As computers and the Internet have taken more important roles in the business world, those who came before have largely lamented the presence of technology. They will claim that it strives to remove the relationships between you and the customer and that it makes business even less personal than ever. I, however, argue that this is only because so many are not using these powerful tools correctly which is why 70% of all CRM projects fail.
There is no excuse for a web-based business to be considered cold and impersonal. Your business is living in an epic, border-less world economy where customers are not hindered by geography and time zones or even out of stock situations. Blogs such as this one, message boards and other forms of online communities including the proliferation of popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Squidoo and YouTube allow you to interact with customers from anywhere in the world at any time. Even when you aren’t there, your presence is felt thanks to your ‘hopefully’ interactive website providing the ability to communicate or obtain information as well as old posts and replies that help to sell your business even while you sleep.
More importantly, customers can interact freely on an online community. Unlike many conventional businesses, customers aren’t influenced by location and the odds of a potential customer and a previous customer ever crossing paths is quite slim. Your interactions with customers on your website are there for the world to see. When you are helpful and receive customer thanks and praise, visitors notice it. It is important to allow customers to post testimonials and you should be constantly asking for feedback on your products or services. Every time someone sees these interactions or gets responses directly from other customers, you’ve helped to win over new customers without having to spend a cent on advertising.
Another way to cultivate word of mouth is to make use of ‘customer get customer offers available to your current customers. The way these work is usually that for every new customer that someone brings in, he or she would then receive a discount or a share of the profits from that new customer. This sort of program could be applied to just about any goods or services delivered in an automated fashion and provide you with quality word of mouth advertising at minimal costs – especially since you don’t pay anything out until you’ve already turned a profit.