While it might be difficult to get your business’s community physically together during the current pandemic, there are still many ways you can continue to build that community both online and offline.
One thing that pet stores do really well is knowing their community. Knowing their network and knowing their pets. Coming from the pet industry ourselves, PawsEco has discovered the individual likes and dislikes of their community and their unique needs, enabling them to offer advice and solutions to pet stores of every shape and size.
Take CRM systems, for example. These systems help you understand customer behaviour on a more granular, specific level, which in turn can help you build a stronger relationship with your customers. Once that strong relationship is in place, you can foster more of a two-way dialogue that feels more like a one-to-one relationship, rather than a strictly transactional one.
At PawsECo we are constantly taking feedback from all walks of life and trying to integrate that into our system in some way. For example, we occasionally get news from the local community for an outbreak of kennel cough or some form of news from the community that other pet owners should be aware of. We do our best to make this information clearly available on our news page for retailers so that they can, in turn, pass any important info onto their customers.
Listen and take note. Everyone’s story is different and your attention to detail will go a very long way. Simply by knowing your customer’s name, you break the barrier of business versus consumer, and you should always try to go the extra mile.
Online reviews are a digital version of a “chat in the dog park” and are essential for any business trying to build a strong community, improve customer loyalty and a great way to take that community online, where it can gain momentum and grow at pace.
If your expectation is for other businesses to recommend yours, you should be doing the same.
Strengthen your position in the community by connecting with neighbouring businesses, inside and outside of your industry, they may be suffering a business problem that you can help with such as footfall or stock shortages. How about recommending a coffee spot to your pet-owning customer, for the perfect Puppacino? It comes at no cost, and who knows, you may even get a free coffee on your next visit!
Or, if your pet store doesn’t offer doggy daycare, or grooming, but you know one that does, connecting that customer to a problem-solving solution will strengthen both your relationship and name within the community, and build loyalty that assures you have their best interest at heart, and not just their custom.
Customers have specific needs, and it’s a business’ job to identify those needs and provide valuable, timely, helpful information when they need it the most. Once a business becomes a trusted source of information on a particular topic, they, in turn, become a vital part of the wider customer community.
Businesses who do this well are able to turn a transactional relationship into one of a trusted advisor. In doing so, they naturally build a community of loyal customers who are constantly telling their friends, family and anyone who will listen about how much your business helped them.
Rio Afero, Founder, PawsEco