Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Use These Market Research Tools and Tips to Build Loyalty and Love With Customers

In a recent article, one of my favorite marketing minds, Drew McLellan talks about having a Love Relationship with your customer.  This philosophy goes along with Tim Sanders' classic Love is the Killer App and a myriad other articles extolling the virtues of loving your customer.

Quite frankly, it's easy to talk about loving your customer -- I've done it myself on numerous occasions.  What isn't quite as easy is setting up a system to make them feel loved and to build that loyal profitable relationship.  Loving people in your personal life is one thing and creating a systemic way to generate a loving relationship with hundreds or even thousands of customers requires a little something more.

As anyone who has ever been in a love relationship that has lasted more than thirty days can tell you -- it takes some dedication and work to make love happen.  Long lasting and fulfilling love (whether it's with your soul mate or thousands of customers) doesn't just drop in your lap, it takes ---

Being a good listener.  Listening to the person you care about means that you are 100% focused on what they are talking about, what it means and then actually having a conversation around that topic.  Listening implies a two-way conversation where both parties feel heard and acknowledged.

If crowd sourcing isn't a part of your market research mix, you need to make it a significant part.  Crowd sourcing tools like IdeaScale are an ideal step in engaging your customers inside your product or service conversation.  Start with a single community -- it's FREE.  Then drive your customers there.  It will take concerted time and effort to teach them that this is a place where they can engage with you and your team to discuss new ideas.

Doing those nice little things.  Nothing says you care so much as when you surprise your loved one with something that says "I heard you" .  If you've had a significant conversation and your customer has told you something - when you implement it and provide feedback to them that says that they've been heard and listened to, their loyalty to you will increase.  The IdeaScale app gives you the power to TELL your community what you are doing with their ideas and how you will implement them.  If you won't be implementing the idea as is, but are using some component of the idea, then share that as well.  While this isn't a gift per se -- it's the gift of being heard that counts.

Having conversations.  Conversations with people we love don't take place face-to-face as frequently as they used to.  In fact, many of us probably keep in touch with our friends and family be exchanging texts and pictures via mobile device or Facebook.

Conversations with your customers are much the same way.  With half the planet on Facebook, you can choose to have conversations with your customers via Facebook fan page.  If your customers aren't on Facebook because your product is more industrial or technical, then consider creating a customer community via MicroPoll, Survey Analytics panel management application.

When you create a customer community or panel, you'll find that the quality of your conversations will improve exponentially.  You'll be able to ask questions via mobile device using the SurveySwipe App and tour customer will give you answers.  These answers won't just be anecdotal, they will come to you as data - yeah charts, graphs, etc.  Your customers' voices will be heard in a clearer more quantitative way.  This gives you the freedom to improve your conversation and get more specific or dig deeper inside issues that your customers care about when it comes to choosing your product or service.
Keeping it all together.  It's important to keep your customer data together as much as possible.  As a DIY Marketer, I understand the appeal of low-cost applications and am willing to sacrifice in convenience to save money.  But when it comes to customer communications -- you want to make sure that these conversations are integrated, otherwise,  if you ask your customer one thing via survey, and then communicate something else via email, it's almost like cheating.

Create a customer relationship strategy that is cohesive and works easily together.  Try to keep your strategy under one application umbrella such as Survey Analytics.  Integrating your customer feedback strategy will ease your mind and build efficiencies into your feedback process.
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