Reputation management. You might be imagining a celebrity who needs to do damage control after sharing something inappropriate during an interview with TMZ. In reality, reputation management is crucial for any business, big or small. Even a company who doesn’t have a dedicated Reputation Manager is – or should be – engaging in reputation maintenance and amelioration on a daily basis.
So, what does reputation management for companies look like? In a nutshell, it means influencing and controlling a company’s reputation (shocker, right?). However, with the growth of the internet and social media, the notion of reputation management has transformed into online reputation management. The latter makes search results a core part of a company’s reputation, meaning you control what shows up when someone looks you up online.
An important piece of the online reputation management puzzle is online reviews. Online reviews are crucial to any business that wants to keep control of their online reputation. According to The Online Department, “Online reviews have created a new form of marketing and communication that bridges the gap between simple word-of-mouth and a viral form of feedback that can move virtual mountains for a business.” The importance of online reviews for businesses is truly mind boggling.
Why are reviews so important?
When it comes to word of mouth, online reviews have taken the spotlight. They are now the ultimate “word of mouth endorsement.” The stats speak for themselves:
Before we get into the importance of positive reviews, we should discuss why it is at all important to have reviews. In other words, what are the consequences of having no reviews? You might think that no reviews is better than bad reviews, but this is not always the case. Without reviews, people doing research on your company are lacking the evidence that you are a real brand that they can trust. Without a number of online reviews to your name, you are missing out on new business.
Imagine this: You own a restaurant. Someone is visiting the area and looking for a place to eat. They use their smartphone to determine which restaurants are available to them. The search results show yours and one other establishment on the same street. Your restaurant does not have a single review on Yelp, Google, Facebook or any other platform. The other restaurant has several 4 or 5 star reviews. In that moment, it does not matter that your restaurant has tastier food or better service, the customer will pick your competitor. Without reviews, your business lacks credibility and looks questionable. Prospective customers will wonder why there aren’t any reviews, thinking “Is this business not popular? Does no one know about it? Is it a bad restaurant?” Every time a potential customer comes across your business online – and 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business – you might be losing them to the competition.
While it’s important to have reviews in general, the impact positive reviews have on your business is astounding. Here’s the impact online reviews can have:
This is what it comes down to: online reviews will lead to increased profit. Reviews give customers the information that they need to make the decision to purchase a product or service from a business. Today’s consumer is highly informed, conducting their own in depth research before buying anything. Reviews are an important part of this research and can be the tipping point in decisions where there is little-perceived product differentiation. Again, imagine you are picking between two hair salons. If both salons offer the same services, fall around the same price point, and are in the same area, the reviews will be the tiebreaker. A consumer will almost always pick the establishment with better reviews as this is the differentiating factor between the two.
According to Dimensional Research, 90% of respondents who read online reviews are influenced by the reviews in their buying decision. Even more noteworthy is that for every $1 of online revenue influenced by reviews, that impact is multiplied offline by 4x or 5x.
Strengthen Customer Loyalty
Reviews go hand-in-hand with loyalty. Customers who take the time to leave a positive review for a business are far more likely to feel a certain loyalty to that business. There is a much higher chance that they will keep coming back. Think about the good reviews you have written on Yelp, as a customer. You probably frequent those places a lot more often than the ones you didn’t review. The act of leaving an online review establishes a relationship with the business, allowing customers to feel like they have a voice. Consumers want to be able to provide feedback in a meaningful way and know that their voices are heard by both the business and their peers. These reviews will then drive new prospects to your business, making it a tool for both customer acquisition and customer retention.
Improve SEO & Ranking
Online reviews work towards improving your website’s ranking on search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo!, Yelp and so on. The more that is written about your business online, the more important a search engine considers you to be. Besides moving up in ranking, you will also be featured in a wider array of keywords. With reviews coming in, your business website will have a steady influx of SEO keywords that help your business strengthen its online presence. These new keywords will help to bring up your website in search results when customers are looking for the type of product or service you sell. According to MOZ’s Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, online reviews are thought to make up 10% of how Google and other search engines decide to rank search results. Online reviews are as critical to your local SEO strategy as link building citations and on-site optimization.
Spark Brand Advocacy
If you’ve started collecting reviews, you will soon realize that they are worth a great deal in terms of marketing. Reviews can offer your business benefits that a simple marketing campaign just can’t, they keep working long after the review has been posted. It fosters continual brand awareness, with your customers taking the role of brand advocates. And it’s safe to say that if your customers left a positive public review, they might also be recommending your business offline to their network. Treat these customers well and recognize their efforts, as they are your personal brand influencers.
Better Serve Your Customers
Reviews can tell you where you are excelling and where you might need to improve. By being open to this feedback, your business will be able to better serve customers and adapt accordingly. This will create an even more positive experience, giving customers a sense that their voice is heard and taken seriously. In fact, 78 percent of consumers say that seeing management respond to online reviews makes them believe that the business cares more about them. It’s important to take all reviews into account. Some companies make the mistake of glorifying positive reviews while brushing off negative ones. Both, however, hold equal value and should be handled accordingly. More specifically, ReviewTrackers found that 52 percent of customers expect to hear back from brands within 7 days of writing an online review, particularly one that’s negative or critical.
How can you manage your brand’s reputation through reviews?
With AmobiApps’s newest product release small businesses are able to harness the power of positive reviews. Your branded mobile app will become even more powerful, being a consistent source of online reviews. So, how exactly does this reputation add-on work? With our mobile reviews campaign, app users will be prompted to review your business on the most popular online review sites, including Google, Yelp, Facebook, and TripAdvisor. We ensure only the reviews with positive ratings get published, while you can directly handle the negative feedback as a business owner.
The customization component is what really sets our reputation management system apart. You can set up triggers to send review requests when the app users are experiencing a positive interaction with your brand. For instance, users may receive a prompt right after they redeem a reward or after they have enjoyed their meal. Based on a user’s actions within the app, you can determine when they are most likely to leave a positive review about your business.
Most companies send out emails asking for reviews days or even weeks after the customer’s purchase. By doing this, they are forcing customers to do the hard work of remembering the details of their last interaction with the brand, long after it has happened. According to Groove HQ, “we already know that customer loyalty is built on making your customers’ lives easier, and that principle extends to asking for reviews, too.” So, the best time to ask for a review is when the value that you’ve delivered to the customer is at the top of their mind. This makes it easy for them to recall what happened and write an honest review. The Reviews Campaign, then, allows you to send out review requests at the right time depending on your business.
Once you have set up your campaigns, sit back and watch the results come in. You can track metrics that matter, like total requests sent, total reviews received, and level of satisfaction. And if you have a franchise or multiple locations, you can set up and track performance for each location separately. Each Reviews Campaign will be tailored to reach the right people at the right time. As 72% of consumers will take action only after reading a positive review, this reputation management model will directly drive new business.
Mobile App Helped Local Italian Restaurant Grow 33% Every Year
A local and upscale Italian restaurant, needed a way to build customer loyalty and brand engagement. A mobile app provided a way to engage customers beyond the confines of the establishment through push notifications and a gratifying loyalty program. Now, the restaurant has dramatically increased customer retention, as well as revenue and year-over-year growth.
Build Customer Loyalty & Engagement
The Local Restaurant was already successful, but they wanted to build loyalty and engage customers – also outside of the establishment. The owner previously used email campaigns; his forte was writing strong emails that gave rise to his list of 47,000 subscribers. Adding an app to his marketing repertoire would increase engagement even more and add to the restaurant’s success.
Exciting Loyalty Program & Push Notifications
The mobile strategy was simple: focus on the loyalty program and push notifications, and do these right. If a restaurant is more pricey than usual, a customer might think twice about dining there (even if it is their favorite place). Benedetto’s created a loyalty program that overcame this initial barrier by providing customers with a generous reward – a completed mobile punch card can be redeemed for $50. In addition, the owner uses his persuasive writing skills to send out push notifications to these loyal customers.
“The fishmonger brought fresh stone crab to the backdoor one evening, so Chef Ben sent out a push notification letting everyone know about his catch of the day. The message went out 5pm and he was sold out of crab by 7pm!”
Increase in ROI & Customers Retention
By adding a mobile app to the marketing portfolio, Benedetto’s was able to grow the business with 33% every year, for the last 3 years. The simultaneous marketing endeavors, including quality emails, powerful push notifications, and an exciting loyalty program, have allowed Benedetto’s to dramatically increase customer retention and engagement. The restaurant also has over a 1000 loyal customers actively using the loyalty program on a regular basis.
2,800+ Downloads 1,000+ Loyalty Users 33% Growth Every Year
KEY SUCCESS FACTORS:
Zeroing in on the key value you can provide to customers and translating that into an app.
Using the KISS approach (= Keep it Simple, Stupid) to determine app features and executing them perfectly.
Mobile App Helped Local Italian Restaurant Grow 33% Every Year
What comes to mind when you hear the word “app”? Do you think of a game? Something you can’t live without? Or simply a cool gadget on your phone?
Small business owners often shut down when they hear the word “app” being pitched. They, understandably, think there is no money or time to invest in an app ⎼ especially if they don’t even have any other online presence set up yet. Small businesses might see apps as just a gimmicky addition to their marketing portfolio.
But here’s the thing: an app might actually be the one thing that can help the business significantly grow. Why? Because an app is not just a mobile application; an app is a complete mobile marketing solution. If it is executed correctly, a small business will see a significant increase in revenue and customer engagement. Ultimately, this tool won’t be an extra expense, it will save the business a lot of money. How? An app, or mobile solution, can rethink a small business’ social presence, local presence, and mobile presence, as well as turn its best customers into marketers.
Busting The Myth
We have labeled it “ReThink”. More specifically, the Rethink Strategy redefines the way you think about customer experience, customer loyalty, customer advocacy and company ranking. This strategy will also allow small business owners to understand the benefits of a mobile solution.
The first step of the Rethink Strategy is to analyse which experiences would be better facilitated through a mobile solution. In other words, how can the customer experience be improved at a particular business?
Traditionally, companies have emphasized “touchpoints”, referring to the critical moments when customers interact with a brand during their purchasing process. However, a shift is taking place as successful companies focus on the customer journey in its entirety. According to Harvard Business Review’s research, “organizations able to skillfully manage the entire experience reap enormous rewards: enhanced customer satisfaction, reduced churn, increased revenue, and greater employee satisfaction”. A mobile solution allows any business to move away from mere touch points and start addressing this customer journey as a whole.
For instance, a local restaurant might implement mobile food ordering. Customers now have the option to place an order with the tap of a button through an app. This translates into not having to wait in line, not having to make a phone call, and not needing to go through the hassle of paying at the establishment. As a result, the patrons are provided with a more pleasurable and convenient experience at the restaurant. So, instead of merely improving the “sales touchpoint” at the cash register, the small business is able to improve the entire encounter starting with the purchase process.
An improved customer experience, then, builds loyalty. The better the experience at the establishment, the more likely people are to return. And the way a small business deals with loyalty can also be rethought with a mobile solution.
Every business, whether a mom-and-pop shop or a global company, relies on loyal customers for success. Loyal customers account for 20% of a company’s customers. While that might not seem impressive at first glance, that 20% drives 80% of a business’s total revenue and 72% of total visits to the establishment. This data clearly shows that it is more profitable for businesses to go after customer retention than customer acquisition – however, many do the exact opposite. In fact, it costs 500% more to acquire new customers than it does to keep current ones.
For example, a salon can implement a mobile stamp card, rewarding customers with a free haircut when it’s complete. For the customer, this means no longer losing a physical punch card and carrying around 20 different rewards cards. Customers now feel that every purchase they make amounts to something bigger. This, again, contributes to a positive customer journey. As a result, rethinking (or implementing) the mobile loyalty strategy can increase repeat business.
Now that a loyal following has been built, a small business should empower their customers to spread the word. Through an app, customers can easily be prompted to share their opinion on social media, produce online reviews or send a referral.
We all know that people love to talk about things they love (and hate). So if they are a loyal and happy customer, it is important to make it as easy as possible for them to share their thoughts with others. Think of traditional word-of-mouth, as a happy customers tells two people about their experience, and those two people each tell another two people. According to Entrepreneur, word-of-mouth is triggered when a customer experiences something far beyond what was expected. A mobile solution can help in doing so – by rethinking experience (as was mentioned above). In addition, Nielsen states that 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising – 10 times more effective to be exact. Word-Of-Mouth Marketing, then, is the most powerful form of advertising a small business can have, as each happy customer can steer dozens of new ones their way.
A gym might send out a push notification to its members, for example, asking them to rate the establishment. Members who frequently go to that gym will be encouraged to leave a positive review or share on social media. Now potential customers will come across these reviews when researching gyms online, making a strong case for the small business.
This stronger online presence will lead to the final stage of the ReThink Strategy, namely Reach. More reviews allow you to rank higher on directory websites like Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor and Zomato, making sure local businesses are found.
Reviews have a direct impact on local search rankings, so small business should make acquiring them a priority. Businesses who want to appear in Google’s local 3-pack need to have a high volume of good reviews. A better online ranking will increase exposure and bring in new customers who, in turn, can become advocates for the business.
Imagine you are in the mood for an acai bowl (we love those here in San Diego), but you don’t know where to get one. You’ll most likely conduct an online search, perhaps by typing in “acai bowl in San Diego”. What will pop up are Google’s 3 local listings, showing the most popular places to get this snack. Below that will probably be the yelp list for “best acai bowls in San Diego”. You will most likely eat an acai bowl at one of these places, not going beyond those search results. A mobile solution will help a small business rank for these desirable positions by acquiring an abundance of reviews.
This brings the Rethink Strategy full circle, with new customers coming through (online) word-of-mouth marketing and embarking on the ReThink journey themselves. Not only does each stage of the mobile model improve the experience, it ultimately grows the entire business:
A 1-star increase on Yelp has been proven to translate to a 5-9% increase in revenue.
A 5% increase in customer retention will increase profitability by 25%.
Adopting a mobile solution can save a business an average cost of $5,000 annually.
So, we definitely busted that myth! An app is not just an app. An app can be a mobile solution that redefines the entire customer journey and brings about significant growth. A mobile solution has real tangible results, often making them an integral part of the business. The data suggests small businesses are building apps to increase sales (55%), improve customer experience (50%) and to become competitors in a specific market (50%). According to recent studies, nearly half of small businesses are expected to adopt a mobile app by 2017. The features that an app can have (e.g. mobile food ordering, reservations, loyalty programs) are more than add-ons, each of these are benefits of a complete mobile solution that can help a company save or make money. It’s time for local owners to welcome a mobile solution into their small business.
How has an app transformed your small businesses or the local businesses in your area? Share your experiences in the comments!
The marketing challenge of the future: how to get people to download your app. You might be facing these struggles with your company’s app too. There are many strategies to increase app downloads, including pre-launch marketing, active blogging and gaining endorsement. While these are great long-term projects, you can start small.
Facebook has a new button! You can now add a “Use App” button to your Facebook business page, and link it directly to your app. Your Facebook visitors will be just one click away from downloading and using your app!
This button, and its purpose, is what marketers define as the Call to Action (CTA). In the online sense, a call to action is a region of the screen that drives the visitor to click-through to engage further with a brand. In a broader sense, virtually any type of content can (and should) include a call to action. CTAs have proven to be effective in telling your users what actions to take. So how persuasive are CTAs? We’ll let the stats do the talking:
This post is not about just any call to action, it’s about getting people to download your app.
And here’s how you do it:
1. Log on to your Facebook business page
2. Click on Add a Button
3. Select Use our App from the Choose a Button drop-down menu
4. Enter your app URL in the website field
5. Click Save Changes, and admire your new button!
That’s it, piece of cake. Now any visitor who comes to your Facebook page will see the call to action “Use App”. You are literally telling your customers what their next step is, with regards to your brand. Once they click on that button, they’ll be taken directly to your app. So don’t miss out on this easy (and free) way to connect with your customers and market your app!
P.S. This button is not only for adding an app to your Facebook page. If you want your “button” to say and do something else (i.e. contain a different CTA), simply pick another option from the drop-down menu.
How Mobile Apps Are Transforming The Fitness Industry
Health and wellness is quickly becoming a top priority for an increasing number of people, and a core component of this trend is fitness. With this growing demand comes the inevitable growth in gyms, trainers, and related experts all vying for health conscious customers. It’s a 3.4 trillion dollar global industry with several different niches. It doesn’t matter if your approach is holistic, straight up about hard science, program/method specific, or general as in telling clients to just eat healthily and exercise. What matters is that your gym stands out in its niche.
As with most things these days, an individual’ s quest for a healthier self usually starts online. Nearly three-quarters of people online researched wellness and fitness trends in 2015. A gym owner’s first instinct might be to have an amazing website built. While not exactly a bad idea, a better one would be to get a mobile app. People are attached to their phones, as evidenced by nearly everyone at a gym either having them strapped to their arm or breast. This is even more true for tech-savvy millennials. People look to their devices to help them with everything they do, and this includes exercising. Here is what the right gym mobile app can do for a gym, and why they should get one.
Reasons Why Gyms Should Get a Mobile App
Social Media: Social media plays a big role in a gym’s business strategy. It is essentially their online face and personality. It is often what potential members first interact with. It also plays into the habits of Millennials who tend to trust health and fitness news shared by their peers on social media. A mobile app can help ensure that your gym is what they are sharing.
Content Creation and Optimization: Whether your gym caters to the hardcore CrossFit enthusiasts or to the donut and pizza crowd who wants some light exercise a couple of times a week to balance things out, a mobile app can make sure that your product gets marketed to the people you want to buy it. It’s not enough to only offer your product at a physical location. Gym consumers are looking for a personalized experience, not just a fitness program. High-value and informative SEO based content is essential.
Influencer Marketing: Think of marketing the same way as exercise plans and equipment. The machines and routines from twenty years ago still work, in terms of getting into shape, but modern equipment and newer regimens are better. Or at the very least, they bring in new members who are hooked on the next big trend.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that ads don’t cut it anymore when it comes to the savvy millennial gym-user. They are looking for tangible information that they can trust. One way for gyms to do this is to effectively brand their trainers and promote them, or provide a virtual coach. One research study found Influencer Amplified Blog Posts were eleven times more profitable than banner ads.
Membership Platforms: The most reliable revenue stream for gyms are from regular members and membership fees. This residual income is invaluable. An app can add value to a user’s membership by letting them see class schedules, upcoming events, and programs. It can also give them reminders to go workout. One of the main reasons people quit gyms is because they get out of the habit of going. An app can keep them in the habit by reminding and gently urging them to go.
Streaming Workout Videos: Technology has made it where businesses can operate beyond their walls. Gyms are no different. Classes can be streamed, either live or recorded, for members who can’t make it to a physical location. Trainers can post videos where they give exercise and nutrition tips. It’s even possible for trainers to run one on one sessions through the app for those out of town members.
Online Reputation Management: Brand reputation is more important than ever and vital for long-term success. Nearly all users will research a good or service online before buying, including your gym. Use technology to show potential members why yours is the best, what your focus and message (your USP) is. Having a way for your app users to comment and rate your gym is an excellent way to make sure your online reputation is a good one.
Fitness & Workout Tracking and Wearables: Technology and fitness have always gone hand in hand, which makes the trend of wearable technology to track workouts come as no surprise. The first quarter of 2015 alone saw the sale of 11 million Fitbits. App support for these devices, such a syncing and tracking progress, can go a long way to attracting, and keeping new members.
Workout and Gym Experience Personalization: People want a personalized experience instead of being part of a one size fits all, assembly line approach. Apps allow a gym to let users personalize their workout experiences. They can be a virtual trainer, real-time exercise planner, or even a pocket workout buddy.
(Mobile Apps Are Transforming The Fitness Industry
Mobile App Solutions for the 21st Century Gym
Be Where the Gym Users Are: Millennials will be your primary gym members, and they are tech-savvy and constantly on the move. There is a good chance that some of that tech will be wearable. They have blurred the lines between work and leisure, and it all fits into their “near me” lifestyle where they search for goods and services close to their location, i.e. a coffee shop “near me or a gym “near me.” Near me searches are growing at a rate of 146% per year, and a key part of what gets businesses “near me” found are mobile apps. When people do these types of searches, they have already committed to making a purchase. If they don’t see you in the search results, they will not choose you. A mobile app will make you part of the mix.
Apps and Community Engagement: Millennials care about the community they live in, and want the businesses they engage with to be ethical and socially aware. Mobile apps can make that connection, and let the app user get in on it by making them a part of any effort. They can be part of 13.1 runs, marathon walks, Tough Mudder Competitions etc. where their participation benefits a community oriented charity or organization, and an app can help facilitate this.
Apps and Video Go Hand in Hand: Video is essential for every successful business of the future, and this includes Gyms. Members will want streamed workout videos, motivational videos, and informative offerings. Apps bring that streaming to your user’s hand.
The Whole Package: Mobile apps can deliver your message to gym members with educational and wellness information that builds your brand’s authority, trustworthiness, and makes your gym the first place they check when they have any questions or needs.
Membership: Mobile apps can offer gym members a value-added such as instructional videos, virtual guides, and workout reminders via push notification. This also helps with member retention rates by keeping them engaged outside of the gym walls. An app could also make membership renewals much easier and convenient for users. One tap and they’re a member for another year.
Reputation Management: Because more people research a business before buying a product or service, it is imperative for businesses to take proactive steps to manage their reputation. Mobile apps can link directly to places like Yelp, Google Maps, and Facebook where prompts can ask users to rate their experience and leave feedback – all simple and seamlessly integrated into the app interface.
Syncing to Wearables and Trackers: Millennials love tracker’s so to keep them loyal to your gym brand you need to get the wearables syncing with your app, which creates the added value they so crave. The analytics from the wearable can be taken and combined with your service which allows individuals to share, monitor, and measure success then they will enthusiastically want to keep using your services.
Gyms and Mobile Apps: Success Stories
Wellfit Personal Training
WellFit Personal Training is a Newcastle Personal Training studio created to deliver maximum results to its clients, offering both 1-on-1 and small group fitness services. Clients are able to sessions straight through their smartphone with an easy to use online booking system. In addition, you can stay up to date with all of Wellfit’s community events and connect with all of their social media platforms. Other features include the ability to receive timely push notifications from the gym in case any personal training session times are changed or canceled.
The Mobile Industry Benefitting Small Businesses – Focus on Gyms
Gyms and fitness-oriented businesses are driven by their members, and a growing number of those new members are Millennials. Because Millennials are so tech oriented, gyms will have to embrace the same technology in order to be successful.
Mobile apps meet gym users where they are (no matter where that might be), and combined with wearable technology, enhance the member’s experience which in turn boosts the gym business. The service a gym now offers must extend beyond the four walls of the gym itself, or in other words members expect to be able to workout at them gym even when they aren’t there. A mobile app gives them what they want – a complete package that inspires them, informs them, and adds real life value.
We have reached the point of critical mass on mobile. People are increasingly spending less time on other channels and more time on their smartphone or other mobile devices.
As we know already, time spent is money spent. In fact, mobile e-commerce experienced a 47% growth rate last year, which means it is more important than ever to examine the success of your app and how it can be improved.
The goal of every mobile app is to become part of a user’s daily routine. Consumers can have hundreds of apps on their phone, but their activity on most is little to nonexistent. They only use a small fraction, roughly 20 or so, of those apps on a daily basis. You want your app to be in that select 20. How do you get there? The answer is push notifications.
Push notifications are more effective than email when it comes to keeping your business top of mind with potential customers. They are more user-centric, create a fluent journey back to your brand’s app and, most importantly, they are more engaging.
The Four Stages of App User Behavior
Before you begin thinking about how to craft the perfect push notifications, you need to understand how consumers use and interact with an app. Again, your goal is for your app to be part of each user’s typical routine. Thus, it is important to know which users have already made your app part of that practice, which users need to be re-engaged, and which users are using your app for the first time. In other words, you need to know which of the following 4 stages each individual is at and how you can push them towards becoming a more engaged user.
Newbie – These are new users. They are seeing, testing and using your app for the first time. In the next few hours, days, or maybe just the next few minutes, these ‘newbies’ are going to decide if your app is worth their while. Ultimately, they will choose to uninstall the app and fall into the passerby stage or become an engaged or sometimes-dormant user. Your mission is to push them towards becoming an engaged user rather than uninstalling the app.
Passerby – These are the 23% consumers that used your app a few times, but ultimately moved on. Once they have uninstalled, your ability to send them push notifications is diminished. However, the passerby users still represent some value. First, they hold a wealth of information about what your app didn’t do for them. Secondly, your passersby users are a good way to measure the churn rate of your app and its overall success.
engagedEngaged – These are the people that consider your app one of their favorites. They use it often, most likely daily. They are the single most important group and need to be targeted appropriately to maintain this high level of engagement. Accomplishing this stimulated engagement through push notifications takes quite a bit of creativity.
Dormant – Dormant users are individuals who were once engaged, but have slacked off. Perhaps, they don’t have as much time, got busy with other apps, or maybe just forgot about your app. Whatever the case may be, these users have to be reinvigorated to start using the app once again.
Leveraging Data to Craft Customer-Centric Push Notifications
Your push notifications need to be customer-centric. The type of message you send a dormant user isn’t going to be the same as the one you send to an engaged user. In order to understand your users better and know where along the app behavior spectrum each user is, you need app engagement data.
Data is the best way to get a complete view of each individual app user. Sadly, research shows that 95% of the data within a business goes untapped. After all, every user is different; they interact differently, have different preferences and so on.
The more you know about your users, the more personalized you can make your push notifications. Without personalization, 94% of consumers simply delete what you send.
When it comes to enhancing the customer experience, especially in the mobile environment, these are some useful data points you should tap into:
-Timing -Location -Behavior -Preference -Device
location dataLocation – The most useful application of location-based data is knowing when your customers are physically near your store and offering them a push notification with user-specific deals, info or savings. Keep in mind that nearly half of mobile users opt-in to push notifications that are location based because they find them useful. So make sure you are giving them the information they need.
Airlines have had success offering push notifications to notify travelers of gate changes or delays. Or if a consumer is traveling, you can notify them of store locations near them which they may not be familiar with.
Timing – In the past, companies would send out all of their marketing messages at a certain time of day. The consensus was that most users were active at 9AM, which made it the most attractive time to send these blanket messages. But, most isn’t all and the success of these blanket messages is in a sharp decline. Consumers want to be interacted with on their time, not yours. Knowing when each user is active on the app or browsing their phone is crucial to timing your notifications.
Behavior – As mentioned before, knowing what stage of behavior each user is at is important. You don’t want to push ‘buy now’ notifications on a newbie customer because it will feel like spam. Instead, you should send notifications that inform newbies about different features of the app, which they may not be aware of. This allows you to demonstrate all of the ways your app is useful to this new user and, hopefully, encourage them to stick around. Behaviors also include how an individual uses your app. They may not need or want to use every feature; they may only use it for a single purpose. Thus, you may want to cater notifications specific for those behaviors.
Preferences – Nothing says personalization like catering the mobile experience to your user’s preferences. The Harvard Business Review claims consumers are 40% more likely to buy from businesses who send personalized messages. Customers want the information, products, playlists, images etc. that they personally find most interesting.
For example, if your app delivers sports news, your push notifications should only pertain to a user’s favorite teams. You don’t want to over saturate them with news about teams they aren’t even interested in. The same goes for push notifications about new products or savings.
devices-1Device – This can be an easily overlooked area, but it is very important when you consider the numerous different devices and touchpoints that consumers are using. Most of us, whether we are aware of it or not, have a routine schedule of when we use each of our devices.
We may use our smartphone when we first wake up, but then switch to a tablet device later in the morning, before alternating between an office laptop and our phones again. Push notifications can feel spammy or annoying when a user receives the same notification on each device. When you want to send a notification, you want to send it to the one device that the user is likely using at that moment.
Plan, Experiment, Test and Retest
modifyThe push notifications you send users should enhance the customer experience, not harm it. Every user should be glad they got the notification when they did; it should be valuable to them in some way.
Again, the “spray and pray,” blanket messages are no longer a valid strategy. In fact, they can be dangerous and damaging to the customer experience. The numbers show that people will actually delete your app if they are sent between 6-10 useless messages.
Perfecting and crafting the best push notifications takes some practice. There should be a considerable amount of planning involved. Before sending a message, ask yourself three questions:
What is the goal of this message? (reduce churn, increase mobile purchases, improve cart fulfillment, onboarding, etc.)
Does it achieve that goal?
Does it do so in a way that the user will find interesting and engaging?
You can’t assume that by simply asking these questions, your push notifications will become effective in achieving their objectives. You actually have to measure their success using viable metrics.
Click through rate
Secondary action rate
Number of sales
Sales growth rate
Push notifications have to achieve a lot, with only a limited amount of real estate. Thus, even the slightest change in wordage or timing can make a big difference. To counteract this, you may want to test various messages at the same time to determine how each specific message performs relative to others.
For example, 1800-Flowers tested two similar messages alongside one another. The first message offered a 15% discount to come back and shop again. The other, worded almost identically, didn’t offer the 15% coupon. Surprisingly, the message without the savings deal was more successful at engaging consumers to come back and shop again. Remember, even a failed experiment or a bad push notification can be valuable, from a data standpoint.
Mobile is this generation’s gold rush and push notifications are the path to the west. Those that are willing to utilize data collection tools to craft more well-timed, user-centric notifications while experimenting with new and creative ways to reach these mobile users will quickly find themselves striking gold with mobile.
Snapping photos on the beach and sharing regular status updates has become the norm for communication. Whether it’s announcing your newborn baby or venting over daily frustrations, nearly every social media platform allows you to share your (digitally altered) life seamlessly.
In the business world, social media has become a go-to for brand development and customer care. It’s an easy way to stay in touch with customers and creatively market your products or services. 63% of millennials report staying up to date on brands through social media, and 46% of millennials use social media when making online purchases. Businesses are beginning to digest these statistics and leverage social media’s role in their customers’ lives. Now, 78% of companies report that they have teams dedicated solely to social media.
Though social media fits neatly into an effective marketing campaign, it can be used for much, much more than that.
While traditional support channels hide the customer behind the interaction, leaving you with just an email or phone number, social media support is a real glimpse into your customers’ lives. It can serve as a fantastic customer service tool that adds transparency and humanity your customers appreciate. Questions are often answered for all to see, leaving little room for poor, half-baked responses.
It’s also highly efficient. Tons of businesses use Twitter as a support and customer communication tool. You can educate thousands of followers with one tweet and cut down on emails, calls, and chats. This is especially useful during service outages, product releases, or anytime you expect high demand.
These channels generate valuable feedback too. Facebook and Google+ reviews offer valuable customer happiness insights and add a level of trust for prospective customers researching your business. Positive peer reviews are also more likely to land you a sale than self-marketing, so these rating features go a long way.
Increased engagement means increased customer retention. The more you can get your followers chiming in or clicking through—whether that’s with exclusive deals, helpful content, or genuine and thoughtful messaging—the better your chances of keeping them around. Try spurring discussion on your page or around a specific post by inviting your followers into the conversation. The topic doesn’t have to be your business or services, but something relevant to your industry that builds an association with your brand.
User commentary can shed real light on companies’ strengths and shortcomings. Listen to what people say and incorporate the best feedback into your business/product roadmap. Customers will appreciate their impact and likely offer more constructive criticism down the road. Plus, what better way to improve your products and generate new ideas that your target audience really wants?
The life of a product or service can also be extended by resurfacing older content. For example, if you publish a blog post about a new product, plug last month’s release too. When you re-share “old” news along with fresh content, you can revive interest and catch the eye of users who missed it the first time around (likely a lot of them, since our feeds are so oversaturated these days). And since we’re on the topic, don’t forget the role social media plays in product marketing.
Welcome to the age of online ordering. It’s more convenient and cost-effective than traveling to the store or making a phone call, especially now that the majority of online retailers have free and fast shipping options. As of 2015, 69% of adults shop online monthly and 33% weekly. If you only sell products at your location, you’re limiting your reach considerably. Online and mobile ordering removed the geographical constraints that limit your market.
So how can you leverage social media for online sales? First off, shareability. When you sell online, you can offer discounts to buyers who share a product or service with friends over social media. Groupon is a great example of this: if you get X amount of friends to buy the same deal as you, your purchase is free. Secondly, social media can be used as an independent online shop.Facebook pages can serve as online shops. Pinterest is a prime online commerce tool. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Businesses are no longer only limited to ads and word-of-mouth to find the best employees—top talent can be recruited through social media. Sites like LinkedIn let them share job openings site-wide and conduct better candidate screening. The social element adds a whole new layer to the traditional interview process. You may “connect” with a potential candidate before you ever interview them, gaining access to their network, interests, endorsed skills, and more. This modern transparency is a far cry from old school hiring.
It’s a whole new world for job-seekers too. You can apply for positions right through LinkedIn and even see how many applications have already been submitted, or check out a company’s Glassdoor reviews for a glimpse into their culture. My college newspaper has a Facebook group for its alumni staff; members are constantly sharing openings at their companies and encouraging others to apply. And on any site, users can easily share listings with friends and family who may be interested.
While making connections used to mean circling up at a conference and trading business cards, these days you can gain as much—if not more—networking value from social media. It’s never been easier to engage with other professionals and make highly personal connections that flourish and last. You can also tell a lot from a person’s profile and the content they regularly publish.
LinkedIn is obvious for this purpose, but Twitter is an incredible networking tool as well. Much like walking up to a circle of strangers and introducing yourself, you can start conversations or join active discussions by tweeting at other users. Twitter lacks the “friends-only” vibe of Facebook—its users typically welcome followers they don’t know personally, and the most active often interact daily with people they’ve never met face-to-face.
It’s easy to see what the future might hold with social media. Be your own time machine—stay up on the latest industry trends and anticipate advances to get a head start. Research what customers are saying about competing brands and let that inform your strategy. Better to learn from another company’s mistakes than make them, and better to celebrate their successes as teaching moments too. If used to its full potential, social media can drive success creatively and at little cost to businesses. So log in!
A strong social network can become an asset for any business. Social media offers every business the opportunity to strengthen relationships with their target audience, creating loyal customers and even brand advocates. Exploiting this potential is no easy feat, but can be done if the medium is used well.
Unfortunately, many companies are still not getting the best out of their social media accounts. Yet social media is big business: 74% of all internet users use social networking sites, and for younger adults it’s even more. That’s a huge readjustment of the traditional marketing paradigm.
The fact is, if you want to reach your audience, social media is the place to start. But avoiding the many pitfalls can prove difficult.
Don’t Create Accounts Just Because
Everybody’s doing it, and they’re telling you that your business should be too. It may be great for other businesses, but you just aren’t sure how it can help your company.
If you aren’t clear on the benefits of social media, then the chances are you aren’t going to use it properly, and it could be damaging to your business. Yet, no presence on social media is a poor choice as well. Even if you aren’t on Facebook or Instagram, your audience is, and they’re likely having a conversation about you—without your input.
Take the time to understand social media and what it can do for you, and invest the time and budget needed to do it well.
Don’t Ignore Social Norms
It’s difficult to get the tone right on social media. Each social network has different systems, rules, and social norms. What is acceptable on one network may be a social faux pas on another.
Unless you’re confident on each one, it’s only natural that you will make mistakes. But getting your tone right is a must. Common expectations of corporate behavior include:
Take the time to respond to messages left by customers; social media is about engagement and conversation should be a two way street.
Don’t be needy. Asking for retweets and likes for your content is frowned upon. If the content and messages you are sharing are truly interesting and insightful, shares, likes, and retweets will take care of themselves.
Don’t be afraid to be imperfect (in fact humanizing your brand is a good thing on social media) but be aware you are expected to follow the unwritten rules of social networking behavior.
Don’t be Present on Every Social Network
Spreading yourself too thinly across every social network is a common mistake. You want to be everywhere so you can maximize the opportunity, but cast the net too wide and it will be difficult to network effectively across all channels.
Building a strong network on 1 or 2 social media platforms is much better than having a weak and patchy presence on them all. It’s more difficult for a business to regularly update many social media accounts. Even if you manage to maintain a regular presence, the quality of your content will probably suffer. Being on too many social networks will undermine your brand values, not reinforce them.
Each social network has its own strengths, and they are popular with different audiences. Choose one or two that are best for you. Research them to find out where your audience hangs out and think carefully about what you want to achieve on social media. If you are a creative, youth oriented brand, Instagram or Snapchat may be a great social network for you to engage your audience. Conversely, if you’re a B2B company, LinkedIn may the best choice.
Too many businesses use social media as a broadcasting channel or sales channel. But social media isn’t just a free advertising channel – it has the potential to build a relationship with your target market and improve customer loyalty. But first you have to get your content right.
In order to build your network you must consider your customer’s needs and have a content strategy in place. An unfocused approach that prioritizes quantity of content over quality isn’t going to be successful. If it doesn’t provide value to your audience, they aren’t going to engage with you.
Don’t Ignore Comments
Building a conversation with your customers is the holy grail of social media. But many businesses invest most of their time building awareness and growing their network, rather than having a conversation.
Comments from customers are the beginning of a dialogue with them, the moment at which they give you permission to interact with them. Yet research has found 9 out of 10 social media comments sent to brands are ignored. The same research found people expect a response within 4 hours, and the average is 10 hours.
Take the example of British Airways. In 2013 a customer promoted a tweet to complain about the customer service, the company’s Twitter account was only monitored during office hours so there was a delay in their response, which gave the tweet plenty of time to circulate around the Internet.
It’s ironic that so much energy is spent building a social network to strengthen customer relationships and the opportunity to do so is ignored when it presents itself. Balance building your social presence with strengthening your network and always respond to your customers promptly.
Don’t Remove Negative Comments
We all want to show ourselves in the best light possible, but sweeping negativity under the carpet is simply going to infuriate dissatisfied customers even more. No organization is perfect, but show you are prepared to learn from your mistakes by facing them head on.
People are increasingly expecting a response to their complaints through social media. They won’t call you, they won’t write (not even an email), they will however take to social media to inform you, and everyone in your network. It’s a particularly public form of complaint, and you need to be ready or it could prove costly. United Airlines paid a heavy price for poor complaint management in 2008 when a disgruntled passenger took to YouTube after getting no satisfaction from their complaints procedure.
When this happens, be professional and don’t be defensive. The old adage (some might say cliché) about a complaint being an opportunity is certainly true on social media. You can’t stop people from complaining about you, but you can demonstrate a willingness to learn from any mistakes. Not just to customer with the issue, but to all your customers in your social network.
Don’t be Complacent About Security
All a disgruntled employee needs is your login and password, and they have access to your entire social network, including customers, partners, and your target audience. The potential to damage your reputation and lose business is incalculable.
To avoid this situation happening to you, put in place a system that secures your social media accounts and reduces the potential for reputational damage.
Set up limited permissions for selected staff to update your social media. Managing your social media accounts shouldn’t be left to a low-level employee.
Make sure publishing rights are only given to a select number of people who have responsibility for overseeing the suitability of the content (though many people in the organization should be encouraged to draft content).
Train your staff about social media.
Complacency can lead to public embarrassment; put in place security measures to protect the integrity of your brand.
Don’t Rely on Automating Updates
It’s understandable businesses are inclined to reduce the burden of updating their social media accounts by automating them. But automation tools should be used with caution; they can never be a substitute for true engagement with customers.
Businesses should take care to ensure customer engagement isn’t forgotten in the rush to reduce workload. Without customer engagement you are reducing your social networks to a promotional tool, or a cheap advertising channel, and you won’t get any value out if it. Your customers can’t have a conversation with an automation tool.
Don’t Treat it as a Marketing Function Alone
It’s often the case that businesses fall into the trap of ‘silo thinking’, and social media is no exception. In organizations that still treat social media as a promotional tool, it’s often left in the control of the marketing function.
In recognition of its increasing importance as a means of managing the customer relationships, many organizations are now taking a decentralized approach to reflect customer expectations. Your social network is now a sales channel, a promotional channel, a customer service channel, and a market research channel. To get the best out of it, and to meet your customers’ expectations, move it out of the marketing department and make it an integral part of your customer relationships.
The place of social media in business strategy has evolved, and it has moved from just a marketing device to a tool that’s of strategic importance to your company and its brand. Many companies haven’t embraced its full potential.
Organizations need to remember customers are using social media as a place to discuss and complain about brands whether the company is engaging with them or not.
Asking for the how much it costs to make an app is rather vague.
It is like asking, ‘what’s the price of a car? Well, what kind of car are you trying to buy? A used one with high mileage or a brand new, exotic, luxury car? The same questions can be said of mobile apps.
If you have ever searched for the cost of creating an app (perhaps that is what brought you here), you probably got a lot of different answers.
The answers can range anywhere from a few thousand dollars to a few hundred thousand dollars.
Why? Because mobile development involves a lot of different variables so the final price is going to change depending on those factors.
The cause of the sporadic price estimates of mobile apps is the technology is relatively new and evolving. For example, new hybrid app development technology caused the average cost of app development for a small business to drop from $49,000 to $38,500 in February of 2015.
As new tools and strategies emerge, the price of producing an app goes down because developers are able to leverage these tools to reduce their time frames and thereby the overall cost of their labor. In other words, the more mobile evolves, the easier it is becoming to make apps, which means affordable alternatives are appearing.
In fact, plug and play development technology offers the ability for a small business to build their own app, with dozens of powerful premade functions, clean templates and more.
To understand the cost of creating an app in detail, we will explore the different variables that affect cost, as well as how a simple app maker solution may help.
In-House Vs. Outsourced Solutions Costs
In most cases, we know that doing things in-house can be better, but is way more expensive. This is exactly why many companies turn to mobile development firms. But, that doesn’t mean the off-shore or in-house conversation is over because some of these firms don’t have all of their own resources in-house.
They may have their design teams immediately available on hand but outsource their engineering and development needs elsewhere. This saves them money, but you’ll still end up with an expensive “in-house” development team.
To help protect yourself from being taken advantage of by mobile development firms, you have to do your due diligence. Since building an app from the ground up is a big expense, it will be well worth your time (and budget) to do your homework.
Ask any prospective development team or agency a lot of questions.
Who will be working on my app?
What apps have they worked on before?
How much will the app cost?
How much time will the app take to create?
How will you make my app? Native code or hybrid code?
How much does it cost to create the iPhone app?
How much does it cost to create the Android app?
Who handles development and engineering?
How do you calculate app development cost?
How can I get the cost down on my mobile app?
What is the average price to create an app with you?
Then once you get into the overall price, try breaking it down into stages of development with more questions.
Planning, designing, engineering features, app infrastructure, mobile app administration, testing & Q/A costs, and launching your app to the app stores — what’s are the cost of these stages of the app development process? Again, ask a lot of questions.
How much will the cost to plan the app be?
What is the cost of designing the app?
How much will it cost to engineering the features?
What will the ongoing infrastructure cost?
Are there any mobile app administration costs involved?
How much will the testing of the app cost?
Then finally, are there costs to deploy your mobile app?
If you aren’t satisfied with the answers or they refuse to let you communicate with individual members, you are better off taking your business elsewhere.
Waterfall Vs. Agile Costs
The main differences between these two common app development strategies are planning and speed. Waterfall developments make a detailed plan of each process, how long every step will take, the costs, etc.
This, as you would expect, extends the timeline by a bit. However, there is a lot of value in planning. At the end of the project, you will have neat records of each process and how long they took. Not only does this make it easy to improve the development and design process for any future apps, but you will also have a much better idea of the costs and timeline.
Apps created with the agile strategy, on the other hand, use a lot less planning. Developers gets right to work and move quickly. To someone who desires control and organization, the lack of structure in this approach may be alarming, but it has its perks.
Aside from reaching your launch date sooner, the agile approach is also more adaptable and according to the data, this approach is three times more successful than a waterfall approach. Since developers code and design on the fly, it is easier to change directions to meet emerging needs, whereas the waterfall approach is stuck in its stone form, planned structure.
There are drawbacks to moving quickly, though. Costs can easily pile up because developers are moving in quick spurts. Before you know it, the project may be grossly over budget. If you are under a tight deadline (perhaps you want to get an app released before the holiday shopping season), you may have little choice but to choose the agile approach.
Fixed App Cost Vs. Hourly App Development Cost
Typically, but not always, the type of pay system is based on the above development approaches. Waterfall developments are more likely to be a fixed fee because everything is planned ahead of time. During the planning stage, the client (you) and the developers reach an agreed price to spend on the design and planning phase and another price for the actual development of the app.
Sometimes, as you change and tweak your process, the fixed price has to be altered. A lot of firms will use work orders to track the costs of these changes. Thus, your ‘fixed’ price is actually not fixed and can be greatly affected, depending on the number of work orders needed.
To top it off, after your first release, you will need to update your app as well. This price tag can range between $70-$100/hour after you launch.
Agile structures always follow an hourly or labor rate that pays based on the amount of work or effort needed to produce. Before starting, it is important that you fully understand these rates and how they are tracked, especially if it is hourly.
There are several classifications of developers. These range from independent contractors up through an extravagant class. Depending on what class of developer you hire, your hourly rate can range anywhere between $75/hour up through $800/hour.
A good development firm will have tracking software in place that will allow you to see the progress made and how much time is being put into each stage. While choosing to go with an hourly or labor rate is generally more expensive, a lot of people find the quality is higher because it encourages developers to continue working diligently, whereas a fixed price can sometimes cause them to make shortcuts to hasten the deadline, as they are being paid a set amount, no matter how much work they end up putting in.
In either case, you have to be prepared for your developer to go over budget. On average, you will spend about 20% more than you expected.
The Affordable App Builder Alternative
It is easy to look at all of these variables and simply see dollar signs zooming by, but don’t be discouraged. Many of these costly variables are only associated with building an app for the ground up and there is an alternative solution in the forms of content management systems for app development.
You’ve all seen the commercials for DIY websites that look and act professionally. You can do the same with your app. With a small team of people who are familiar with the basics of technology, you can have your app up and running in a few days.
Many of these app builder solutions are responsible for putting high functioning, quality apps in the hands of over 200,000 small businesses, at an affordable price. If you’ve ever wondered how your local pizzeria could possibly afford such a clean looking mobile app, an affordable app builder is the answer. So, you can stop spreading those rumors that they must be “connected.”
Why Makes a DIY App Builder so Affordable?
Instead of building every app from the ground up, an app building content management system will offer a wide range of features, design templates and other options that allow you to piece together your own app, using a platform that has already been created, tested and proven effective.
Thus, you don’t have to tear any hair out over deciding between which development firm to choose; you are the developer! With pre-built features and templates, no programming expertise is required; you don’t need any background in mobile development. And, a high-quality DIY app builder offers an expansive library of webinars, step-by-step guides, and helpful articles to turn anyone into their own app design pro.
Waterfall or agile approach? You build your app on your own time. The beauty of choosing an app creation platform is the comfort knowing that the app will be bug and glitch free. Once you are ready to hit that publish button, you are all set; there is no testing or planning necessary. In addition, the cost of building an app dramatically goes down when using an “out of the box” solution.
And, as the mobile app industry progresses and evolves, your mobile app continues to update and evolve with it—so there’s no paying for upgrades. Again, driving the cost of your app down because you don’t have to consistently update it. By staying current with emerging trends, a DIY mobile app creation platform will continue to offer all the features and tools your customers are looking for in a mobile app. So, you never have to worry about having an outdated app or worry about the cost of your app going over budget.
The Bottom Line of How Much Does an App Cost?
From a price standpoint, a pre-built app creation platform blows the costs of a ground-up, custom app out of the water. Custom apps can cost as much as $500,000 or higher with a median price between $37,913 and $171,450 as the median price.
With a DIY app builder, the mobile app you build only costs a small monthly fee of around $59/month to maintain, which is likely to include all the continued support, tools and updates offered with your mobile app. A lot of companies forget that the cost of an app is ongoing due to maintenance and keeping the app up to date. By using a solution like
So is there an actually bottom line when it comes to the cost of developing an app? It all depends on what vehicle you take to get there. If you are looking for a luxury app complete with customizations beyond what most business need, you can expect to pay a hearty hourly fee anywhere between $75-$800/hour.
The data shows that most often the final number comes somewhere between $39,913 for a small simple up, but it can reach well beyond the $500,000 mark.
Keep in mind those custom solutions are not necessary for all businesses. If you are looking to build an app so that your business can compete in the mobile market, there are solutions out there that can get you in the game for as little as $99/month.
Mistakes are critical to business growth. We learn the most when we’re faced with trickier problems and customer complaints that force us to get creative. Whether you’re a booming tech leader like Facebook or a local mom-and-pop, your team should always have an ear to the ground, accepting and encouraging feedback from happy and unhappy customers alike.
Below, we share just how customer criticism can transform and save your business.
You Hear Your Customers’ Wants First-hand
Maybe you talk to your customers all the time or, as is often the case, just when they’re dissatisfied. While these “negative” conversations can be daunting, they’re far more valuable for than the pleasant ones. Unhappy customers put growth opportunity on a serving platter. They tell you about their issue and often hint (or state outright) the outcome they would have preferred, whether it’s a product improvement, a service offering, better communication, or all of the above.
The more you hear this kind of feedback, the clearer your business’ holes become and the closer you are to plugging them. Just remember that many customers never complain. In fact, 96% of them don’t. The majority simply leave. So you have to ask for feedback and work toward building better customers who want to give it, otherwise you won’t hear the good, the bad, and the ugly until it’s too late.
You See Your Business in a New Light
You go to work every day and stare at a computer screen, run around helping customers, or checking off an endless and ever-growing to-do list. You start to form a routine. After some time, it’s easy to grow so close to the work that you put distance between yourself and your customers. You must make mental edits to your approach, especially if you want to grow business with customer service.
Criticism forces you to take a hard look at outdated and ineffective practices that may be causing trouble in your customer relationships. It gives you a chance to revamp the go-to techniques you use on a daily basis. Maybe your business hours are problematic for customers with full-time jobs, or you’re not offering a service in high demand. Your customers’ feedback can help point out the obvious but overlooked problems that need to be rectified.
Just Listening Boosts Customer Retention
Criticism isn’t always fun to hear, but it just might help you save a customer from leaving. When someone raises a complaint, start by empathizing. Let them know that you understand where they’re coming from and you’ll take the initiative to help. Wait for them to finish, then try repeating back what they just said so they know you’re listening.
That word is key: listen. Remind yourself that you need to listen, not just hear. Take notes if you want to, and attempt to come up with a solution right then and there or give them a clear, reasonable time that you’ll get back to them. If you offer a solution upfront, your customer is less likely to cut ties. And even if you can’t solve the problem right away, once your customer voices their issue they’ll be more invested in that future solution.
Feedback Can Ignite Action
Criticism can give you that little push you need to make a change. When your employees are constantly hearing similar feedback, that’s when you know it’s time to take action. Meet with your team and determine where the majority of complaints or problems arise and come up with a strategy to fix the issue. Making these feedback sessions a top priority adds credibility in the eyes of your customers and your employees.
That employee bit is key. If you run a business with customer-facing employees, they need to be following your lead and soliciting feedback regularly. Instill an attitude of proactive customer service company-wide and you’ll see a much bigger impact. Your team will begin paying more attention to customers’ needs as well as what’s best for the company.
If companies like Apple and Microsoft disregarded their customers’ feedback, they never would have made it to the top echelons of tech. Their products and services have adapted to changing consumer preferences and needs thanks to constant analysis and action. Though their consumer studies budget probably dwarfs a mid-sized company’s annual revenue, smaller operations can take small measures to start listening that open up a realm of possibilities for growth. Don’t forget that you are where you are because of your loyal customers, so take their criticism as a thank you to your business.