How to best serve your customers ?

by Ashvini on May 27, 2014 · 5 comments

in Entrepreneurship,Managing Customers

There are so many channels that an entrepreneur can leverage to keep in contact with the customer. A few years back only options were telephone, snail mail or email. With the proliferation of social media, new avenues of customer engagement and interactions have come up. Social media is such a new channel.

Since this blog is mostly for small entrepreneurs who are often running on bootstrapped money, I believe I can keep a few details, like having a team to man the customer channels, out. If most of us (bootstrapping guys) had so much money to start with, we would have hired such a team alreadyclip_image001.

There are millions of websites which are NOT EBay, Amazon or Google. The owners of these sites have limited budget and they often do not have time to reach customers through all channels possible.

Social Media

Social media is an awesome channel to engage with your customers. However social media in my opinion may not work out best to address service related issues (this is about small entrepreneurs). Social media users are more impatient and expect an immediate answer to their problems. If you delay it too much because of any reason, they will be happy to forward their issue (which is already broadcast to your brand followers) to their friends, in which case it amplifies pretty much fast. Yes, there are positives about a good comment from a customer but it may not happen that much.ID-100256083

Forums

I have not used forums as a channel to engage customers. If the business is such that needs lot of discussion and problems have alternate solutions then a forum seems like a great idea. However there are additional costs like time spent moderating, logging in and answering questions. Also one may need a bigger number of members to make forum effective.

One company that I knew started email based support after deploying a forum for a long time.

My preference for small entrepreneur

I prefer email over most of the channels for support. It has a few advantages over other channels. With emails one gets enough time to read them and respond to them. One can give a well thought of response after providing an initial acknowledgement (which buys some additional time). If you have template response, you can instantly reply to customer with the response.

Email also may help create a personal bond between the customer and the entrepreneur and often may provide the right amount of attention that every entrepreneur craves.

The trick is to answer the questions honestly and offer advice/suggestions wherever possible.

The good thing about email is that it cannot go viral like a social media item, unless one decides to screw things up completely. That means the damage may be limited if responded well in time.

Being on email may mean that a customer might ask your opinion of matters outside of issue. However I don’t see it much of a problem, since customer trust you more and is looking for your advice.

It is very easy to monitor emails though. I have set it up on my phone and I get notification when I get them. That way I never have to worry about checking the inbox.

Choose the channel that works and stay consistent with it

There a number of channels that you can engage customer with. I have not covered them all. The important thing according to me is choose the channel that works best for your business. Be consistent on that channel and build up on the customer goodwill.

“Image courtesy of patpitchaya / FreeDigitalPhotos.net“.

 

About The Author

{ 5 comments }

Atinder July 31, 2014 at 11:49 am

Well, I prefer two methods to serve my customers, Social Media and Email. Both works fine for me, especially Social Media which enables me to know what my customers want.

Adrienne May 30, 2014 at 8:20 pm

Hey Ashvini,

I still read that email is the #1 form of communication still even though social media and texting is big now. I don’t think email will ever go away but to me it’s the more personal approach without blasting everything out to everyone and perhaps missing a question or such as a forum, people just spamming it constantly.

I still prefer email if we can’t talk on the phone or Skype but with my hearing the way it is, I just prefer email.

~Adrienne

Ashvini Kumar Saxena June 2, 2014 at 9:25 pm

Hi Adrienne,
I also believe in power of email. It is kind of private conversation between customer and you. My conversations with my customers have often led to better relationship. I am not in favor of forum. It needs quite a bit of moderation. If there are resources to manage that it is fine, otherwise email looks best option for small entrepreneurs.
Thanks for your thought Adrienne :).

Lori Gosselin May 28, 2014 at 3:05 am

Hi Ashvini!
I’m glad to hear about your recommendation for email as it’s what I’ve used from the beginning of Terra Cotta Pendants and it’s something I’m presently paying more attention to. I switched to MailChimp and I’m loving the many new options for my email and how beautiful and professional it now looks! I’ve been playing with templates and have even (thinking WAY ahead) prepared my Vacation Notice email ;-)
See you tomorrow at the Hangout!
Lori

Ashvini Kumar Saxena June 2, 2014 at 9:21 pm

Hi Lori,

I believe that email has worked out very well for me. I don’t have high volume queries and email serves the best purpose for me. In addition, email helps us build relationship.
Glad that you liked the idea and that you are using email to the maximum. Mailchimp looks awesome. I will check it out.
Hope you are having a great day :)

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: