By Pat Henneberry
Pat Henneberry is president of consulting and sales training company The Jewelry Coach. Reach her at 512-203-3414, or on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
Howdy from Texas! Pat Henneberry here.

I wanted to check in with you all (or y’all as we say in Texas) to see how everyone is doing.

I know you’re still experiencing challenging times and it can be difficult to focus on business when so much is going on in our lives and in the world, but our businesses are how we take care of our employees, our families, our communities and ourselves.

I want you to ask yourselves, what changes have I implemented to take advantage of the current opportunities available in this strange business climate?

Below, I came up with some ideas for innovation around customer engagement, which is especially important right now.

Hopefully my suggestions will help you at least trigger an idea on how to keep your customers engaged, with minimal time commitment, and maintain top-of-mind presence as we continue to weather this storm.

Customer Engagement
Customer engagement simply defines the relationship you have with your customers. It’s upon this foundation that your customers will form their opinions of you and develop loyalty for your store.

This is the time to make sure you are connecting and checking in with your customers. You already know it is a significant part of building your business; without your customers, you can’t have one.

This is a critical time to make sure your sales associates are touching base with customers to “check in” as well. It shouldn’t be a sales call, just a genuine, “how are you and your family” type of call.

It’s so simple and yet so important.

This customer engagement will:
• Humanize your store even more;
• Keep your relationship with your customers going and top-of-mind; and
• Remind your customers what products and/or services you offer and what’s new at the store.

Be Human
Loyal customers don’t appear out of thin air.

Their customer journey should be enhanced by customer engagement strategies that make them feel as though they are dealing with real people instead of automated systems and social media (yes, social media is good but it’s not as personal as you think).

Even if automated systems and social media are used to communicate with your customers, they should be utilized in a way that invokes a human connection. Just like above, be genuine, be real—these attributes build trust and people buy from people they trust.

There are simple strategies that will help you humanize your store even more than it already (hopefully) is.

Some strategies will be as easy as signing your emails and newsletters with a personal signature instead of from your store, while others will require more effort.

People love video these days, so maybe it’s time you have your own YouTube channel for customers.

Use it to talk about what’s new in your store—new sales associate, new brand, new paint—but also what’s going on in your community, or include something personal about your family. Make a genuine connection.

Live chats, customer support and customer feedback also must be considered when developing a customer strategy that will build loyalty and help you successfully engage customers.

Live-chat supports are all the rage now, but often they are done by bots (robots) or with agents who are not familiar with your store so they are unable to properly answer questions or concerns. A way around this is to ensure your customer service representatives are educated about your business so they can effectively answer questions on your behalf.

Live chats aren’t necessary, but they are useful for quick responses.

Ensure it’s done well or don’t do it at all. I’ve clicked on too many of these just to become frustrated because they don’t know what they are talking about, or it’s a bot and that makes it worse!

No matter what you choose, your customers should consistently feel a personal connection with you and your store.

It’s much easier to keep your customers happy and satisfied to begin with instead of trying to get back into their good graces afterward. Invest in a properly trained team (yep, I just had to bring in training) and you will not have to spend your time dealing with customer concerns or complaints.

Engaging your customers and making them feel appreciated will help you to build a long line of loyal followers ready to buy your products and services.

Try to be relatable and approachable. You don’t have to use all your time to speak to your customers, but setting aside some time every now and then will only work in favor of your store. It will be worth it.

Best of luck building more customer loyalty and trust, and hang in there. This will be over, and we will all find ourselves on the other side of these difficult days.

Pat Henneberry is president of consulting and sales training company The Jewelry Coach and an advocate for natural diamonds. Reach her at 512-203-3414, via her website, or on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

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