Monday, July 18, 2005

Five Ways to Turn Visitors Into Loyal Customers!

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by John Crisano

1. Use a firm deadline and stick to it

You've seen these offers before. You know the ones I'm talking about. They say "Offer Ends Midnight on 15 August 2005 – Hurry". But than, after the 15th of August, you go back to the site you saw the offer and notice the same ad, the same price and the same product only this time they are promoting with a new "Deadline" date on when the offer will end. To me, and many other visitors, this does not add credibility. It almost always creates doubt in my mind. When I say add a sense of urgency, I mean create a deadline and stick to it! If you are selling a widget for 25% off the normal price, let your customer know, set a deadline and once that deadline is reached, end the offer. Period. This not only creates urgency, it implies that you are a person of your word. When you say what you're going to do, you do it.

2. Offer an "Iron Clad" Money-Back Guarantee

Most web sites offer a money-back guarantee. And most, if not all honor it. Many online businesses sell electronic information or software. Once downloaded, the customer has your product. Most customers will never ask for their money back. However, some will. This is a cost of doing business online. The best advice to give here is to always honor your money back guarantee. In many cases, we as online businesses have no choice when people want their money back. They simply notify Clickbank, or their credit card company and make a claim. Next thing you know the money is charged back. The customer has your product and you are out of luck. A good way to prevent further returns is to ask the customers who requested their money back one or two simple questions. These questions can help solve future return issues. Ask "Who, What, Where, When, & Why". Examples: "What can we do to improve this product? Who did you speak with at our company? Where do we need to improve? When did you speak with Customer Service? Why did this item not meet your needs?"...Ask questions. Make changes and give the customers what they want, not what you think they want.

3. Offer a "Members Only" site

People love to feel like they belong. Offer a password protected site where members can log into and find free content and download of software, ebooks, and more. Add a forum, surveys and marketing ideas. You get the point; the key is to only make it available to your members.

4. Have an up-to-date "Frequently Asked Questions" (FAQ) Section

Ensure that you have an updated FAQ section. Most people want answers to questions when they ask them. They don't like to wait for an email response. The solution is to put you in the visitor's shoes. Review your entire offer, web page or program and write down every question that comes to mind. Once you have your list of questions, write the answers in easy to understand language, create your web page and place links on every page to the FAQ section. When people email you with questions you may have overlooked, simply add it and your response to the FAQ page.

5. Answer emails quickly

This may seem like a "No Brainer", but many web based business owners continue to lose site of the fact that when someone contacts them with a questions…They, the company are dealing with a "hot prospect". This is someone who has gone out of their way to send an email. This is someone who is already interested in the program or product and the only thing needed to close the sale is a quick professional response.

On the flip side, respond to complaints quickly. This is very important and I will relate a story as to why it is so important.

A little while back my organization purchased an LCD monitor wall mount from a small, home based company on line. The item arrived quickly as promised, but the product was not as described on the web site. The mount was cheaply made and would not hold the 36" TV as stated. My purchasing agents tried for several days to contact them. After leaving several phone messages and emails, no one ever tried to contact us. Finally, after a week, I went to their web contact page, emailed them and stated that I was interested in purchasing one of their mounts but had some questions. I left my contact phone number and sent it off. In less than 20 minutes my phone rang. It was the company responding to my email. I was totally surprised at the quick response. I answered the phone and started off the conversation something like this. "Hi, I'm interested in some of your wall mounts, but first, I have a question on why no one from the company was responding to return requests of my Purchasing Agent". I told the person on the phone the name of the agent and suddenly, the line got quiet, and then I heard a click. She hung up on me. As you can imagine, I was pretty upset. It was obvious that the person on the other line knew what I was talking about. The next day I opened an investigation on an attempt to defraud the US Government. You see, I was also a contracting officer for a government agency. Moral of this story is –

1. Respond to complaints immediately -
2. You never know who your customers are – Treat everyone with respect and courtesy -
3. Treat every customer, new and old, like s/he is your best customer!

These tips are only a few of the many ways to gain and keep loyal customers.

Remember: Don't be afraid to try new ideas.
Ask your customers what they want, and give it to them.
Never forget that the only way that you can remain in business is from happy, satisfied customers.

About the Author
John Crisano is the webmaster of EBiz Hook Up. Your online Ezine, Co-Op business directory. His site also includes ideas, tips, tools, techniques and even online talent to assist you on how to market and operate your online business.
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