4. Pick up the phone. "There's nothing more direct than picking up the phone to call a customer or client," states Gil Effron, cofounder, The Growth Team, a coaching and consulting firm. "Whether following up on a delivery, apologizing for something that went amiss, or wondering why you haven't received an order in a while, there's no better way to build or strengthen a relationship," he says. Moreover, "in a world saturated with one-way communication, the phone provides instant feedback."
5. Go visit. "In a recent study SAS sponsored we asked marketers 'What are your company's most effective channels for customer engagement both now and in three years?'" says Jonathan Moran, product marketing manager at SAS, which provides business analytics and business intelligence software. "The top response: 'face to face,' from 59 percent of respondents." That said, when visiting customers, it is critical to listen—and not walk in the door trying to sell them something.
6. Respond to email. "At our company, we make it our goal to respond to customer emails within five minutes, and the response we receive from our customers is usually something like 'Wow, that was fast' or 'Fastest response I've ever received. Thanks so much," says Giancarlo Massaro, the cofounder of ViralSweep, which provides businesses tools to create giveaways on their website. "How has this helped us? People love amazing customer service and in turn have been referring people to our service, all because of our customer service."
7. Send a personalized note or a postcard. "I love sending personalized cards by snail mail to let customers know I'm thinking of them," says Kathy DalPra, the owner of Bride Appeal Web Design & SEO.
"Physical mail is so uncommon these days, it's remembered," DalPra says. "When customers receive a card from me, they know I've put thought and time into it, which translates into feeling valued. And when customers feel valued, they buy and refer their friends."
8. Be active on Twitter and Facebook. "One of the best ways to connect with customers is through social media, such as Facebook and Twitter," says Ian Aronovich, cofounder and president, GovernmentAuctions.org, a site that compiles and provides information about government auctions of seized and surplus merchandise from all over the country.
"With social media, you can reach out to your customers at any moment rather than wait for customers to send you emails or phone calls with feedback," Aronovich says. Use your company's Facebook fan page or Twitter account to "engage your followers and keep conversations going. Social media can also be used as a form of customer service, where company representatives can directly answer customer questions and concerns," he says.
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