The current economy has created a new trend for consumers to move away from big brands and spend money with local businesses. People may have less money in their pocket but when they do spend it they think more carefully about who they spend it with. This was highlighted by the recent retail sale figures which showed a marginal increase in retail sales. The experts were surprised by this as some of the big brands had just announced lower sales figures. However when the retail sales were looked at in detail it showed that it was local retailers who had benefited. A retail expert on Radio Scotland suggested this was because people are now using their cars and are walking to the shops. This may well be true but it is also the case that people do want to buy from local businesses. This applies not just to retail but also to any local business from tourism to a professional service company. Good news for your business?
This offers local businesses a huge opportunity. However yes you are right there is a BUT coming. The BUT is it is only a great opportunity for you if you make the most of it. Sitting back and waiting for all these local customers to come through your doors is not an option. Quite simply if you don’t give them a reason to do business with you they won’t. This means that you need to communicate with your existing customers on an ongoing basis as well as making sure that you are visible in your market place so that you attract new customers.
Effective and targeted marketing will get existing and new customers to engage with your business. However that is not the end game. You don’t just need customers to engage with you you wnat them to buy from you.
So in this blog I am asking you 5 key questions and giving you 5 key tips on how to make sure that you not only get enquiries but that you convert them into loyal customers.
1. Do you answer the telephone ? This may sound ridiculously simple but over the years I could not tell you how many businesses I have come across who carry out some marketing activity and then fail to realise that this may generate interest and result in phone calls from interested potential customers. And when the potential customer makes the phone call, the business is not there to answer the phone and the enquiry is lost giving a poor impression of the business and first impressions like this do count for so much in the decision process.
I would recommend you make sure that someone is always there to answer the call quickly and that someone is always kept up to date with the latest marketing communications that you are doing. There is nothing worse than offering a special offer and a customer calls and the person at the other end is unaware of the offer.
If you are a small business and are unable to answer the phone divert it to your mobile phone or make sure that you have an answering machine and that you make sure that you call back as soon as you are able to.
Key points in converting telephone call enquiries are efficient, quick and friendly answering of the phone and the customer immediately speaking to someone who offers great customer service and is aware of all of the marketing communications who is able to convert that enquiry into business.
2. How quickly do you answer emails and update your website ? Just like the telephone, one of the first things that people do if they have had a marketing communication from you is to email you. We live in 24/7 society and people do expect an immediate response to everything that they do. So with emails you need to respond to them as soon as you can and within 12 hours if possible. If not you could lose the sale as they might not just be emailing your company with the enquiry but also your competitors and from experience the first one to respond is the one that has a better chance of making the sale.
Your website needs to be up to date as well. Your business is not what you say it is it is what Google says you are. Your marketing message will generate interest and the first thing many people then do is Google your business and go to your website. If your website is not up to date, has old news and out of date events it doesn’t matter how good your marketing communication was you are giving the impression that you don’t care enough to keep this important tool up to date.
I would advise you to update your website on a regular basis even if it’s just the news section and make sure that if you are offering a special offer that you have that displayed on your website.
3. Are you market savvy ? The market place just now is changing all the time. You need to be aware of the changes and keep up to date. So listen to the news, read the papers and keep up to date with the sector that you are in. Network with people in your sector as well as making sure that you are part of the all important local business network. This will allow you to be fully aware of what is happening in the economy in general, in your local sector and in your local area.
You then need to react to this by making sure that your business is up to date to take advantage of these situations whether they are positive or negative. If they are positive communicate with your customers and make sure they know about the latest news from your business. And if they are negative? Do exactly the same, communicate with your customers and stand out from the crowd and make sure that they buy from you, the same rule applies. Being aware of the market is crucial and should be used alongside regular evaluation of your sales so that you can see when your business is likely to be busy and when it will be quieter so that you can plan a special marketing promotion to attract customers in the quieter periods.
4. How good an experience do you offer ? People want not just to purchase they want an experience and all businesses deliver that. This can be a great experience, a mediocre experience or a poor experience. Most businesses if we are honest offer a mediocre experience, a few unfortunately offer a poor experience but how many actually offer a great experience? Very few and they always stand out from the crowd and benefit from loyal customers who do the best marketing in the world – they sell the business for them in word of mouth referrals.
I would recommend that you think about the experience that you offer customers from the first point of contact with your business all the way through to the sale and the experience they have of your product to the after sales experience they have. What parts of the experience do you do well? What areas could be improved and what areas really need attention. If you look at this on a regular basis you will be able to make sure that your business stands out as one offering great experiences.
5. Do you offer great Customer Service ? This is the most important point, at the end of the day people don’t buy and continue to buy from a company because they have great marketing materials. People buy or don’t buy because they like the people in a company. Put simply people like people and they either want to buy from you as they like you and they like the team you work with or they don’t.
I would urge you to offer great customer service by making sure that your customers are at the centre of what you do and that your team know that their role in the organisation is to serve the customer. This should be done on a daily basis and you need to make sure that you evaluate that on an ongoing basis. Mystery shopping is a good way of doing this, get people to evaluate your service and be honest with you. In addition make sure that you go to other businesses and do the same evaluate their customer service and then think if you offer the same great service as they do or do you make the same mistakes as they do and learn from others.
Customer service is crucial to the success of any business so make sure that in your business the customer is central to all that you do.
You want to make sure that your business stands out from the crowd and that once you do get noticed you convert enquiries into real business and create great experiences for your customers too.
For more information on how we can get you noticed contact Fiona Drane by email firstname.lastname@example.org