The Age of the Customer®, Part 16: Your customers have connection preferences
One of the markers of the digital age is the proliferation of handy electronic connecting tools, like email, text messaging and social media platforms. And as with any element of our lives where there is an abundance of choices, over time we establish preferences.
These days there are actually two preference scenarios in play with regard to the digital connecting platforms:
- How we prefer to connect with family, friends and business associates; and
- How we prefer to be contacted by businesses for order follow-up, and with information and offers.
The preference rule of thumb for connecting with family, friends and associates typically depends upon the generation. If you prefer email, that probably means you've been in the marketplace for a few years - Baby Boomers and much of Gen X. If you prefer texting you're probably under 30. And if you prefer social media, you're definitely under 30.
In the second scenario, where customers give a business permission to connect with them electronically, preferences are still evolving. So recently, we asked this question of our radio and Internet audiences: "When you give a business permission to contact you, which digital method do you prefer?" The results were instructive.
The response we received from those preferring a business contact them by email was overwhelming at 95%. All the rest, 5%, preferred to be contacted by text messaging. That's right, not one of our respondents preferred to be contacted by either of the two social media choices we offered, Facebook or Twitter.
It's not surprising that email won the preference race; it's been around the longest of the digital platforms. But even though texting came in a distant second, and social media didn't even move the digital needle, believe this: These options will grow as preferences for how customers will want your business to contact them.
Your website is becoming less of a destination for customers and prospects, and more of a distribution center to them. The future success of your small business will depend heavily on asking for and getting permission from customers to "Follow me home" digitally.
And you shouldn't care which digital method customers prefer you use to contact them. Your job is to make all the prominent digital connection options available wherever customers find you, and then do what your customers prefer.
Jim Blasingame is creator and host of the Small Business Advocate Show. Copyright 2011, author retains ownership. All Rights Reserved.