Five Tips for Strengthening Customer Relationships

Providing quality services and products are essential for any small business to grow. But in this uncertain economy, customers need and want more.  Bob Pearson, vice president of communities and conversations at Dell offers tips on using social media to build customer relationships and take your business to the next level. Pearson addressed the room of entrepreneurs at the Fourth Annual Small Business Summit hosted by Prime Strategies and SmallBizTechnology.com in New York City.

1.    Know where the conversation is occurring. Find out where and in what context you or your company’s name appears online. Take advantage of Google Alerts, Netvibes, Yahoo Pipes, Google Reader, Technorati, and other online resources to find out how and where your company’s name appears on the Web. Find out where the traffic is that matters. Who are these people that are talking about your company online? Are these people that are talking about your company on your media list? If you’ve generated interest in your company, find out why and specifically, what people are talking about.

2.    Know where your first impression is formed. Chances are a significant portion of your Website’s traffic does not come from typing in the url. “Your homepage is Google,” Pearson says. “When you search your brand [online], says ‘who’s helping me build my image and how do I reach out to them?’”

3.    Leverage “crowd source” knowledge. “Would you rather do a focus group with 10 people or listen to 100,000 people debate ideas for a dew months and ask them questions throughout the process?” Pearson says. Join online communities and start a community on your Website. Listen to what visitors/customers have to say.

4.    Solve common issues with your customers. You’ve probably seen a Yahoo Answers link come up in as a search result on a specific topic. Dell has used to the site to put in answers about product questions. Utilize the Intuit community to reach out to customers or potential customers about your product.

5.    Have conversations with customers. New media is all about engagement. Talk to your customers. Listen to what their saying and respond. It’ll let them know your listening and taking their opinions into consideration.

Renita Burns is the editorial assistant at BlackEnterprise.com.

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