The bottom line is this: you cannot understand how to move your business forward until you understand your customers. Here are some good ways your business can listen to customers more effectively, while at the same time creating a feeling of community among customers.
Host a user group
If it’s appropriate for your business, consider getting your customers together to talk about your product or service. Offer learning opportunities or helpful resources and encourage them to share ideas with each other. Encourage them to connect with each other and expand their own networks. Who knows, you might even get a great new idea from your group!
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Start an advisory board
When it comes to buying behaviors for your company, your customers are the experts. Invite your best customers to participate in an advisory board. Have regular meetings (quarterly is fine) where you run new ideas by them or get their feedback on previous concepts. Their input will usually surprise and revitalize you, and client rapport will be strengthened because you respected them enough to ask for it.
Create loyalty programs and rewards
Everybody wants to feel special. Your customers are special, so create exclusive programs and offers for your loyal customers. Maybe it’s a “frequent buyer” card with a free gift or product after a certain buying limit is reached, or new and unique content that no one else has access to. Segment your customers to find out who your repeat buyers are, and reward them.
Use social media
Too many times, the job of “customer service” is relegated to front-line staff – the call center team or salespeople. Social media can help get everyone in your business – executives, HR staff, and managers – on the “front line” with your customers, so that everyone can understand more clearly what it takes to serve customers well and meet their needs.
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These tools can also help you sell your business to prospective customers. When they see how much time and energy you spend creating customer communities, it reassures them that they will be well cared for when they choose to do business with you.