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customer feedback

Are You Utilizing this Difference-Maker in Your Shop?

Customer Feedback Difference Maker.jpg

When I first opened my online shop, I made a big mistake. I was just getting started and was honestly still getting to know who my customers really were and what exactly it was they needed. I spent the first several months figuring out what products made sense for both my customers and me. I tried a variety of combinations in my shop: both printable as well as printed physical Thank You for Your Order cards until finally I thought I’d figured out what was going to be best. I emptied my shop of printables and offered nothing but printed cards. I was sure that my busy fellow handmade business owners would appreciate getting finished cards delivered right to their doorsteps and not having one more thing to create for their customers’ packages.

Long story short… I was wrong. I ended up losing what little momentum I had gained in my first few months and lost a TON of time in the process. Thankfully, the honest feedback of one of my loyal return customers quickly brought me back on track. It turns out many makers and shop owners don’t mind printing and cutting their own Thank You for Your Order cards – especially if you make it quick and easy for them. : ) After all, handmade business owners are natural DIY-ers… hello! Not to mention, most appreciate saving their hard-earned money by purchasing inexpensive, one-time-cost printables rather than printed cards. I look back and can’t help but laugh and wonder, “What in the world was I thinking?!”

There are certainly plenty of lessons to be learned from my experience, but man am I grateful for that genuine feedback that saved me from painfully wasting time, wondering what my customers wanted.

What started out as a custom order request became a simple yet invaluable moment of customer feedback that made all the difference for my shop. And the feedback from my wonderful customers continues to lead my shop and product offering in the right direction. Thank goodness!

So how can customer feedback be a difference-maker for your shop?

First things first. You have access to feedback from your customers in all kinds of places. In this case, the feedback came through a one on one conversation with my customer. However, there are many places and ways for your customers to communicate with you, both directly and indirectly, which is totally awesome! Facebook or other social media, email, craft shows, and even viewing and purchasing statistics give you insights to your customers. Are you getting a lot of custom orders for something in particular? Yep, that’s feedback.

Still not seeing the feedback you are looking for? Then ask for it! Put together a brief survey and email it out to your mailing list. Send a follow up email after someone makes a purchase from you and ask how their experience was – or ask about whatever it is you’d like feedback on. Post a question on Facebook to your fans and customers. The possibilities are endless, and you might be surprised how quick people are to share their opinions when they feel someone really cares about what they think (image that!).

Now before you get all excited about gathering feedback from your customers you have to realize… feedback is worth absolutely nothing if you’re not willing to listen and adapt.

Please don’t misunderstand here. I’m not talking jump through hoops or turn your shop upside down for the random, unusual request and I’m not implying to blindly change your products or pricing without thinking through the business side of things or staying true to yourself. Let’s not forget, it’s your business, you’re in control. What I am saying is our customers are the key to our success and by listening to them, we’ll be able to build businesses that our customers love and support. And when our customers are happy, our businesses will grow. Whether it’s fine-tuning your product lines, making improvements to your online shop or adapting the way you do business, even the smallest of changes can make a big difference for your shop.

Sincerely from my shop to yours,

Anne

PS: I’d love to hear how you’re getting feedback from your customers and what you’re doing about it. Hope to hear from you in the comments!

 annewashibio

Anne McOmber – Totally Design

Hi, I’m Anne! I’m a wife and mom with an obsession with modern design, a passion for customer appreciation, and an inherited love for beautiful packaging. I spend my days playing cars, going on walks and helping my fellow business owners create lasting impressions and genuine relationships with their customers. Life is good!

Pinterest – Facebook

4 Ways to Stay in Touch with Your Customers Without Violating Etsy’s Terms of Use

paperballoonHot Air Balloon Garland Kit from Especially Paper

Getting a current customer to buy again is way easier than getting a new customer.  And happy customers are the best marketers by far.

But how exactly do you get that repeat business? How do you get your customers to remember you when they need to buy a gift (ahem … the holidays!) or a friend asks them for a recommendation for the exact product you sell?

Send them emails! Like your Facebook page! Follow you on twitter and pinterest! Right?

Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that. This area of marketing is quite regulated. Etsy’s terms of use do not allow sellers to contact customers for “sending unsolicited advertising or promotions or ‘spam.'” In the US, the CAN-SPAM Act makes it illegal to send promotional email without allowing a user to Opt-In.

What does all that mean? Basically, it means that unless someone gives you their email and says you can send them promotions, you can only email (or send an Etsy Conversation) about a specific order.

Never fear, though. I’m here to give you 4 concrete ways to keep the conversation with your customers going!

Before we begin there are two things you need to market to your existing customers.

1. You need an emailing list. Email marketing sites make this super easy and include forms and links. They let you email a bunch of people at once and customize the email with images and a template. I am a big fan (and user) of Mailchimp, because it’s easy to use and free to get started.  Plus, Mailchimp shares silly links and videos! You can also check out Emma, Constant Contact, or iContact.

2. A Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest account. I know it seems silly to some, but social networking can be a great way to easily interact with customers and remind them about your business.

Ok. Let’s get talking! Here are my 4 tips for staying in touch with your customers to promote repeat business and word-of-mouth marketing. And, really, who doesn’t want those?

1. Ask them to join your mailing list after purchase and before delivery

You probably send them an email confirming the order, right? If so, now’s the time to ask for their email, like, or follow. If you dont ask, you definitley won’t get it.

However, it’s important to remember that at this point in the transaction, you are an unknown to the buyer. Yes, they purchased from you, but they have no item to love and no wonderful relationship.

You need to give them a reason to join your mailing list. The reason should be compelling to a first time buyer.

A reason such as:

* Free shipping! Let them know that you will refund their shipping charge if they join your mailing list.
* Is there a complimentary item you could give them a discount on? i.e. If they purchased a necklace, are there earrings or a bracelet they could add for 40% off?
* What about a $5 Amazon gift card? You should think outside the box here.  Remember, the  ability to re-market to an audience who already loves your product is incredibly valuable.

You may need to experiment with different offerings. Different types of customers (new vs. repeat, high vs. low priced item) may respond better to different incentives. Experiment until you find what works for you and your business.

Don’t forget to tell them what they will hear about on your mailing list: new items, sales, exclusive discounts.

2. Follow them on Twitter

Try googling their Etsy name and email address to find them.

Note that Twitter and Pinterest are really the only social networks where it is acceptable to follow people you don’t know personally. Don’t try this on Facebook!

Once you’ve followed them, add them to a Twitter List. That way you can go to Twitter, click on your list and see only what your customers are saying. 

You should respond to their tweets – in a personal, authentic way. You should not tweet at them with promotions and discounts and new items. Twitter is about having a conversation.

This technique can also work on Pinterest, but is a little more challenging as you’ll need to keep track of your customers Pinterest name separately. That said, it’s probably worth setting aside 5 minutes of your time on Pinterest or some time each month to check out the pins of your customers.

Remember to always treat your interactions with customers on social media as you would a friend (not a used car salesman). Did a customer tweet or pin about redecorating their office? Respond with a tip of your own!

3. Send a QR code and a link to your mailing list sign up in every order

What’s a QR code? It’s that black and white square digital thingy that you see everywhere. Someone can scan it with their smart phone (using one of many apps) and their phone will go directly to what ever link you specify.

I love MOO cards for this — you can create a business card with you brand AND create a QR card to display right on it.

Kaywa, Scan, and Esponse will all create a QR code image for you to add anywhere.

Don’t forget to also include the link itself – not everyone has smart phones or knows about QR codes. Try using bit.ly to create a short link that is easy for your customer to type into their browser.

Make sure you give them a reason (see #1) to join your mailing list and tell them what they will get in the emails. In this case — post purchase — they have received their amazing, wonderful item and it’s top of their mind, so general discounts on their next purchase should be really effective here.

4. Follow up when sending your item and after the estimated arrival date

Because you are writing about a specific order, this is OK. But no more emails after this unless they join your list!

Make sure that every email you send includes a link to join your mailing list and links to your social networking sites and website. Let them know how to contact you!

When you’ve sent an item, email with the tracking number (if you can) and an estimated arrival date. Then let them know that you’d love their feedback and can join your mailing list for more updates and specials. Keep it simple and grateful.

When following up after the estimated arrival date, ask if everything got there OK and if the item met their expectations.

This is the best time to ask for a testimonial. Testimonials are the best forms of marketing. Ask for photos of them using/wearing the item. Show them that you care about how they use the item. Many people will not respond, but those who will will give you wonderful things to share with current and potential customers.

What are your tips for getting your customers to engage with your brand, remember you, and follow up? Have any of these worked for you?

rebeccawashi

Rebecca Miller-Webster – Patterned

Rebecca Miller-Webster is the maker of Patterned, an online customer communication hub for creative businesses.  Rebecca has been involved in the handmade community since the early days of Etsy and has seen it from the perspective of a buyer, seller, blogger, and advertiser.  Rebecca enjoys making jewelry, ribbon work, and music.  However, her favorite thing to make is software to help people and make their lives better! Rebecca lives in Queens, NY with her Buffy-loving, baseball-obsessed husband, crazy black pug, and sweetest little rescue dog.

Technology & Your Shop

shoppingColorful Village Storefront Shops Print from Anna See

The way we shop has changed – for good. How often do you walk into a bricks and mortar store, find a specific item you’ve been looking for, and buy it there and then?

If you’re anything like me, this scenario happens a lot less often than it used to. In 2013, I can walk into a high street shop and pick up a product that tickles my fancy. I can then take my smart phone out of my pocket, open up a browser and do a quick internet search. Within seconds I’ll be reading reviews from other shoppers and comparing prices from different retailers. Perhaps I’ll a post a photo of whatever I’m mulling-over on Facebook, and ask my friends for advice. All of this while I’m still in the shop!

Unless I’m in a desperate hurry for an emergency purchase or gift, I’m unlikely to get in line and hand over my card there and then. I’m far more likely to go back home, look at a few more options online, think about it for a while….. If and when I finally decide to take the plunge, am I going to get into my car and drive back into town? No! I’m going to buy online – from the shop that has the best price, the best reviews, and who can deliver it quickly and conveniently to my home.

Now if you’re thinking this scenario doesn’t apply to customers buying from independent retailers and craft sellers….you could be right. Customers buying from handmade sellers are more likely to be looking for something special and unique than searching for a deal.

But don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security. The pace of change in technology is changing the way we shop, for good. This, together with the fact that we’re still dealing with a challenging economy – mean that it’s important for retailers of all shapes and sizes to take note.

If you’re a small business with big ambitions, here are four things you should be thinking about:

  • Think multi-channel 

When thinking about how and where to promote your work, think about the lives your customers lead. Do they spend all their time in coffee shops, reading books and magazines? Or do they spend 24 hours a day online, browsing websites and checking their social media accounts? Chances are, they do a bit of both. Digital and “real” life are now so intertwined, your customers are likely browsing the Etsy app on their iPhone while sitting in a coffee shop, or reading reviews on Amazon for the latest craft books while lying in bed.

To make the most of the opportunities the digital economy provides, you need to adopt a multi-channel approach. A website is no longer a nice-to-have: it’s an essential tool for doing business online and off. Even if you’re selling to galleries and offline shops rather than direct to customers online, a professional online presence is a must.

If you don’t yet have a website and are planning to get one soon, choose a responsive design so that if can be used on different devices like smart phones and tablets. Don’t forget to include the URL on your business cards too!

  • Take a long-term approach 

In this age of constant distractions and huge choice of options online, customers won’t make an immediate decision about whether or not to buy from you. So stop thinking in terms of the instant sale. Some customers will want to research and look around. Others will want to get to know you first. So give them plenty of ways to do this by building an authentic online presence, sharing your story, and being consistent in your approach.

Crucially – make sure you’re encouraging them to sign-up to your email list when they visit your website or blog. It’s your best chance of getting in touch and encouraging them to come back if they don’t buy from you first time around.

  • Pull, don’t push 

It’s no longer acceptable (if it ever was) to be pushy and use the hard sell. How many brands have you un-followed because of a barrage of promotional Facebook updates or tweets?

The next generation of consumers are savvy, sophisticated shoppers, and firmly in control. So attract, engage…..then let them know about the wonderful products and services you have to sell. Learn to listen to your customers and understand their needs. Become the brand they look forward to hearing from because you put a smile upon their face!

  • Embrace openness 

In 2013, there really is nowhere to hide! Ratings, reviews and feedback play an important part in building trust and authority for your brand. So embrace openness and use these tools to your advantage.  Ask customers for testimonials. Make a habit of requesting feedback after an order has shipped. Let customers leave ratings and reviews.

Once you’ve done this – add a praise section to your website. Add snippets to your product descriptions and about page, even your business card. Then look out for an increase in sales!

Have you noticed any ways that technology is impacting your business and the way your customers shop? What are you doing about it? I’d love to know – leave a comment below.

clairebiowashi

Claire Hughes — Make, Do & Sell

Claire Hughes is an online marketing consultant with over ten year’s experience running campaigns for some of Europe’s biggest brands. Proud to call herself an internet geek and home-working mum, she now focuses exclusively on working with creative entrepreneurs. You’ll find Claire sharing free tips and advice on the Make, Do & Sell blog, as well as co-leading the Handmade Horizons marketing e-course. That’s when she’s not changing nappies or feeding her Pinterest addiction, of course…..

There’s nothing Claire loves more than helping talented ladies overcome their marketing challenges and achieve their wildest dreams. Why not connect with her on Twitter and tell her all about yours?

How to Gather Feedback Gold from your Handmade Customers

Have you ever sold a handmade product and never heard from the customer again? That’s an awful feeling, isn’t it? Did the customer like the product? Hate it? Who knows? Wouldn’t it be nice if every customer provided feedback about the buying experience?

More Feedback by Near Modern Disaster

If you desperately want feedback and/or testimonials for your products but can’t seem to convince customers to provide them, then this post is for you!

First, an analogy. For the purposes of this article, let’s compare a great testimonial or piece of feedback to a nugget of gold. When you think about it, feedback is like gold to a handmade seller!

  1. Feedback helps you improve your product(s).
  2. Feedback helps you improve your process.
  3. Feedback helps you persuade future customers to buy.

So how do we get this feedback “gold”? We’ve got to make providing feedback easy for our customers.

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