Due to seasonal shifts in customer preferences or needs, revenue often slows for many businesses during the summer months. While you can use leading edge sales methods to keep revenue consistent as well as find new customers, this quiet period may also be ideal for working on other aspects of your business.
Summer is a perfect time to focus on improving customer relationships and creating personalized experiences that lead to greater revenue in the long term. "Get to Know Your Customers Day" is an opportunity to show your customers how much you value them by doing more to get to know them. Here are some ideas.
1. Invite customers for a company tour.
Having customers visit your headquarters or take a factory tour provides a way to share what you're doing. Also, it opens lines of communication so they can ask questions and offer direct feedback. These insights add more “color" and “detail" to the customer personas you may have already created.
To prepare for customers to visit, it's good to plan in advance, including sending out invites. Additionally, do the following:
- Determine best times and budget for client visits. Make sure tours feel personalized, without too many visiting at once.
- Be sure staff members are aware of the customer visit and know what to say or to whom specific customer questions should be directed.
- Have a host designated for the tour along with someone who can take note of the questions and feedback for later analysis.
- Prepare refreshments, marketing collateral, and, if appropriate, a small “swag bag" of samples or products for visitors to take home.
2. Participate in local events.
Local events like farmer's markets, Chamber of Commerce mixers, fairs, trade shows and conferences, networking socials, and citywide seasonal parties all offer opportunities for you to come face-to-face with your customer base.
Interacting with your customers should be fun, reflect positively on your brand and potentially generate real-time sales.
Meeting customers in this relaxed social environment may result in “chats" that offer detailed opinions and immediate feedback. Customer comments may also help guide development of successful local campaigns that incorporate coupons, promotions or an on-demand component. To take advantage of these “meet and greet" events, try these ideas:
- Research upcoming local events for ideal times when you can register and participate.
- Create an inviting booth or space where customers want to stop and stay awhile. This might mean adding some type of complimentary service like a chair massage or virtual reality session. Or, if you offer some type of product that ties into food and drink samples, this is another way to draw a crowd.
- Have company experts on hand to answer questions and gather information on those who stop by. If possible, prepare a very brief survey with an incentive coupon or sample for booth visitors.
3. Organize a focus group.
A focus group offers a more intimate setting to get insights from customers on what they think of an existing or new product or service. During these in-person conversations, customers may also share pain points they want solved.
Focus groups often let you dig deeper into customer motivation than surveys do. These groups provide context about why patrons like or don't like something related to your company. This may include thoughts about what you sell as well as their experiences with your brand. Here are some focus group best practices:
- Focus group size may vary based on what type of information you want to gather. Anywhere between 10 and 20 people should be a manageable group that offers significant usable data.
- Screen the participants in advance to get a sample that represents your overall target customer and includes any sub-segments.
- Select a facilitator who can lead and manage the discussion, keep the participants on track and hold the session to the time allotted. You may want to have multiple facilitators for larger focus groups, especially if you need to break those into smaller groups at some point.
- Choose a comfortable location like a conference room where participants have good seating and refreshments.
- Prepare questions in advance but be ready to ask some on-the-fly questions if certain responses elicit unexpected topics.
- Select a transcription method and get permission from the focus group members if you plan to record it.
4. Host live online social video town halls.
Not every tactic for getting to know customers has to be an offline experience. The advent of live video on social media channels like Facebook or the chat format on Twitter provide virtual ways to reach out to a larger audience. In addition, this format is ideal for folks who can't make it to an in-person event.
Invite the social media audience to send questions before or during the online event. Promote the event across all channels to encourage as many participants as possible.
5. Create a pop-up shop or co-branded event for customers.
Interacting with your customers should be fun, reflect positively on your brand and potentially generate real-time sales. All of this is possible when you design a customer event like a pop-up shop or kiosk. Here, you can extend the interaction beyond just a local event that lasts a few days.
Or, if you don't want to invest in these events extensively, there are co-branding opportunities that let you share costs and collaborate with another company. This approach can increase your exposure to audiences that don't normally get a chance to interact with your brand.
One at a Time
Don't take on all these ideas at once. Take your time, optimize your interaction with customers and enjoy getting to know them, one by one.
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