I work in retail as my day job and meet over a hundred people a day. Interesting people, strange people, people I may like to know, people I know I would hate, people that I wished I would never had met, people with problems, people with solutions, people that don’t seem to take the hint that I am paid to be there an help them, that I am finally thinking of becoming a monk.
Wait, did I say that. I know that this is not the correct way to think, but it hits me right away at work. Competition in the retail marketplace has forced many stores to cut costs to the bone so that they can cut prices, which, of course means that they must cut back on labor costs. And this leads to treating customers like cattle, whether you want to or not. Get them in, shake them down for as much money as you can and get them out. And how does the corporate office try to get employees to fake customer service? By using canned phone answering techniques, greeting the customers at the door, and basically creating a frontline of expendable, robotic employees. Why do I bring this up?
Because as a internet marketer, auction seller or retailer, you can take advantage of this. Slow down, keep your business small, and provide true customer service. Your customers will notice the difference. Wait I have to come up with a new word here. “Customer” has become a four letter word to me. Let use patron. Someone who furthers you work, supports you, and comes back to your site.
Take a little test. Which of following can you recognize right away?
– A telemarketer
– An ezine personalized with your name
– Would you like fries with that?
– A memorized sales pitch from a salesman
– An autoresponder message
– Please press 1 for yes and 2 for no
– Microsofts help system
I bet when you run into these, you think, ” Do these people think I am stupid? Why do they really believe that I would rather use a system or get rote answers instead of talking to a real human?” Then why turn around and use the online equivalents in your own business.
I am not saying that there is not a use for automation. By all means use an autoresponder for your free courses. Definitely set up a FAQ page if you keep getting the same questions over and over. Automate as much as you can to make your job easier. But there is a limit.
Allow your customers to send your emails and write them back. If they ask a specific question, give them a specific answer. Have you ever walked into a store, looked down every aisle for a specific item, then ask an employee where it was only to get directions when you actually wanted him to lead you to the product. If you give a vague answer to an online customer just to get rid of him, you are doing the same thing.
About personalization gimmicks, I don’t think they are necessary. Just write a newsletter like you are writing to one person. Make it subjective. Sprinkling a person’s name randomly throughout a newsletter will not make them think you wrote it directly to them. Give your subscriber’s some credit. If they have been online for a while, they know that even spam can be personalized if the spammer is good enough.
If you are just online to make cash and don’t care how, by all means use every shotgun sales method available, but if you chose this because you like what you are writing or selling and there is nothing else you would rather do, put a little more effort in. Your customers are buying because they have the same interests you do. Treat them as friends. Look at your retail experiences and compare them to your online marketing methods. If you are alienating your customers, slow down. This is not a box that prints money. There are other humans out there.
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