I’ve learned some big lessons the hard way these past 2 weeks. If you haven’t heard what happened to me (and how you can prevent it happening to you) then get the background story here.
In short, our web host who we had a wonderful working relationship with for two years, went AWOL. Totally missing from the planet and so are our web sites.
We have numerous niche web sites and 2 HUGE web sites with an amazing amount of content. They were backed up….or so we thought. We learnt the hard way that following the back up instructions that came with our membership software does NOT backup your entire site. All of the images, audio files, videos, etc etc..all gone from the net.
Anyway, I don’t want to talk about the negative lessons I have learned through this. Not today. I’ll do that later.
Today I want to share with you an incredibly positive lesson I have learned from this experience.
I Have Not Lost A Single Customer!
My web sites have been down for more than 2 weeks now. I expected a huge exodus. I fully expected to open my Pay Pal account and see row after row of the word “cancellation”. I expected disappointed customers demanding refunds.
I’m sorry I under-estimated you.
All we had were 2 people at the beginning of the month who cancelled because they spent too much at Christmas. They were sad to leave.
In fact, believe it or not, I have been getting emails from people asking where they can sign up and Wonderful Web Women is not live yet.
Why Are You So Loyal?
This is a question I have asked myself over and over these last 2 weeks. I’ve been shaking my head in wonder and gratitude. I’ve been trying to work out what has made our relationship so special so I can share the secret with you. I want you to experience the same loyalty and friendship from your customers.
I think I’ve worked it out. Well, part of it. I think it comes down to two things.
Authenticity and Connection.
I don’t know about you but I’m not very good at being other people. I certainly learn and am inspired by other people but I’ve never been good at copying their style or pretending to be someone I’m not. I figure if I’m just myself the people who like my style will hang around and those that don’t like me will go away.
This is risky, because if you are going to be the real you in such a public space, you allow yourself to be a bit vulnerable. But if you take the risk and let people see your strengths and weaknesses, then you can have the second element I have identified.
One of my friends made a comment when I was first lamenting my predicament (and what I was going to do to turn it into an opportunity). He said “Janet, the strength of your business is in your relationships, not your web sites”.
You know, he’s right. And this is where the strength of your business is too.
So let me give you an exercise.
Grab a pen and paper (or a spreadsheet).
Now I want you to think about the different groups of people (or relationships) that are important in your business.
Here are mine:
- Leads: (people who I have had a connection with but no money has exchanged)
- Customers: you know who you are (big hugs and thanks)
- Clients: I differentiate this from customers as these are people who have purchased multiple products or have worked closely with me as private coaching clients
- Joint Venture Partners: These may be people I have created products with, they have promoted for me or I have promoted for them in the past.
- Support Team: In my case this is my team of virtual staff who I totally rely on to keep my business ticking over.
Now I want you to think about the different ways you communicate with them.
Here are mine:
- My weekly newsletter and special message emails
- My blog (which has an rss feed you can subscribe to, which also feeds into facebook)
- Emails people send directly to me or my team
- Skype (only ever for JVs and support staff)
- My Web Sites (big sob here)
Why does this matter?
Different people will connect with you in different ways. There are some people who I have developed a great relationship with via Facebook or Twitter but I know they very rarely open my emails.
Other people will reply personally to my newsletter but won’t leave a public message on my blog.
The important thing is, when it comes to your relationships and how you communicate, you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket. Spread yourself a bit thinner. That way, if you lose one or more of your channels of communication, you can still connect with your customers and other key groups through the other means.
You will notice that the first thing we did was get my blog back up so I had a way to communicate and for you to comment back. Then I went to Twitter and Facebook (actually I tweeted and wrote on Facebook about getting the blog back up).
I already had wonderful support before I even sent my first email out to my list.
The important thing with all of this communication is to return to the first point. Authenticity. Be honest and real in your communication and you will be rewarded with wonderful loyalty from the people you connect with. Those connections are REAL relationships.
And in business relationships equal cash.
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Janet Beckers is the host and founder of Wonderful Web Women.
An award winning on-line community recognised for generous and honest marketing advice for women on the internet. She is also an international best selling author and multiple award winner, including Australian Marketer of The Year 2009.
To learn from the most successful women on the internet through live webinars, masterminds and forums absolutely free, visit http://www.WonderfulWebWomen.com and join today.