Avoid The Sharks

They hang around your web site. Not buying, just lurking. Checking out what you're doing and what your target audience is doing. They wait patiently looking for any opening you may accidently give and then they strike. Who are they? Your competitors and they're going after your customers but you can avoid hearing the theme from "Jaws". How?

1. Ask

Your target audience may or may not like your web site. The same goes for your newsletter, products, services, affiliate programs etc but the only way to know is to ask. The feedback you get from your customers can show you things you may not have been aware of or emphasize what you already knew. Either way asking for their input not only helps you but makes them feel more connected. A major step to building a good relationship.

2. Stay In Touch

Contact your customers on a regular basis. Offer them a free e-zine subscription. Ask if they want to be updated by e-mail when you make changes to your web site. After every sale follow-up to see if they are satisfied with their purchase.

3. Friendly Web Site

Make your web site easy to navigate. Have a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page to explain anything that might be confusing. Use an electronic survey to find out how to make your web site more customer friendly.

4. Easy And Free Communication

Make it easy for your customers to contact you. Offer as many contact methods as possible. Hyperlink your e-mail address so people won't have to type it. Offer toll free numbers for phone and fax contacts. Getting in touch with you should never turn into a Kafka novel.

5. Teach Your Employees

If you have employees, make sure they know and use your service policy. Give your employees bonuses or incentives to practice excellent customer service. Tell employees to be flexible with each individual since each person has different concerns, needs and wants. That goes for your employees also. Give them guidelines but encourage them to come up with their own ideas for customer satisfaction.

6. Impress

Give your audience more than they expect. Send thank you gifts to lifetime customers. E-mail them online greeting cards on holidays or birthdays. Award bonuses or discounts to those who make a big purchase. One simple way to impress your customers is to follow through. If you say you're going to do something, by all means do it. Broken promises can lead to bad feelings.

7. Above All, Be Nice

Always be polite. Use the words Please, Thank You, and Your Welcome. Be polite to your customers even if they are being irate with you. We're all human and nobody likes getting yelled at but stay calm, admit your mistake and apologize. Move to correct the mistake quickly and make it up to your customers in a big way. This approach will satisfy the majority of people. Why? Because most customers just want an acceptable resolution to their problem. A little humility goes a long way.

Follow these steps and watch your competitors swim off into the horizon... with empty stomachs.

Daryl Campbell owns and operates Win The Market - Coaching, ideas, tools and fun. Build and Protect your business at http://winthemarket.com

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