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Posts Tagged ‘customers’

Solicit and Listen – Customer Feedback is critical to business success

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Clip noteSocial media was the craze of 2009 and will only continue to gain ground in 2010. Blogging about your product and/or service is an incredible way to promote your business or product. While customers and passersby can comment on blog entries or Tweet their favorites, how do you convert the blog commenter into a devoted and loyal customer for future success?

As a business owner, you need to provide easy to use feedback tools to ensure that you are in touch with your customers (and would-be customers) and frequently and consistently responding to their needs. This entails listening to comments and being able to categorize them and REACT. There are a variety of tools available (some such asCrowdsound, RatePoint, Yelp) but do these sites bring traffic back to your site? Some do, but some are a link off with minimal options to react to comments. In a previouspost by DojoMike:  customers are sometimes reluctant to provide feedback (positive or negative).

To maintain an open dialog with customers and encourage feedback, the comment avenue needs to be easy to use and promote responses from the merchant/business owner. As a business owner, you also need to be able to solicit feedback and react to it, professionally. If a negative comment comes through, don’t ignore it, you need to respond and make changes that address the issue. At a minimum, sending an email to a customer who recently bought an item from your online store is an easy avenue to inquire if the ordering process was seamless and also to ask for website suggested changes or product improvements. The more you ask a customer for their input, the more likely they will become a repeat customer AND tell their friends about your site and excellent customer service.

At KikScore, we have created a feedback tool within the KikScore seal itself. Comments that are posted here are sent directly to merchants to review and respond. These comments are also available for all to see that are reviewing that site’s KikScore Seal.

How do you solicit feedback from customers? What do you do with the feedback you get? Do you have any feedback/suggestions for KikScore? Please share with us!

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Posts Tagged ‘customers’

SmallBiz Conversation with KKBB Apparel's Michael Banos & Tom Prince

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

KKBB

Today’s KikScore small business interview is with Michael Banos and Tom Prince from the super hip KKBB Apparel.  Michael, Tom and KKBB caught Kikscore’s eye for a number of reasons as you will see from their uniqueness and creativity that comes through in the interview.  But everyone should check out KKBB’s About Us page is very cool and follows from what we often talk about at KikScore that every small business should have a unique personality that your customers can relate to.  Kikscore is not even a customer of KKBB’s but their culture, vibe and approach is refreshing!

1. Tell us about KKBB and who you focuses on serving?

KKBB is an apparel company specializing in vibrant, off-the-wall designs. It’s pretty hard to ignore a piece from our catalog. Our target demographic is the 13-24 year old crowd. Young trendsetters who have an affinity for music and action sports. We went out on the Vans Warped Tour last year and pretty much hit the nail on the head with who we were trying to reach with our product.

2. How did you get your started selling online?

We’ve had an online store from the very beginning. When we launched the brand our website was up right away and we featured the online store from day one. Right now we’re in the process of creating a section of the store that is wholesaler specific. Our hope is to give each of our wholesale clients their own login which will grant them access to the wholesale prices and ordering forms. This should make the process of ordering wholesale from us easier on both ends.

3. Where will KKBB focus most of its energy in 2010?

Hopefully we’ll be able to maintain the solid customer base we’ve created by engaging them with interesting and funny content through our various web incarnations (website, Facebook, etc.). We’ll be working hard on bringing the brand to people who’ve yet to hear of it and taking steps to acquire more wholesale accounts, both big and small. We’re also looking to sponsor bands and extreme athletes.

4. If you had 2 lessons learned from your business that you could pass on to others about selling online, what are those?

1. Be aware of all the various fees you’ll be encountering through online sales, such as PayPal or fees applied by your store’s host. They can add up very quickly.

2. Make sure to have a solid shipping method setup. That way when the orders begin coming in you can keep up with the volume.

5. As 2009 just closed, what do you see as 2 new trends in your business this year?

We’re going to be getting more involved with sunglasses and other accessories. Also, by the end of 2010 we should be making the transition into cut-and-sew pieces. It wont be long before you’re seeing KKBB jeans, jackets, button-ups and much more.

6. If your business/store could be any movie or movie character, what movie/movie character would it be and why?

The first thing that comes to mind is Chuck Norris but he’s been a bit of a cop-out as of late so we’ll go with King Leonidas from the movie 300. While on tour last summer we adopted the call and response of “KKBB… What is your occupation?!”, “HUH HUH HUH!!” Warped Tour is no joke and it is not for the weak of heart. The KKBB crew never backs down, never gives up, and never surrenders. We are willing to push our bodies to the brink to reach whatever goals we’ve set for ourselves.

7. If KKBB could have a dream spokesperson for your company who would it be and why?

Christopher Walken would make the absolute perfect spokesperson for KKBB. If he was going to shoot a commercial or something for us I don’t even think we would give him any lines. I think we would just hand him a shirt to hold up while he spoke into the camera. We could just let this go on for an hour or so and then go into the editing room and splice the gems together. I’m confident it would turn out to be the most brilliant ad campaign ever.

8. How do the folks at KKBB let loose after a busy day working?

We usually find ourselves at the local watering holes with friends, playing 9-ball and shooting darts. We just try and relax because we rarely get any days off. When we do it’s a ton of lounging.

9. Do you have any parting thoughts for our readers and the small business community?

When you’re greeted with the opportunity for a business meeting, take it, regardless of who it is or what company they represent. Just because a company/product seems unrelated to your own doesn’t mean you wont pick up a great piece of advice, an amazing new contact, or hear about a product that may be useful to you in the future. But always keep in mind, everyone is playing an angle and you have to know what it is.

Thanks to Michael for taking the time for this interview.  If you have questions, please post them in our comment section and we will get Michael to answer them!

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Posts Tagged ‘customers’

Tips for Using Video to Help Your Small Business

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

It really surprises me that small businesses do not more often use videos and online clips to help them with promoting their business.  Before YouTube, online videos were relatively few and far between.  But with YouTube’s popularity and the explosion of video clip sites, online videos are everywhere. Not only are they everywhere, today these video clips are even easier to upload and circulate.  If you have not seen the wedding video from this summer that went seriously viral, this is one example of how easy it is to get a video uploaded and circulated (this video has had over 32 Million views. Yes, I said million).

So what how can your business start using videos.

1. Introduction Video – Start by have an introductory video on your website.  The introductory video can help you introduce your company to shoppers. An introductory video can also personalize the experience that a website visitor has as they can virtually “meet” the management of your small business.  An introductory video allows potential customers to see who they are about to do business with and can give you a boost of credibility.

2. Product Video - Sometimes it is difficult for website visitors to get a grasp of a product and its key features from a list on a website.  Try a short product video that describes your company’s product.  Use a video where a company representative or owner can narrate a description of a product and also personalize the product experience.  Sometimes a product can be a lot more appealing if the customer hears a passionate voice that is describing the product in detail while that company spokesperson highlights the key product benefits.  Check out KikScore’s product video at the bottom of this previous post.

3. Customer Testimonials - You can also use online videos for short customer testimonials about a product or an experience with your company.  You can then post these testimonial videos in the “Testimonial” section of your company’s website.  When do you get to shoot these customer videos? Use a customer meeting or your next industry conference to shoot a quick video of the customer.  Also it never hurts to ask a customer too.  If you will not be seeing a customer that you know is happy with your product, just ask them if they can record a short video with their video phone and have them send it to you.  The quality may vary, but online video can now be cleaned up very quickly.

4. Educational Videos - These types of videos are underrated but can really be helpful for potential customers.  Take the time to shoot short videos that can contain educational tips for your customers.  You can even use this as an opportunity to have employees or product managers film these tips so they can get some “face time” with your customer community.  Using employees is also a good way to convey your brand to the world by allowing the community to put an employee name to the face of your company.

5. Thought Leadership Videos – There has been a real rise in posting of videos that have been taken from conference speeches or panel sessions.  Next time you are speaking at a conference or an event, make sure the video of your speech gets uploaded to YouTube (provided there are no copyright issues) and then gets posted on your website.  As potential and actual customers start to see you as a thought leader in the industry, your business and management will get even more credibility.

So start using videos today to spread the word about your business.  Tell us in the comments how your company plans to use video in the future.

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Posts Tagged ‘customers’

To Be Or Not To Be: A Business With A Personality on Twitter?

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Should your business have a personality on Twitter and other social media channels?  Businesses are asking that question.  Heck, we at KikScore are asking that question.  By way of example, I was tweeting on our KikScore Twitter account this weekend, and I got caught up in the excitement of the Ohio State victory over our arch rival University of Michigan and I retweeted:

“makes me happy thinking of all the 6 year-olds in Ohio that are undefeated in LIFE against Michigan =D (via @Sweet_UpAndDown) great thought!”

After I tweeted this from our KikScore account I had a thought that passed through my head that said, “Should I have just done that? Is that really appropriate for Twitter and our company brand?”  Now there are lots of sites out there that have Twitter Rules including a good one from Chris Brogan.  Not many give guidance on whether your Twitter business account should convey a personality and talk about non-company related topics like football etc.

Our Guidance – Personality Wanted

Here is where we at KikScore come down on this questions.  You can always just tweet about your company, your industry, your products etc.  That generally is the traditional approach to business on Twitter.

We say, be different.  Have a personality on Twitter.  Actually have a remarkable personality on Twitter and that can even help your brand and sales.  Yes, you should try to follow as many Twitter rules as possible – don’t be annoying by being spammy, don’t tweet about the bagel you are eating after your conversation with Joe from Marketing etc but be unique.  Being remarkable and unique with your tweets will help you stand out from all of the other businesses on Twitter.

The best example that I think small businesses should try to use is Zappos.   Employees at Zappos help bring the personality of the company to life on Twitter and that is just one way Zappos has such a unique brand and they are recognized for that by many.

So here are some tips to bring out the personality of your business on Twitter:

1. Tweet about items that employees are passionate about – charities, sports, events, accomplishments etc.

2. Tweet about positive customer experiences or if employees are doing something special like having a volunteer day.

3.  Even if someone is criticizing your company on Twitter, you can always respond and tell them that you are sorry that they feel that way.  That allows even the angry tweeps out there to know that you are listening.

4. Share funny stories or funny occurrences that happen in your business.  If you come across a funny pet tricks video, share it.  Now do not be that person that solely tweets out forwarded messages.  That could be annoying.

5.  Be sensitive and remember generally do not tweet on controversial subjects from your business Twitter accounts.  These subjects can include politics, religion, gender etc.  Your rule should be do not tweet about something that you would not want your mom/dad to see that you wrote and was then was posted on the cover of a major national newspaper.

We think having a personality on Twitter and other social media sites can be fun, rewarding and also help you interact with your community of followers at a deeper level.  That interaction can then turn into a more committed and loyal community for your business which is a good thing!

So when you are hanging out on Twitter this holiday season trying to get sales using the tips we covered previously, show the world that you are a little different.  Let us know how you are remarkably unique on Twitter.


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Posts Tagged ‘customers’

Diary of a Tech Start-Up: Idea to Soft Launch

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

One of our ideas that we have here at KikScore is to provide a running blog on how we started business, what challenges we face, and what we’re doing to make our concept a viable (and hopefully profitable) concern.  There won’t be one voice in this diary, as each of us have a different view of events.  Hopefully this spectrum of views and running history will help our readers with similar challenges (and if you have some advice on approaching a similar problem, we’d love to hear it as well).  We’ll try to be useful and interesting, but most of all, honest (and hopefully humorous).  Ok, let’s get to it.

About 3 years ago, a thought comes across my mind.  I recall this moment well, as I usually don’t have a lot of thoughts.  The concept was to come up with a way to provide some transparency to shoppers — allow an ecommerce site to provide verifiable information on who they are and why they should be trusted (so they can compete with established brands and brick-and-mortar stores).  And if we can supplement this transparency with third party data on these businesses and score the likely shopping experience — well, that’s a home run.  Shoppers benefit from more competition and an excellent shopping experience, Sellers use their good name to sell more online, and we have a nice business.

In an effort to save readers from lighting themselves on fire out of boredom, ala Airplane: The Movie, I can summarize what we did between coming up with this idea and now having our soft launch of KikScore.  We hired a patent lawyer; filed a patent; hired outside developers to supplement our efforts; we futzed around with these developers far too long; 12 months later we fired those developers; we spend 6-8 months working and re-working on our scoring model and securing third-party data sources; we developed a look-and-feel of the site (twice); and came up with a name and trademark (twice).  We all did this while each of us were working full time (and often overtime) with day jobs!  Alot of late, late nights and plenty of weekend work got us to where we are at. 

We’re now live and have several beta customers out there.  While the past couple of years have been busy, we know that the next two will be even busier.  Though it will be a lot more exciting actually being in business, instead of talking about it.

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Posts Tagged ‘customers’

Make Me A Clown Now! While You Are At It Teach Me What to Expect When I Start Selling Online Part 2

Friday, October 16th, 2009

This is the second part of the two part posting about starting to sell online. You can read the first part here.

Yes, you can be a clown and you can start selling online pretty quickly. You can even be a clown while you are selling online. The trick is to make sure you do not act like a clown when you get set up to start selling online. This post will cover some key items that every person who wants to take their business online needs to think about as they get going.

Test, Test, Test

It is painful, but you must be constantly testing changes to the website. The tests should not be wholesale changes, but should be controlled. So many people focus on getting the product line-up just right, or the purchase flows streamlined or the website to have the ideal color. The truth is you need to keep testing changes to your website. Nearly every component should be tested to see how visitors to your website interact with the website. Controlled testing is key. That is commonly known as A/B testing and here is a great summary of A/B testing. It basically means you show a change to the website to only 50% or so of the visitors and 50% of the visitors do not see the change. The analysis that is so valuable is what happens to the other 50% of visitors who see the changed website. Do they convert at a higher rate, do they stay on the website longer, do they click the new link that you added etc. This is the value of testing and more testing until you optimize the various areas of your site, but even then continued testing will help you as shoppers’ habits evolve.

Be Flexible

This may be the most important of all. To be a seller online, you need to be flexible. You may think that customers and shoppers will respond a certain way, but you need to be prepared to expect the unexpected. Inflexible folks just can not make it as merchants online.  Even better, if you are flexible and are addressing your customers needs that will create customer loyalty with your business.  Remember customers like to deal with businesses that listen to them and also take action on customer feedback. This flexibility can also lead to your customers being your best advocates through word of mouth recommendations about your business and products.  All of this from just listening to your customers and acting on their feedback!

These are just a few of the things to keep in mind. Do you have any lessons learned from your experience selling online that you want to share?

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Posts Tagged ‘customers’

Make Me A Clown Now! While You Are At It Teach Me What to Expect When I Start Selling Online Part 1

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Yes, you can be a clown and you can start selling online pretty quickly. You can even be a clown while you are selling online. The trick is to make sure you do not act like a clown when you get set up to start selling online. This post will cover some key items that every person who wants to take their business online needs to think about as they get going.

Website

There are many ways to approach your website. Many people just jump in a buy a ready-made template from a website template company. Be careful of doing that too quickly. The trick is that before you actually dive into buying a template or building your website, you must take the time to plan out a few things about your website. Take some time to review websites that sell similar products that you are going to sell or are in a similar industry so you can see different looks and feels for websites. After you have done this, sketch out the pages of your planned website on a piece of paper. This will help you visualize your website and better inform you when you get to the point where you are considering different options for templates or designers that will design your website. The key is taking a few minutes to plan out the vision of your website. If you do that, the process for building your actual website will run a lot smoother. Too many people just skip this step and go to the template or design stage and do this on the fly. You can do this, but it will be a much bigger challenge than if you planned it out.

Your community

Customers…..Who are going to be your customers for the products that you sell? Figure out who are the customers, but go one step further and try to think about the influencers for the customers. That is the community that you want to build for your website and your products. For example, a seller of athletic equipment like wrist wraps and weights are selling to customers that want to use this equipment to get healthy. But other influencers for this can be athletic clubs and personal trainers. As the seller of the equipment thinks about building a community through a blog or other forms of social media, the seller should aim to serve the greater community of customers and influencers in order to build a community of followers.

Tracking and Interacting with Customers

Once a customer has purchased from you that is not the end of your relationship. Now as a seller online, especially where shoppers have so many options it is imperative that sellers maintain a relationship with the customer. Part of this is selfish because only the customer can give you feedback about their experience with the products that you have sold them. But more importantly, the customer’s feedback before, during and after the purchase experience will give you important feedback that will help you improve your customer experience. Without it, you are literally flying blind. So how do you interact and track customers. There are a number of customer tracking applications that will help you work to interact with your customers. These include Kampyle (feedback tracker), SugarCRM (customer relationship manager) and CrowdSound (feedback widget). Not to mention, you can always just pick up the phone or email the customer to get feedback. This may be the most underrated way to interact with customers because most sellers just do not think about doing that. Call your customer! You will not regret it, but be prepared for the feedback because it could be brutally honest.

Stayed tuned for Part 2 of this post tomorrow.

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