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In today’s competitive business environment, we’re always on the lookout for new ways to attract and retain customers. We invite them in with eye-catching offerings and fight to keep them loyal with great experiences and smart product reinventions.

But it’s never certain that your efforts will gather the crowds that you dream of, or please existing clients enough to make them stay. If only there was something more you could do to make customers keep coming back.

Here’s one solution you may consider trying out: giving your customers a greater say with how your business attends to their needs. This should work because they know what they want better than you do. But there are other reasons why this is a smart strategy to adopt.

Why Considering Your Customers’ Opinion is Important

Apart from the obvious benefit of knowing what you should be selling to them, letting clients into the decision making rooms (albeit indirectly) will give them a sense of co-ownership of your brand. They’ll feel like they have a stake in what you do.

You may find this idea a little unpleasant because it’s your business and you don’t want others telling you how to run it. But this reasoning dies at the feet of today’s customer-centric commercial environment, where consumers are demanding more than just a buying-and-selling relationship. If you’re not listening to them, you won’t know what they want; and if you don’t know what they want, you’ll sell them stuff they’re not interested in. That’s a recipe for a failed enterprise.

Of course, you can decide which suggestions you’ll accept, or if you’ll take any suggestions at all. Whatever you do, try to strike a balance between meeting clients’ needs and maintaining your enterprise’s viability (because there are instances in which these two objectives don’t coincide).

When customers feel like they have a stake in your business, they will be more eager to invite others to experience the service you offer- because it’s something they have taken part in creating or fostering.

How to Give Your Customers a Greater Voice

Here’s how you give your customers more of a say in your business- and make them feel recognized in the process.

1. Let Your Messaging Invite them In

Your messaging on all your platforms should invite your target audience to take part in crafting your brand. It doesn’t have to be an explicit call to action. Just be sure that your adverts, social media updates, and blog posts are continually attending to potential customers’ concerns, filling them in on information that they’ll be interested in, or just emphasizing the value your company places on them.

2. Encourage Feedback

Have a dedicated email address for clients to send their questions, comments, or complaints to. Set up a suggestions box at the exit points or other strategic positions of your store or office location, so that visitors or clients can drop their written suggestions with you.

When you remind them that they can always communicate their thoughts about your products and services, also show them evidence that those contributions are taken seriously and acted upon.

3. Make them Ambassadors of Your Product

You could introduce a referral program which allows existing customers to gain from inviting other customers to your business. We have some information about this in our article about setting up a customer referral program.

While this doesn’t elicit direct feedback from your buyers, it will encourage them to suggest improvements to your product that’ll make such referral programs more successful in the future. Some of the ideas they share with you will be from those they have tried to get on board your business.

4. Follow Through on Complaints and Suggestions

What happens when your customers know that you address complaints and suggestions quickly? They’ll be willing to share more ideas with you. They will also feel like their thoughts are taken into consideration in your company’s decision-making process which in turn creates a sense of belonging and ownership that keeps them engaged with your brand.

5. Initiate Conversations

Instigate two-way communication with real-time web chats, social media, and instant messaging platforms. Let your followers on these channels share and respond to updates and other information related to the business-customer relationship. But you don’t have to restrict communication to this; just keep it professional and customer-centered.

6. Allow them a Vote on New Products and Services

If you produce and sell fruit juice, you could invite your customers to choose between a number of pack designs for your product. You can do the same if you make fragrances, biscuits, T-shirts, or any other product to which this may apply.     

This move will get your customers feeling excited and valued. It could also prove to be effective publicity for your business if it’s featured in the right media platforms.

Final Words

When we give customers a greater say, you’re inviting them to take part in shaping your brand story. And when they get on board this way, they’re less likely to disembark than they would if they were simply being sold things all the time.

In the end, this is about building lasting, mutually beneficial relationships. It’s what you should be concerned about if you’re aiming to sustain your business over the long term.

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This article was first published on 1st August 2019


Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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