Give Your Customers the Small Business Treatment

Give Your Customers the Small Business Treatment

February 7th, 2013
Give Your Customers the Small Business Treatment

An American Express 2011 survey found that 75% of customers think they get better service at small businesses, and an overwhelming majority say small local businesses are key to their local economy. The conclusion: at least three-quarters of your customers want that "small business" feeling.

 

You can give that feeling to them, no matter your size. Social networks are the perfect place for doing so, but you have to start thinking like a small business. 
 
1. Build connections
Spend a lot of time talking one on one with customers, building connections. Without a human connection, your store might as well be a vending machine. Focus on one-on-one interaction, talking with individual potential customers, and building community online.
 
2. Get involved
You can get involved online by participating in the community around you. Join in on events like webinars and Twitter chats. Participate in community projects like fundraisers and group writing projects. Be part of what's going on. Don't just make a donation to a cause and then slap a banner ad on your website.
 
3. Think long-term
The old way of behaving online might have been to hit and run, dropping an ad on a network and never returning or never interacting. But think about building your "storefront" for the long-term. Pick a small number of networks, maybe even just one, so you can focus on meeting the people there and getting to know the community online.
 
4. Be helpful
You can benefit from a helpful attitude online. Answer questions and share useful information. You don't have to give away your work for free, but you can always have a helpful attitude. In a big business there may be "room to hide," as a corporate friend has said. But remember that hiding isn't helping.
 
If you hear of a job opportunity, pass the opportunity along. Did you turn down potential clients who aren't a good match for you? See whether you can make a match for them from within your network.
 
5. Be authentic
Avoid fancy words or putting on airs-- speak the language your customers know. Talk about your product like a real person would. Listen to what customers want and how they want it, and respond accordingly.
 
6. Let customers learn their way
Offer to help everyone personally, but let customers take their time in exploring your site. Do you know some predictive questions that can help guide your customers to choose the right product for them? Is your main website full of self-service information that is accessible? Do you use words, pictures, and video? Do you define your terms on each and every page? These are all things you should do to encourage trust in your customers and build a better relationship with them.

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