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Who are your Clients?

How to learn more about you online customers

Summary:

Most of the small business customers I talk to know they can use their website to communicate information TO their customers but some miss the opportunity to use their site to gain more information FROM their customers. Regardless of the industry you are in – knowing your customers is critical to meeting their needs. Here’s some easy ways to improve your online (and offline) customer service by learning more about your customer base.

Keywords: Customer Service, Online customers, Customer information

Use online tools for customer analytics – There are some really good online tools – some of which are free – that will offer more information about where your customers are coming from. One great example is Google Analytics (http://www.google.com/analytics/) which offers a free program showing how people found your site, how they explored it, and how you can enhance their visitor experience. This helps you improve your website return on investment, increase conversions, and make more money on the web. It tracks visitors through your site, and will keep track of the performance of your marketing campaigns Adwords campaign, email campaigns, or any other advertising program. With this information, you’ll know which keywords are really working, which ad text is the most effective, and where your visitors are dropping off during the conversion process.

Just ask them – Another easy way to collect info about your customers is to ask them for demographic information as part of your site. Some websites have a visitor book that invites visitors to sign in. Others utilize forms to ask users for their information including sex, where they live, age etc.

Another option is to implement a feedback survey after your customers purchase a product or service. An example of a great (and inexpensive) survey application is SurveyMonkey (http://www.surveymonkey.com/). This online application enables you to create a survey, link the survey to your site and easily collect and analyze data. Apart from requesting much needed information on how to improve your service, you can ask your customers questions about themselves. Questions can range from education to marital status to income to number of children in the household.

Open up the conversation with customers – Open, frequent interactions with your customers are also possible via your website and it is a great way to learn more about your customer base. One option is a community board that requires membership. Before visitors can join the community they would have to create an account requiring key demographics. Please note, however, that many users are wary about leaving their personal information online. Again, privacy notification is key to getting better information. Let users know that all their information is kept confidential, for internal marketing purposes only, and won’t be sold to other companies.

Community boards are a great way to gather customer input but they do need to be carefully monitored and facilited. If this sounds like more of a time drain than you can afford, another option is to offer a newsletter, tips or other regular communication that can be emailed to site visitors. To receive the this communication, visitors can sign-up and provide information about themselves. Once again, make sure they know that their information remains internal and that they have the option to opt-out if they no longer want to receive these communications from you.

Measure phone calls generated by your site – Finally, you should prominently display your phone number on your site (For example, on www.Register.com we include our phone number on virtually every webpage and encourage customers to call us). You can measure your site’s performance, in terms of generating phone calls in four steps:

  • Get a separate 800 number for larger ads, campaigns, or even the keywords you want to measure. Ideally, set yourself up with a virtual PBX service, like VirtualPBX. (http://www.virtualpbx.com/)
  • Include the appropriate phone number on the contact page, in any ads you’re running, in newsletters and marketing collateral that can be downloaded on your website (you can easily track this via an analytics program of what’s being downloaded from the site) Do not point any other non-Internet campaigns at that phone number!
  • Keep track of calls to that number in a log. Record the call, the first and last name of the caller, and their number. If they don’t want to give you that information, still record the fact that you received the call.

Like any Sales or Marketing 101 class professor will tell you, it’s important to keep detailed records of the interaction for the first call to purchase – so you can track the revenue a specific ad, campaign or keyword is generating.

Sandy Ross
Customer Service Guru
Sandy RossLearn how to use the web to serve your online and offline customers better.

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