In case you haven't heard, we're in the middle of the worst recession the country has faced in decades. In fact, some feel we ain't seen nothing yet. Whatever stage we're in with this recession, it doesn't feel good. And there's no clear end in sight, which has companies of all sizes scared to death that customers may bale on them...good customers...that buy lots of stuff...and pay on time.
The last thing anybody wants is to lose good customers, even in the best of times. But it could be "lights out" if you lose them now. So businesses are trying to improve the customer experience to keep as many of them around as long as possible. Here are a few things that work for me, the customer.Make Me A Deal
You don't need to be Monty Hall, but a good deal may be able to keep me around longer. Hey, it's tough out here for me too! I have to cut back, tighten up, and do more with less -- like your company. Some things I might have to cut loose, but I may be able to stick it out for products I really like. And the companies that create special deals without me having to ask for them are the kinds of companies I want to do business with.
Make Me Do Less
It's tough enough pulling out my wallet right now, so anything you can do to make it easier is going to help YOU out. And one store that has made it easier to pull my wallet out (over and over...and over) is Borders. I signed up for their rewards program years ago, and love it. But I hated having to print the email coupons off before I could get use them. And I really hated it when I got the email while I'm in the store already. So when Borders began sending coupons via text message, I was able to show my phone to the cashier to get the discount instantly. No more printing necessary, which led to more impulse buying from me.
Make Me Laugh
Sometimes I just need a good laugh, like after reading the latest economic forecast. It's great when companies understand that every contact with me doesn't have to be a part of a sales pitch. A good laugh can do a customer good. And I received just that from Popeye's Chicken (aka @PopeyesChicken) when they commented on my buddy Michael Thomas' biscuit-eating prowess during a Twitter conversation. No sales pitch, just a funny tweet. And that laugh turned into lunch at one of their establishments. A place I hadn't been to in years.
Make Me a Star
Being in business myself, I can always use the exposure. So why not shine some of the spotlight on me. Feature me in your YouTube video, or on a podcast. If you've got a lot of friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter, tell people to follow me. Join my COLT 45 club - no not that one...sorry Billy Dee Williams. Help promote my blog posts by Commenting On and Linking To it, four or five times a month. And feel free to Digg it, StumbleUpon it or bookmark it on Delicious. And follow me on Twitter while you're at it! That will help me pass the Google Test and make a star...or just keep me in business.
Make My Day
We all know cheaper prices and better customer service will do the trick, but there are a many other ways you can improve my experience in dealing with your company. And continue to look for cool ways to make my experience with your company better, even when the economy is on the upswing...whenever that will be.
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Brent Leary is a founding partner of CRM Essentials