4 Steps To Better Connect With Online Customers And Grow Your Business

September 11, 2015 Alicia Fiorletta

As a shopper, you’re more educated and empowered than ever before. Not only can you tap into search engines, but you also can visit social networks to learn about local businesses, products, and services. Even your mobile device acts as a personal handheld encyclopedia, giving you anytime, anywhere access to whatever information you desire.

And as a business owner, you know that you’re not the only one embracing technology while browsing and buying. In fact, online researching and comparison has become the new norm: 85% of customers research businesses online before they even decide to visit a store location.

Are you successfully connecting and engaging with your customers as they embark on these online browsing journeys? Here are four ways you can build stronger customer relationships and, in turn, grow your business:

1. Build your presence on social networks

Sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are powerful outlets to raise awareness and generate buzz. With Facebook alone garnering more than 1.4 billion monthly active users, social networks can help you reach your target customers through one central platform, share offers, news and more.

Up to 79% of consumers follow businesses on social media to get more information about products and services, so your posts will definitely be seen. And best of all, social sites are free to use. By creating profiles across different networks, you have the opportunity to connect with millions of potential customers, and even improve your rankings on search engines like Google and Bing.

Yelp is an especially valuable network for service-oriented businesses: 82% of Yelp users visit the site because they plan to spend money. And 89% of consumers who end up making a purchase do so within a week.

In an interview with Retail TouchPoints, Yelp executive Darnell Holloway shared a few best practices for businesses looking to improve their Yelp profiles, such as:

  • Describe your business, products and services in a detailed fashion.
  • Include your web site, business hours and other vital information on your profile.
  • Post photos of your storefront, staff and other elements that show off your business and what makes it unique.

2. Allow consumers to book appointments online 

Your customers have access to so many different business and service options. To stand out, you need to provide them with extra value. A great way to do this is by offering online booking through your web site and social networks like Facebook and Yelp. With this functionality, consumers can not only learn about your business and services, but also book an appointment on the spot.

Due to the popularity of services like OpenTable, demand for online booking solutions is on the rise. They empower consumers to book appointments and make reservations at any time and using any device, making their lives exponentially easier.

Many businesses are recognizing the bottom-line impact of online booking solutions. In fact, over 90,000 professionals use Booker for online bookings, a key to their year-over-year growth. As more consumers turn to the web and their mobile devices to make decisions, you can count on that number increasing.

3. Always provide a great customer experience 

Social networks can help you build buzz and online booking solutions empower you to make customers’ lives easier. The next extremely vital step is ensuring they have a great experience in your location. After all, 70% of consumers remain loyal to businesses because of good customer service.

With a business management solution in place, you can build detailed customer profiles that include everything from their full name, phone number and address, as well as their past purchases and even the coupons and offers they redeem.
Having this information can help you forge more profitable, long-term relationships with customers.

Imagine being able to call each customer by name and offer them a unique coupon or deal based on their past purchases. These small, personal touches definitely impact the customer experience and can help you boost sales and loyalty.

Many business management solutions also have inventory and employee management tools. As a result, business owners and managers can get a detailed look into the most popular products and services, and better manage their employee schedules. Doing business is easier and more efficient, which not only impacts the customer experience but your employees’ experience, as well.

4. Continue the conversation

So what happens after your customers make a purchase and leave your location? How do you keep the conversation going?

Remember those customer profiles I touched on earlier in this blog? You can use that information in combination with remarketing tools to send timely emails that promote new sales and offerings, and even share company news and updates.

Although it’s definitely important to send emails to all customers, you also should send messages to individual customers that are more relevant to their unique preferences and behaviors

Personalizing messages and offers undoubtedly has an impact on customer satisfaction: 80% of customers say they want emails to include information on their past purchases.

You also may want to consider creating a loyalty program so you can reward customers for their visiting your location on an ongoing basis. Some businesses use standard punch cards and dollar-off programs, but you can do so much more. If you personalize rewards and communications to individual customers, you can see satisfaction increase fourfold.

It’s an exciting time for service-oriented businesses. Whether you represent a salon, spa, fitness center, dog groomer or even plumber, you have a variety of tools and technologies at your fingertips that can help you grow your business.

Want to learn more about how to better engage your target customers? Check out this infographic and learn how Booker can help you grow your business.

About the Author

Alicia Fiorletta

Alicia Fiorletta is Senior Editor at Retail TouchPoints. Although she tends to gravitate to all things social and mobile, she strives to create compelling thought leadership pieces, trend features and case studies that spotlight how retailers are improving the customer experience. In addition to updating the Retail TouchPoints web site and developing in-depth trend pieces for the publication’s email newsletter, she also manages the Retail TouchPoints Tumblr blog.

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