[postintro]Please welcome our newest guest contributor, Lucy Reed. Lucy is an entrepreneur’s entrepreneur. She created Gig Mine (https://gigmine.co) to help others dig up sharing economy opportunities in a user’s area, all in a single web location, so users don’t have to jump between multiple sites. It’s the new and improved way to get a gig job![/postintro]
Operating a successful e-commerce or small business takes some dedication. Your business needs the right marketing plan in order to attract your first customers, but you also need to take the right steps to keep shoppers coming back. So, if you are an entrepreneur, how can you make the most of your business model? By following a few simple steps that will help you grow your business, protect your brand, and keep your products in demand with the customers that matter most.
Innovation Can Create and Keep More Customers
It seems like the world is changing a bit faster with each passing year. You may need some updated tech, improved marketing, or a fresh look to keep up with these changes. So, make sure your business has the resources it needs to adapt and improve to meet the needs of your customers.
If you’re not especially tech-savvy, there are plenty of human and digital resources you can utilize that will ensure your business keeps up with the times. For example, would your customers benefit from a computer or mobile app that makes your product or service more readily available to them? Working with an app developer on an as-needed basis is a minimal but worthwhile investment for taking your website presence to the next level. Do you want to elevate your web design, but a graphic designer isn’t in your budget? Take advantage of online courses (many of which are free) to learn basic coding skills that will help your site stand out from the competition.
Quality Customer Service Will Always Be in Demand
No matter how much tech influences the ways that customers shop, customer service will always be important. Consumers want to know that their money is being spent wisely. So, if your customer service is not up to par, you could lose out on some major profits. If you operate a small e-commerce business, you can create trust and loyalty with your customers by paying special attention to a few key areas.
Give your shoppers the power to answer questions themselves with a detailed, clear FAQ page. You should also consider providing support via live chat or be expedient in answering emails. If your personal and business inboxes are combined, think about creating a business email so you can stay connected to your customers. Supreme customer service will not only help you retain current customers, but you can also offer incentives for online reviews, which can help you attract even more customers.
Social Media Can Be a Powerful Small Business Tool
Email and chat should not be the only channels for connecting with customers. According to some recent stats, well over half of adults use Facebook or some other form of social media on a regular basis. With so many current and potential customers likely scrolling through their feeds, it only makes sense for you to take advantage of this virtually free marketing opportunity. So, how can you best promote your business online? First and foremost, you need to identify your target customer base so you can tailor your social media presence. Maybe your product will appeal to a younger audience who uses Instagram, or perhaps you’d prefer to focus your efforts on an older clientele who prefers Facebook.
Once you have your demographic identified, start promoting your brand with frequent posts, customer interactions, and even social media contests. In general, you need to have engaging content that’s eye-catching no matter which channel you’re posting on. For example, having a post on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with a photo or graphic that grabs your followers’ attention and linking to a product or how-to article on your site is a great way to provide valuable information about your business that drives traffic to your site. If you are new to utilizing all social media has to offer, working with a specialist to build your presence can provide you with immediate and long-term customer engagement.
Negative Reviews and Feedback Can Help Your Business Improve
So far, we’ve focused on the proactive steps you can take to build a positive relationship with your customers, but what should you do when that relationship sours? Dealing with negative customer experiences is just another part of owning a small business. The way you react, however, will determine whether those experiences hurt or help your business. Some customer complaints will show you problems with your operations or customer service model, so take the proper steps needed to address them. Others may simply be a need for the customer to be heard, so in these cases, take the time to just listen. No matter what methods you use to help heal those customer relationships, be sure to do so in a timely manner.
Most people appreciate a speedy response from business owners, and you may be able to save a lot of relationships by being so responsive. But what if after all those efforts, your customer still leaves a bad online review? You should still do what you can to resolve the situation, but also realize that negative online feedback happens to everyone. As long as you have worked to earn enough positive online reviews, one or two unpleasant ones are not likely to hurt your business.
Some negative reviews are not even real to begin with. If you do suspect your business to be the victim of fake online reviews, it’s important to take the proper actions to report those reviews through the proper channels. This guide offers step-by-step instructions on how to report false reviews to Google, Facebook, and Yelp so they can take action to have them removed. You may not be able to get the review taken down right away, but you can at least begin tracking your efforts to prevent review spammers.
Ensure Your Entrepreneurial Success with These Tried-and-True Techniques
Running a successful e-commerce or small business definitely takes some work. Always pay attention to key business factors, like customer service, brand reputation, and online engagement, which can pay off big for your small business. Put in the effort with the steps above and focus on building relationships with customers that will last. Most importantly, believe in yourself and your product so you can better promote your business.
Lucy Reed’s website is gigmine
Photo Credit: Pixabay