17 September 2009

Spotlight Article    

Top Three Tips for Staying In Tune with Customers

With today’s fast pace and uncertain economy, staying in touch with customers and expanding your professional network can pay off through stronger relationships and leads on new opportunities.

By making an effort to engage both existing contacts and new ones on a regular basis you also differentiate yourself from competitors. Here are some tips to help you stay in tune with customers and support the ongoing success of your business.

1. Invest in technology that streamlines communication efforts and allows for anytime, anywhere connections.

Sometimes spending money helps you save and even earn more money in the long run. This is especially true of technology that supports mobile communications and online services like Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft Office Communications Server and Microsoft Office Live Meeting.

These tools can help you:

  • Quickly find the information you need
  • Communicate and collaborate with ease
  • Stay up to date, even when you’re out of the office
  • Be more responsive
  • Stay connected even in the event of an emergency

When your team can access and respond to all e-mail and phone communications whether in the field, stuck in traffic, or working from home your organisation works more efficiently and establishes a reputation for prompt service.

2. Interview customers regularly to learn what they really want.

A fast, inexpensive way to stay connected with customers (and ahead of competitors) is to simply ask customers what they want. The information you glean may surprise you, and you’re likely to accomplish three important goals:

  • Save time and money: When you develop, market, and implement applications and services your customers truly need, you reduce cost. Instead of wasting resources on marketing efforts that push things at customers, just offer what they truly want.
  • Become an industry leader: Reading industry magazines is important, but it can’t compare to the real-life data you can collect from your customers. Some of the most innovative ideas have come out of one-on-one conversations with customers. Your responsiveness to customer demand will only solidify your reputation as someone who pushes the envelope and gets things done.
  • Outsmart competitors: Keeping the pulse on what customers really want may seem obvious, but few companies actually do it with intention. A few hours of time interviewing your customers can give you insights your competitors can only dream about.

3. Boost customer retention rates with personalized service.

In every customer interaction whether in-person, by phone or e-mail work to establish a genuine rapport. Write marketing materials and business communications in first person. Address customers by name in e-mails, and refer to past purchases or communications you have had with them to establish a history.

By establishing a personal bond, you build trust with your customers. They’ll be more likely to come back to you the next time they need technology assistance.

In the end, your goal is to give existing customers a reason to stay with you and new ones a reason to give your company a try. If you have a reputation for initiating connection, staying in touch, and providing professional, personalized service, people will automatically see you as a good communicator, a reliable and consistent technology provider, and as a leader.