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10 Easy Customer Engagement Ideas for Small Business

Scott Gerber is the founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council, a nonprofit organization that promotes youth entrepreneurship as a solution to unemployment and underemployment. The YEC provides young entrepreneurs with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of a business’s development and growth.

Business and technology writer Efraim Turban defines customer service as “a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction — that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer expectation.”

While customer experience means different things to different people, it is generally about the sum of all the interaction a customer has with a brand or company. That’s a significant difference from customer service, which generally focuses on a single transaction.

All of which begs the question, how do you create a customer experience that sets you apart from the competition and keeps customers coming back? Luckily for you, I recently asked a group of successful young entrepreneurs those very questions.

1. Our Customers Are Our Models

At Sweat EquiTees, we make sure to feature our customers as best we can. After all, they are our life and soul. Since we sell clothing to entrepreneurs, we have our customers send us photos of themselves in their shirts, and then we feature them as “model entrepreneurs” on our website. It’s a fun and engaging way of promoting our customers and showing off our products.

- Benjamin Leis, Sweat EquiTees.

2. Hold a Virtual Party

Everyone loves to attend parties, even more so if they don’t need to dress up and drive somewhere. I’ve held virtual parties where I’m on camera interacting with people via chat, giving away fun tips, making jokes and answering customer questions. Why not make learning fun? I should mention it was Halloween and I was a wearing a witch’s hat!

- Nathalie Lussier, Nathalie Lussier Media.

3. Put the Spotlight on Customers

We like to write about the attendees to our events and their companies on our blog. This makes them happy because we’re spreading the word about their activities. They also feel more engaged and involved with our company in between events, and feel part of a larger community.

- Tim Jahn, Entrepreneurs Unpluggd.

4. Put Money In Your Clients’ Pockets

Once you know who your clients are and what they do for a living, connect them to people who need their services. You can make virtual introductions, but this also works offline. There is no greater compliment you can give a customer than referring someone to their business. If you put money in your clients’ pockets, they’ll keep putting money in yours.

- Robert Sofia, Platinum Advisor Marketing Strategies, LLC.

5. Call Your Customers

Call me old-fashioned, but what could be more engaging than a one-on-one phone call? Try calling some of your customers, even if it wasn’t part of your agreement or the package you sold them. If you spend 10 minutes getting to know a customer, you’ll learn some incredible things about why people buy your stuff. You can also win a fan for life. If you just have to keep things online, use Skype!

- Corbett Barr, Insanely Useful Media.

6. Geocache Scavenger Hunt

I’ve set up a geocaching scavenger hunt for some of my clients to work together as teams and integrate my product while on the hunt. Geocaching uses GPS coordinates to find destinations or hidden objects. This generates a lot of buzz and is a great way to shake-up traditional marketing methods. If you have a product or service, introduce it as a geocache to make some curiosity.

- Vanessa Van Petten, Science of People.

7. Use YouTube

YouTube videos are some of the easiest, least expensive ways to create a fun, engaging experience. Use a Flip video camera, which has easy editing software, to record testimonials from your employees and clients. Upload videos of your team doing unique or entertaining things. Be sure it’s tasteful and your clients will like it.

- Nick Friedman, College Hunks Hauling Junk.

8. Solicit Participation With Contests

Engage your customers with trivia, contests or promotions which require a public response to participate. For example, I ask musicians to share their stories on social media. The best stories shared win free digital distribution to get their music on iTunes, Amazon, etc. The goal is to get the conversation going to reach friends of friends. Costs are minimal and ROI is great.

- Lucas Sommer, Audimated.

9. Make Yourself Accessible

People love feeling like they have access to you whenever they want. If I’m emailing my mailing list, I always try to add a line that says “Anything I can do to personally help you out? Just hit reply.” I always get a lot of responses, and build a much deeper bond with my audience and customers.

- Sean Ogle, Location 180, LLC.

10. Show Your Fans Some Facebook Love

We really love the relationship that we have with our fans and potential customers, so we like to show the world. Every week on our Facebook page, we highlight one of our fans as “Fan of the Week.” This is fun because their love for our company is displayed to our fans, and that person will then share it with their own network.

- Andrew Saladino, Just Bath Vanities.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Kaptain Kobold

More About: community, contributor, customer engagement, customer service, features, gamification, Small Business, YouTube

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