harvard Business Review published a study saying that it costs a business about 5-25 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to sell to an existing one. That’s why customer loyalty is so important and why it’s crucial to keep the customers you have. Existing customers are also much more likely to spend more money than new customers. Many small businesses turn to customer loyalty programs for these reasons, and these kinds of programs often pay for themselves.
Customer loyalty programs can be as simple as offering exclusive discounts to email subscribers. Or it can be more in-depth with programs like a points program to earn rewards, charging an upfront fee for VIP benefits, using a tier system to reward loyalty and encourage more purchases, or making a game out of repeatedly visiting the store or using your services.
There are dozens of different kinds of customer loyalty programs and ways to implement these programs. But it all has to start with an initial positive customer experience from the beginning so that people want to be loyal to the brand.
Offer help through post-purchase conversations
Smart branding is becoming more and more commonplace with marketers placing near field communication (NFC) on packaging. Consumers can tap, scan, or type in the code and can begin a one-on-one conversation with the brand in regards to a certain product. These types of post-purchase conversations help drive brand loyalty. A 2014 NewsCred research poll found that 62% of millennials believe online content drives their loyalty to a brand. And that number increases every year.
Another good way to begin post purchase conversations is through offering help and troubleshooting any product issues that might come up. That can be in the form of video tutorials or easy-to-access instructions on your website. But it goes beyond fixing issues–these types of interactions with customers can drive customer loyalty. For example, for a beauty product you can show an educational video on how to best use the product. For an HVAC company you can show how to easily change your filter. These types of videos show expertise in your field. They also will drive people to come back more and more often because of the value your brand provides.
Ask for feedback and reviews
Asking a customer at the point of sale to leave a review if they enjoyed their experience is very simple. Leaving a review is a step many consumers don’t think about unless they have a negative experience. But an often-neglected tool of growing a business is just asking if there’s anything you can do to improve the experience or a customer would be willing to tell others about their experience.
Online reviews through Google and other review sites is a growing form of recommendation. In the long run, it doesn’t matter what you say about your business, it’s what your customers say about it. Customers drive the narrative in online forums. Asking for a review just takes a couple seconds, but it can make a world of difference in an increasingly digital world where people rely on online engagement to help them make their purchasing decisions.
It’s very possible not to ghost your customers long after they leave an experience with your company. It’s possible for small businesses to accomplish big-brand marketing outcomes and customer engagement without breaking the bank. It starts with good products, a good experience, and continued presence after customers leave the store.