In the current market, the way in which you service and communicate to your clients is vital. What seemed like an appropriate level of service in the past is likely not going to meet expectations today. As a matter of fact, client demands and expectations are probably exponentially higher right now then they have been in many years. This may be in large part due to the current economic conditions, which is creating different perceived values from customers in addition to tightening of their budgets. This business challenge, clients expecting more for the same or even for less, is one that resonates across all industries and organizations alike. Whether you serve businesses or consumers, if you hail from a small company or a large — we all are looking, expecting and demanding more.
So how do you succeed in this marketplace when your own resources to serve clients have been impacted as well? In addition to some really creative thinking and out-of the-box ideas to implement, initiating a Social Media strategy is a good start. This will primarily help in two ways:
- SERVICE: Keeping the lines of communication open, free and easy for your clients
- COMMUNICATION: Allowing for more personalized "touches" or connections with clients
Since it's important to make sure you are always anticipating your clients' needs, a simple way to do that is to ask them. Providing an outlet where clients can express themselves or ask questions, can lead to new business ideas and fruitful dialogue.
This more informal method of communication tends to reveal great information that can be used for service improvements and enhancements. Along these lines are surveys and polls, which thanks to Social Media can now be done very easily online. A few of the Social Networks offer "polling" options, including: LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. Although not as sophisticated as a consumer research survey you would pay a lot for, these no-cost options allow for you to collect interesting data. If you have a LinkedIn account — take a look at Green Business Alliance's current poll, as an example: http://polls.linkedin.com/p/23859/bttfb
When you aren't asking your clients for feedback, then you should be listening to them. What are clients saying about you online — good or bad? There are a variety of tools to keep track of this, including Google Alerts. These alerts can update you via email, whenever a keyword you specify is used in a web update, blog or news posting. If you provide a service, then frequent visits to the more common review sites are in order. Check out Yelp or in the hospitality space, TripAdvisor, to see if your business is being reviewed and if so, what people are saying. Sometimes, using a client's past negative experience to make change, can allow for better future experiences by others.