This past semester has been filled with an abundance of quality education regarding all aspects of internet entrepreneurship. Through this last post, I want to focus on a few highlights in which I believe are high priorities when gaining and keeping your customers through the longevity of your company.
- The Product: The value in which your product holds will determine the course that your business takes. Building value around anything can be difficult, but when it comes to what your investing your time and money into, your product HAS to be something you believe in and in return make your customers believe in. Convincing your customer to trust your brand is far from easy, and whenever you don’t have trust in your brand it’s painfully clear. In today’s internet marketspace, it’s a place where everyone sells everything and most consumers will turn directly towards the companies they’ve built trust in when making any online purchasing decisions. If your truly going to build a company up to gain consumer loyalty and trust, than it needs to be clear that the company itself believes in what their selling. Find a product that differentiates itself in a way in which you believe you can capitalize on meeting needs in which other companies fail to do. From there, it’s all about building brand image and trust through all interactions you have with your customer. A great quote that comes to mind is, “Customer service shouldn’t be a department, but should rather be the entire company”. The product is always important, but the way you handle delivering that product, and build the customer experience (from the way the customer checks out on your website to how they open the product at their doorstep) is what truly will set you apart (on the product side).
- Keep your word: A common problem amongst digital startups is companies end up positioning themselves to promote their brand to millions of potential clients and customers, but when the actual customer base beings to form everything changes. Customers end up receiving something they weren’t exactly promised throughout the marketing stage or even worse a business owner fails to meet a “money-back guarantee” promise. Nothing can shatter your companies brand and reputation worse than your company not keeping it’s word, and not meeting the expectations that they’ve set in place. When building your online business it’s important to always reach to grow and innovate, but not at the expense of your customers trust. If you truly can’t deliver something than don’t bother talking about it or promoting it because it only instills unreliability in your customers mind. All relationships are built on one mutual factor and that’s trust; don’t lose it.
- Protect Your Image: The general theme of this entire post is to build a trusted image around an awesome product, and then PROTECT IT! In an online business, you as the owner are the brand image (to an extent) and what guides your customers to the validity of your business. Let me explain…. When we as consumers walk into a brick-and-mortar store we see all the products around us, people checking out in lines, and many tangible factors that allow us to associate a sense of trust and brand equity through our physical experience. When shopping online the entire environment is changed, and suddenly the only validating factors we see are found solely through the content we find or are led to regarding that company. If there’s very little to be found regarding a company, suddenly we lack a sense of trust and opt out for a larger, well-known online retailer. However, if we land on a website and see a fabulously built website, a genuine product that has many positive reviews, pictures, and content built around it, and then can see that the owners of the company are respected and well-known on the internet, then suddenly our trust and value of this company elevates. Now all of these things take time to build up, and surely don’t happen through a few sales, but they do happen through excellent customer service, keeping your word, and building a seamless customer experience tailored specifically to your ACTUAL customers. Constantly look to improve the customer experience, release content to increase awareness, and never back down on what your promise!