5 Ways You're Alienating Your Customers Credit: Unhappy customer image via Shutterstock

In today's ultracompetitive landscape, attracting customers isn't enough for small businesses to succeed.

In order to prosper, businesses need to not only draw customers in — they need to hold onto them once they do so.

Gary Edwards, chief customer officer for Empathica, a provider of social Customer Experience Management (CEM) programs, said businesses unfortunately often find ways to shut out their shoppers, instead of keeping them close.

[Old-Fashioned Customer Service Goes Digital in 2013]

Edwards offer five ways businesses are alienating their customers and how to change those habits:

  • You're not listening to them: A recent Empathica study of big-box retail shoppers found that less than half of those surveyed believe that their feedback is actually used to improve the customer experience. Businesses shouldn't leave customers in the dark about how they'll use their feedback. They want a two-way conversation and to know that their feedback is being acted upon in a way that will drive change.  
  • You're not rewarding them: Everyone appreciates a "thank you" every now and then, and a business's customers are no exception. Loyalty programs that allow customers to earn points each time they visit are a great way to acknowledge loyal fans and reward repeat visits. Outside of loyalty programs, businesses can incentivize customers to return by offering coupons on their receipts or sending emails with targeted offers and promotions. Brands that don't reward customer loyalty leave consumers with little reason to choose them over another similar business.
  • You don't know them: With today's technology, it's easy to collect and organize customer data to address aspects of the business that need improvement. When you don't have the practices or technology in place to improve the customer experience, you miss out on loyalty-driving opportunities to differentiate yourself from the competition. For example, you may not know that customers are waiting 20 minutes in line at an understaffed store location or that your employees aren't making helpful suggestions. With the right technology, you can scan social media, surveys and other forms of customer feedback to uncover the problems plaguing your customers. 
  • You're not on their level: Today's highly connected consumer switches from smartphone to tablet to laptop in the blink of an eye. If a business isn't ready and available to connect with them through their platform of choice at any given time, they risk losing a potential sale to someone that is better connected. In addition, by encouraging consumer-brand engagement via technology and social media, businesses can capitalize on a huge opportunity to garner online recommendations— a priceless marketing tool since half of consumers have tried a new brand due to social recommendations.
  • You're making things difficult: When it comes to making purchases, there are multiple roadblocks that can stop customers in their tracks. For online or mobile shopping, that might be a hard-to-navigate website that ultimately leads to shopping cart abandonment. For the in-store experience, an uneducated salesperson can cause a frustrated customer to abandon a potential purchase. The easier a business makes the customer's experience, the more likely they will be to follow through with their purchase.

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