When the cherry on top just isn’t good enough anymore – are you ready for the customer 3.0?
Do you know that feeling? Your customers want more and more from you and everyone seems to expect special treatment? Then you probably have a lot of customers 3.0.
Those were the days when your customers came to visit you personally in your own shop. Advising your customers and selling your products were enjoyable activities and you were consistently aware of your competitors. There were no such things as internet, social networks, blogs, communities or forums which publicized every dialog, customer contact or complaint.
Nowadays all of these things compel entrepreneurs to strike out on their own and be more innovative. Due to the vast influence of the World Wide Web and its steadily increasing availability, it is a rare occurrence that a customer comes into your shop of his own accord or just happens to drop by. The modern customer uses the internet to research the brand or product, inform himself via social networks or he exchanges information with friends via blogs and online communities. He will buy where and when it suits him. These are topics which almost every successful business is well aware of and to which you have more than likely already responded. You’ve done it! You have done business with customer 2.0 of the internet age and pay particular attention to your Google rankings, the total number of Facebook fans and you respond to customer comments in various social media channels.
It doesn’t stop there. Customer 2.0 has evolved. The fact that you have a Facebook page is no longer sufficient. He expects you to provide him with extra special treatment. He has become more confident, opinionated, impatient and would prefer it if he could contribute to the development of services and products. You no longer sell your products to the customer but rather pay him close attention and he is more than aware of his situation. The German author Andreas Buhr calls him “customer 3.0”. He attaches particular importance to respect, authenticity, and individuality. These new-age consumers are only satisfied when they are perceived as a person and no longer just a customer number in a large CRM system.
Sounds like the end of the world, like insane costs, support departments and a lot of effort which no one wants to finance? You’re right, that’s exactly what happens! Customer 3.0 is changing the traditional approaches of customer communication. The question is: how are you going to deal with it all? In principle, it’s not rocket science conveying a few values which you already consider to be important. Rather, it is more gratifying when the product benefits become less significant and trust takes a step into the limelight. Great opportunities emerge to build close relations to the customer, develop customer retention strategies and create a customer base which shares common values and wants to develop with you.
Score with your own conviction:
1. Believe in your customers:
Get in touch with your customers personally to assure them the feeling that you’re there for them and that they will be given preferential treatment. Make it easy for your customers to get in touch with you, e.g. a large button on your website, as opposed to a low-key link at the end of the page, which forwards them directly to you.
2. Offer advice and support tailored to your customers’ needs:
Respond to all customer questions and comments in detail. Today’s customers want to be taken seriously and want to know your opinion on their issues. Take time to analyze exactly what your customers want and provide them with the appropriate solution.
3. Provide tansparent and honest offers:
Present your customers with only those offers which are likely to interest them. Don’t attempt to burden them with “hidden” costs and “special” offers.
4. Start an open, dialog-based communication in real time:
Be present on all channels. Whether it’s Facebook, live support or Twitter, your customer should always be able to reach you. Response times should be as short as possible – let your customer know how long they should expect to wait for an answer and stick to these timeframes.
5. Give your customers a voice:
Set your values to the test and consider how and where you want to share these with your customers. How do you want to be perceived and how are you actually perceived? Take criticism positively and show your customers how this has been implemented. Talk to your customers – on all channels. Use the feedback you receive from your customers – it really is the best feedback you will receive.
Every serving of special treatment will be worth it in the end. The feeling of security which your customers receive from your personal service will make them happy customers. It is fact that friendly sales assistants who radiate compentence are more successful in winning the confidence of customers and closing deals. This is no different in the new world of customer 3.0 – whether in a store, in front of the computer or on a smart phone. We don’t say that “people buy from people” for nothing. It is extremely important that you convince yourself of your product or service and its values which you wish to convey as a business. Allow others to judge you based on exactly those values! Only then can you convert customers into fans of your business and keep them there for the long term.
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Are you ready for the customer 3.0?