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How to acquire more customers in the year 2014

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With over 30 million units, SMEs accounted for 17 per cent of the country’s GDP in 2011. Small & Medium Business Development Chamber of India projects the share of SMEs in the expansion of the Indian economy to increase to 22 per cent of the GDP in 2012. The estimate is backed by its assumption of 12 million additional people joining the SME sector over the period 2012-14.

The challenge, however remains lack intricate knowledge of  customers, identifying and researching consumer behavior . Most analysts believe, one of the major trends in 2014 will be organizations investing heavily in technology to aid them in identifying customer consumption behavior  boosting customer engagement and efforts to enhance the overall experience.Customer Experience Management(CSM), will remain an area of focus in the new financial year.

A recent research by London-based, consultancy firm,Ovum suggests 90% of organizations are at risk of becoming irrelevant to customers unless they can learn to adapt to their tastes and behavior faster.

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So while, the service sector in general sees customer engagement as key to elicit trust and loyalty from a disillusioned customer base, heavy industries can’t ignore customer engagement as the key differentiator in a highly competitive market.

‘How to acquire more customers this year?’ This is a conundrum that faces organisations of all sizes and the two major questions faced by organizations are:

1) How do you make best use of limited resources to deliver the best possible service today?

2) How do you invest wisely to adapt to rapidly changing customer behaviour ; while also making sure you keep a long-term grip on the basics that really matter to your customers?

While consumer behavior and customer-satisfaction are really critical and complex subjects. Here  are few steps that SMEs need to understand, in order to deliver customer service without compromising resources:-

1.     Be empathetic:  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “empathy” as “the ability to imagine oneself in another’s place and understand the other’s feelings, desires, ideas, and actions.” So invest time and resource in reading the customer’s mind.

2.     Review customer requirements: There’s something powerful about hearing what customers are thinking in their own voice. Adobe created a Customer Listening Post, which is an immersive room where executives and employees across the company can listen to live calls and review chats with customers.

3.     Be Available round the clock: These days, both large and small businesses are placing increasing emphasis on social and digital communication. However, research commissioned by Vodafone shows that people still want to communicate by phone, email or in person. So make sure your customers are always able to contact to you on their terms. 50% of buyers use social media to identify solution providers.Ask yourself: How do you stack up? And are you keeping pace?

4.     Focus on upgrading technology: A radical approach is needed to handle burgeoning data from overlapping sources such as mobile, social, in-store, e-commerce sites, and to use this data to enhance customer experience management. A close cognitive studies of activities include technology upgradation for packaging, competition studies and development of marketing techniques .

5.     Track feedbacks: In addition to helping you to understand how your customers feel about you, feedbacks can also drive new efficiencies. IVR system tracking used as part cloud-based servicemix, have great potential to cut costs within your customer service operation: for example, by giving people an alternative to calling. Small businesses could consider taking this a step further,  to build an in-depth customer high-scalability service has capability that will help you work around any potential limited capacity to take calls.

6.     Great customer service: is carried out by individuals who feel like they have full responsibility for resolving issues. Equally, great customer service is characterised by a seamless experience regardless of whether it’s delivered in a shop, on a PC or on the phone. Are there ways you can help staff share knowledge and insight? Job shadowing across departments or areas of the business might be a good place to start. Making sure managers spend time on customer service issues works even better.

7.    Keep a track: Create an environment that encourages employees to go out of their way for customers. Disney trains its staff on a program called Take Five where  employees are expected to take five minutes from their normal daily duties to do something special for their guests; they call it being aggressively friendly. Sounds workable and innovative! Doesn’t it?

8.     Professional approach:  Irrespective of size; professionalism and projecting it at work is essential. Nobody wants to associate with a team of amateurs. Real-time monitoring, voice-call recording and voice-mail facilities could help.

9.     Add Skin to your campaign:  Make offers, build in-house referrals for example Festive offers around Diwali and Christmas always boost sales.

As we get into 2014, organizations will have to leverage all the customer intelligence they can lay their hands on; in order to stay one step ahead of the competition. Only by choosing technologies and partners that allow them to focus on being adaptive to customer requirements can retailers succeed in the current ultra-competitive climate.

This article is contributed by Aakaanksha Singh. She is a professional Blogger, columnist and an author.

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Kritika Prashant

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