Stay competitive: How to engage clients with speed and convenience

The last few years have been full of tech innovation and adoption, for both businesses and consumers. Consumers have become accustomed to a level of speed and convenience that was previously seen as a luxury, with research from Podium finding that 86% of Aussies expect businesses to be even more convenient to interact with in the wake of the pandemic.

For local businesses it’s more important now than ever to think about what they can feasibly do to stay competitive. In the current environment, it can be difficult to compete with low prices or special products alone. Instead, a great way businesses can attract customers is by offering a communication strategy that fulfils consumers’ want for speed and convenience.

How can you effectively engage potential customers?

Businesses need to keep up with this landscape. Below, you’ll find three focus areas for building an engaging communications strategy that will help acquire and retain customers.

The Discovery Point

Every customer journey begins with the ‘discovery’ phase, which is when a potential customer is looking for the right product or service to fit their needs. Many local businesses focus their customer experience efforts for once a customer has made contact, but it’s important for business owners to proactively seek to engage potential customers who are still in the discovery phase. This is done by being immediately convenient to them.

Clients just google terms outlining what they need – such as “eye-brow threading North Shore” or “bike shop near me” – then just check out the first three to five results. So, if your store doesn’t show up as a top result on Google, you’ll miss out on 75% of the clicks.

Proactivity in this phase means setting up an online presence that is searchable, reliable, and easily contactable. The easiest way to ensure your business is searchable and reliable is to claim and update your Google Business profile, with a focus on accuracy – meaning that all of your basic information is up-to-date, and that you’re utilising local SEO whenever you’re able.

The Point of Contact

Once a customer has found you and become interested in your products and services, the next thing they’ll want to do is engage with you. Similar to the discovery phase, customers want local businesses to be reliable and easy to connect with during the contact or engagement phase. This doesn’t have to be as direct as sending you an email or giving you a call, it can be as simple as looking at an FAQ page, or interacting with an automated webchat.

Focus on your website and social media profiles. Ensure that all of the information a potential customer may be interested in is available, and try to put it in more than one place – this could mean that you have a list of services in your about page, and a dedicated service page.

Importantly, provide a range of easy ways that potential customers can get in touch with you. These include low-maintenance booking portals, as well as direct contact lines to your storefront. Regardless of the options customers have to contact you, it’s crucial that they’re able to find answers quickly, and that they find the overall experience to be smooth.

So, if you’re going to provide a contact number or email, the customer is going to expect a quick response – if you sometimes find emails fall through the cracks or tend to get out-of-hours calls, a webchat pop-up with some pre-programmed responses could be your saviour.

The Follow Up

Retaining an existing client can be up to seven times cheaper than acquiring a new one, so it’s in your best interest to continue engaging every customer after the transaction is complete.

In order to continue communicating with your clients, you’ll need to collect their data. Keeping in mind the client need for convenience, try to integrate data collection into the usual customer experience, like through initiating loyalty program sign-ups during a transaction.

If you work in an industry that collects contact details for new clients, make sure to ask about the types of communications they’re happy to receive. For example, if you’re a hairdresser, you can use the online booking form by including a check box option to receive SMS reminders on when the next haircut is due, or to receive notifications of promotions.

Once you have a database of clients, you can use customer management systems to automate these reminders and promotions – making the ongoing communication easy and convenient for yourself, and making a future engagement convenient for your client.

Dave Scheine is the Country Manager of Australia at Podium.