When you were first starting out in business, you had a few friends, family members and customers that you leaned on for support and advice. Now these might have changed over the years, but chances are your business still has some trusted friends and customers. They also probably still give you advice informally or tell you when your company has a problem. And that’s great. Businesses need those checks and balances to keep growing and operating smoothly.
But did you know that there is a way to formalize that process? By creating a customer inner circle for a business, you will raise the level of communication, build trust, and grow your company and it’s free. Let’s say for example that you own an accounting firm that specializes in small business finance. You could create a group on Facebook or on Google and invite your longest clients to participate. Have them share questions or issues that frequently come up or a service that your company should either provide or improve. The feedback that your oldest clients provide gives you insight into how to better your work, your staff and yourself.
Some other ways to rev up your online Inner Circle include:
- Ask a Question—If you are trying to decide on a course of action for your business, pose the question to the group. If you run a spa and you are debating adding a makeup bar or classes on braiding use the inner circle to find out which one appeals to your trusted clients.
- Previews—Websites generally need refreshing every few years and your inner circle can be the perfect place to debate design, content, and other features. Give your inner circle the chance to view potential new designs or ask them what features they would like to see added. Normally a service like this would be expensive, but using your inner circle saves you a bundle. Plus who knows your company and your website better than the folks that were there three versions ago.
- Benefits—Although you aren’t paying the inner circle members to be there, it would be a nice gesture for your company to offer some benefits for all the free advice. Giving them sneak previews, offering them a discount on services, or bonuses like tickets to a baseball game will encourage them to stay active with the group.
- Share—The feedback that your inner circle gives you is of great benefit, but only if you use it. Review what they have to say, share it with your staff and then share it with the rest of your customers to see if they agree. Sharing the feedback is validating the feedback and it gives the participants a sense of trust that their thoughts are taken seriously.
An engaged inner circle can be an integral part of your company’s development. It will give you insight on how to grow and how to fix issues. An inner circle will also cut down on costs because you aren’t hiring a professional consultant. Your customers know your company better than anyone so put their knowledge to work for you.
Has your business created a customer inner circle? How is it working? Talk to us in the comments.
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Grab your free 160-page copy of the Big Press Release Book – Press Releases for Every Occasion and Industry here: http://www.ereleases.com/offer/bigbook.html