Boss Lady

Women should build ‘connectedness’ to keep in touch with customers


The process of connecting to a market has always been arduous for many. For those who truly feel an online presence is key to growth (that should be all of you), the ability to implement a strategy around feedback loops is critical. If you are a pure play, this is compulsory.

The ability to grow “connectedness” with your target market is the act of creating a communication link enabling you to fully understand the needs of your present and future customers.

When you are enjoying “connectedness”, your customers:

1) have a direct communication channel to you
2) have simple methods to reach you
3) feel welcome when they reach out to you
4) provide honest opinions on how you are doing in meeting their needs
5) know what happens when they provide you feedback

The concept of linking to your customers has been around forever. The non-interactive or sterile nature of communicating with your customers through an online channel has created resurgence around this issue.

With the power of the web comes the opportunity to build direct seamless connections to the target market regardless of business model.

Some attempts at this in the past have resulted in the tried and true Complaints Department or “Complaint Form”. Processes with a complaints focus breed negative comments (funny that). Businesses cannot make decisions on target market perceptions when all the feedback is negative? It paints an inaccurate view, resulting in processes built around “one off” complaints which may never occur again, ultimately creating clunky workflows and a bureaucratic culture. There needs to be a mix of good and bad.

Building Connectedness:

Your website can greatly simplify the ability for your new and existing customers to interact. The following methods help clarify how your website can be a part of this approach:

1) Database.

One method is to speak to those who have recently done business with you. Use your database and send them an online survey to fill out.

2) Online survey.

Once you have access to the database, the focus then moves to directing the customers to an online survey. Online surveys can be very simple to fill out if done properly (through the use of radial buttons and drop down boxes). Online surveys reduce the operational burden of implementation and brings visitors back to your website.

3) Reciprocity.

One of the big challenges comes in influencing the customer to fill out the survey, and to fill it out honestly. To improve the performance of a survey, provide incentives to the customer. This can be done by offering a small discount on a future product or service, or through the offer of being entered into a draw if the survey is filled out within a certain time frame.

4) Questions.

Survey’s need to be concise and to the point. If your customer feels there are questions which are not necessary or the survey will take a long time to complete, they will not proceed. Believe it or not, there is a best practice approach to building online surveys (article coming soon). For the survey to be value driven to both you and relevant to your customers, the nature of the questions must replicate the customer’s experience. For example, if an Organisation is a furniture retailer, questions should be arranged around:

  1. The shopping experience. Was the website (or physical store) laid out to make it simple for the customer to find what they are looking for?
    b. The sales experience. Was the website (or physical sales person) effective in answering their questions?
    c. Logistics. Were you provided notification of when the product was to be delivered? Was the delivery of the furniture timely? Were the delivery men (or women) professional?
    d. Overall satisfaction rating. Are you happy with the product purchased from the website (or store)? Was their information missing on the website which could have been helpful to you?

5) Polls.

Having the ability to ask simple straight forward questions through polling can be effective in quickly gaining insights into your target market. Polls are quick and directly to the point and can be a quick method to build opinions.

6) Online marketing.

Email marketing is an outbound approach to educating new and existing customers about various occurrences in your business and your business vertical (i.e. industry trends, best practice approaches, case studies). The feedback loop comes in the measurement of the campaign’s effectiveness. With the right email marketing tool, you can see what specific customers clicked on, what pages they viewed on your site, and whether they purchased from you as a result of the campaign message. Email marketing can be used to introduce innovative services or products to gauge interest. It can help to determine if a new product or service could be potentially worth piloting in the future.

7) Google analytics.

The value of Google Analytics cannot be over stated. Surveys, if not done properly, are known to be not a true representation of people’s/visitor’s opinions. Marketing and Survey businesses will adamantly disagree with this statement, however, how many times have you taken a survey and been 100% honest? Google Analytics provide accurate depictions of your target market opinions. Why?Visitors vote with their actions. The challenge is to partner with a team of Google Analytics experts who can define visitor behaviour and share the trends and insights with you.

Recovery processes. There is no point in implementing a feedback loop if you do not have processes in place to manage the feedback: good and bad. It’s great to hear how much you are loved, but how can that be used to your advantage i.e. testimonials, customer reviews. More importantly, what happens when negative feedback comes through? Is it “binned”? It’s a funny joke to have a complaints department which leads to a closet or to the back alley, but what message are you sending to your staff? Building true customer loyalty is in your recovery of retaining a customer when they have issues which must be managed. Processes and resource needs to be ready to handle this. The long term benefits out way the cost.

8) Contact us.

By having a contact us page which has an 0800 number, an email address, and a simple form, tells visitors you want to hear from them. It’s simple, but few do this properly.

The passion for continuously communicating to your customers breeds a customer centric culture. If customers see the efforts you make, a perception is built which grows not through push marketing, but through word of mouth. We have one client who has a very customer focused tag line (“We try harder”), yet they refuse to have an 0800 number on the website, for fear of too much feedback.

Building “connectedness” improves your understanding of customer needs, so when they change (and they will), you can change along with them.

About Necole Hardison'

Necole Hardison graduated Harvard Business School and studied many executive education programs. She is a business strategic expert.

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