Generating Good Word-of-Mouth about Your Business

Word-of-mouth, whether it’s done verbally person-to-person or electronically over the internet, has a significant impact on the success of your business.

What people are saying about your business is  important because others will be influenced by the opinion and experiences of those that have had  interaction with your company.

Word-of-mouth also has great influence because it’s timely. It occurs  when people are most interested in what you have to offer. Think about if you were interested in  finding a good hotel in a city you were planning to visit. Your interest in a hotel is now at its highest, so  you might go online to check reviews and what others are saying about hotels in that area. You might  also ask for the opinion of someone you know that has been there recently.

We all tend to rate the  opinion of others that have used a service higher than any amount of advertising or marketing from  the business. While it may seem that you can’t control what others say about your business, there are  things you can do to put the odds in your favor.

  1.  Make them part of the processProvide a way for your customers to communicate with you whether through Facebook, Twitter,  or some other means. Listen to what they say and provide appreciation for their feedback. Take  suggestions into consideration and make changes if necessary.

    Although you may not want to hear  things that are negative about your business, it’s important for you to know about it so you can correct  it. It is also important to know what you’re doing right. Customers will rally around a business that  listens to them, supports them, and makes them feel like they are contributing.

  2. Help Them Tell the Story of Their PurchaseGive your customers a way to share their story with others. Have them share their photos on your social  sites. Give them a way to tell an interesting story about their interaction with your service. Post these  stories on your website. Get creative.

    Potential customers will care more about the results that were  achieved by others and the good experiences that they had with you than the features of what you  offer. Make it easy for them to find.

  3. Don’t Force ItWord-of-mouth should be spontaneous. While you should be making it easy for your customers to  share their experiences with others, don’t make it uncomfortable. You can’t force people to share  even when they have a positive experience with you.

    A couple of years ago I had a very positive result  from some work that I hired a company to do. I was pleased and they were proud. I was more than  happy to provide a testimonial, but they wanted me to play a bigger part and be featured in ads and  other marketing material. I didn’t want to do that and they didn’t want to take no for an answer. It got  uncomfortable and the positive experience I had started to fade.

    Ask them once; provide a way, and  then stop.

  4. Don’t Try to Tell Them What to Say
    If you try to control what others say about your business, you will fail. I see it online all of the time.

    Someone posts a negative review of a company and then a representative of that business will respond  with anger, criticism of the poster, or worse yet they will resort to name calling. I get it that sometimes  things go wrong in your business that’s not really your fault. However, the truth is no one really cares.

    Your customer just wants things to go smoothly. It’s your job to make that happen to the best of your  ability. When you work on it, there is usually an answer that will make a negative customer experience  positive again. Do the best you can to make every customer experience positive and let the word-of- mouth script itself.

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How to Create Fiercely Loyal Customers

If you don’t already recognize the benefits of building bonds with your customers, here’s a sobering statistic. Most companies lose 10% or more of their customers each year. Acquiring new customers to take their place can cost five times more than the cost of keeping current customers satisfied.

Furthermore, the profit on retained customers tends to increase over time through subsequent  purchases, referrals, reduced cost to service, and the likelihood that they’ll buy more premium priced  services. You can’t afford not to keep your customers happy and loyal.

Here are the four ways you can increase customer loyalty:

1. Listen to Your Customer
You should provide a way for your customers to provide you with feedback and you should be plugged  in to what they’re saying at all times. Whether it’s through your Facebook fan page or a special club you  create, you should be offering a place where your customers can communicate with you and you can  communicate with them. Quickly respond to questions and comments and thank them for any input  that they give you. You can reward their participation by making them the first ones that you contact  about any special deals and keeping them up to date about any changes. It is also a good place to be a  customer advocate by answering questions that they have about your industry.

2. Develop a Loyalty Program
Loyalty programs like airline frequent flyer programs provide rewards for customers that purchase frequently. Customers that are loyal to you should be given perks that wouldn’t be available to all of your customers.

You don’t have to be a big business to start a loyalty program. You can offer special access, discounts, or complimentary services for your best customers. It doesn’t even have to be a  formal program. Remember to keep track of your customers and what they purchase as well as the number and type of referrals they send you. Then you can reward them appropriately.

3. Personalize It
Strong bonds are created when you personalize your communication with your customers. Technology  makes it easy to create and keep a database on your customers with as much information on them as you can gather. Any offers you send to them should be customized. Use the information that you have on them to send offers that they would be interested in, based on their previous purchase activity and interests.

You can also personalize any emails or letters that go out. Really, there’s no excuse anymore to ever send an email or letter without your customers name on it.

4. Make it Hard to Leave
The truth is the harder it is to leave, the less likely we are to switch companies.
For instance, think about  your bank. We now have direct deposits going in to our bank account, drafts coming out, ATM cards,  debit cards, and the list goes on.

It makes my head hurt thinking about what I’d have to go through to switch to another bank. So, unless something goes wrong, they’ve probably got me for life. I don’t even  shop out what other banks are offering.

You’re probably the same way. It’s time to start looking for  ways to make it more trouble than it’s worth to not do business with you. I don’t want you to hold your  customers hostage (think cell phone contracts) I just want you to make it so much easier to do business with you that they don’t want to switch to another company. In our business, we can keep extensive information on our customers so that when they call, we already know their preferences. We make it  easier to do business with us than another company. When they call us, we already know their likes and  dislikes and what’s important to them.

Now is the time to start planning and developing ways to keep your customers happy and faithful. When  you focus on customer loyalty, your business will start to thrive.

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