One of the biggest developments of the late 20th century and the new cornerstone of a successful business is how a company listens to its customers. Consider the standard sales pitch, where you are sold anything from a paper towel to a five-star holiday resort, or a bicycle to a penthouse overlooking the Champs Elysee. Sales are about getting the product sold to the client at any profitable cost. As such, it is apparent that there are all kinds of psychobabble marketing and PR efforts that actually work, and the most swept salespeople will sell ice making machines to Eskimo’s.
However, once the sale has been made, you want to sell more, and this is where the customer’s feedback can hit or kiss you. Unlike the 20th century when the internet only began towards the end, customer feedback was not so efficient or effective since it was not well communicated to the masses. The age of the internet has changed all this, and now, every bad experience is noted, commented and posted online in multiple places. Essentially, people now buy based on customer satisfaction more than sales and marketing.
This onslaught of customer satisfaction is even more important now that there are literally hundreds of suppliers of the same product and you need to know which supplier sells you the better product, gives you the best technical support and listens to their customers.
Here is a classic example of a company that has evolved over a century of existence, and unlike many old companies that hit the internet brick wall and collapsed, of which there are many. This company learned to adapt to the new technology since their entire operation was customer experience based and not sales based.
Walgreens, the large pharmaceutical company, started out in 1901 as a local pharmacist and photo supplies store in Chicago, the old Chicago of black and white movies, gangsters and prohibition. It was the age of prohibition in the ’20s that propelled Walgreens from a single store to a chain, which is now the largest drugstore chain in the USA with over 8,000 brick and mortar stores as well as a large online presence. One of the crafty methods that Walgreens used to circumvent prohibition was to sell whiskey as a prescription drug from under the counter. This was a clever and inventive way of listening to customers’ needs and supplying them with a legal solution. This is the classic example of how sales and customer service work hand in hand, and how the era of the internet actually came to save Wallgreens.
The internet gave Wallgreens the chance to show how a good client relationship will expand a business when everyone else is failing. The age of the internet saw the fast and steady decline of brick and mortar stores, being replaced by online stores such as Amazon and Alibaba. Wallgreens understood that they had the infrastructure as well as the client base to expand and not contract.
Using this, they opened up a powerful online e-commerce website as well as their walgreenslistens website, which is a customer dedicated website for listening to customers’ needs and being in contact as well as providing solutions which are all transparent for everyone to see.
Walgreenslistens is the anti-thesis to current e-commerce sites that ignore customers, make it virtually impossible to contact the company and leads to extreme frustration. Where 90% of the large companies do not provide ample customer service and rely on the mass of dedicated buyers to continue purchasing online, the smaller businesses cannot rely on this mass and must build up a trust to generate a growing client base.
As an emerging business, you want to attract new clients to grow your customer base. However, returning clients are more lucrative to your business than new ones. A returning client is someone dedicated to your success because you show dedication to providing your client with proper service and good product.
Consider a defective product, they happen, and your client is now frustrated and has nowhere to go to since you are only an online site.
Open up channels for communication, give them ample human contact, have a human ear ready to hear their complaints and prepare a comprehensive list of solutions that are standards of operation for defective products, or issues with delivery and billing.
Consider the star and comment system that you provide for every product, this will give your site a stronger hold over new clients and will help to return clients decide faster.
Make sure that all comments are replied to, and make sure that you provide solutions to all.
However, consider that there will always be that one bad egg, that client that is never satisfied. Don’t ruminate of this person, let them freely complain and deal with them as you would any other client. Having one or two bad clients is not so much good for business as it will show you are a human interface company and not electronic. After all, if you listen to your customers, and provide a human ear as well as a solution, you won’t get back comments from clients claiming that there is no one to talk to and that the system is automated. That is something that deters new customers and old clients from returning.
One other product that is perfect for business seeking a stronger foothold in the internet, survey taking, where you are proactively seeking your client’s advice and feelings through dedicated surveys focused on specific issues. A survey is automated, and with 3 to 10 questions (which is the most you should ever ask at one time) and a short comment block, you will immediately give your client a feeling of connectivity that was not felt before.
Allowing your client the chance of interacting with you, and after finishing a survey, publishing the results and also providing feedback, works wonders at promoting a site’s popularity.
Walgreenslistens took 100 years to develop; it did not happen overnight. All businesses that are successful have to have patience and dedication to their clients. If you want a solid client base and a constant source of income, you must set up the human and electronic customer relations infrastructure that supports online marketing and even surpasses it for securing returning customers and generating to your businesses success and longevity.