Toolbox: CRM, Web, retail, loyalty

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How can I use Twitter for reputation management?

"Customers are looking for companies to interact with them on their terms, not just in traditional ways," says Jeff Esposito, PR manager, Vistaprint. "This is where Twitter becomes a powerful tool for companies looking to assist customers or to simply uphold their online reputation."

By setting up a few searches on third-party tools like Co-Tweet, Twhirl or TweetDeck, you can easily monitor mentions of your company name, products or services, Esposito says. "To get the most benefit, it's important to respond to both the positive and negative Tweets," he continues. "All of your updates can be seen by anyone who does a search for you, and actively helping out customers in the here-and-now world will allow you to show consumers that you truly care about them and are there to help."


What are the benefits to listing our executive team on our Web site?

"Some companies choose to keep Web traffic focused on their services and not the who's who of the company, but if your business competes in a crowded marketplace, you are missing an opportunity to leverage another element that could differentiate your company," says Brenna Garratt, CEO of The Delve Group Inc.

"There's no need to add self-indulgent information about hobbies or career moves. Rather, allude to achievements to remove the anonymity of executives and give context to their experience," she advises. "It's often said that people buy from people, so be sure to share your best and brightest with potential prospects."


How can retailers can stay competitive and profitable in a slow economy?

"To increase the odds of exiting the economic downturn healthy, competitive and profitable, retailers need to focus on their core product and pricing offerings and successfully deliver on customer expectations and desired experience," says Thomas Safford, director of product marketing solutions management at QL2. "By using external information on product and pricing, market preferences, buying trends and competitor variances and consistencies, retailers can confidently benchmark their performance against the competition for a broader view of the market landscape."

He adds, "Today's consumers are driven by value, convenience and service experience. Customers are consolidating purchasing options from many businesses to a few they trust, so businesses that can provide a consistent consumer experience across all touchpoints will maintain and build customer allegiance."


How can I "spring clean" my loyalty program?

Spring 2009 has passed, but now is still a great time for a little "spring cleaning" on your loyalty program, says Bruce Kerr, president of LoyaltyOne US. "Spring is a time for renewal. With that in mind, marketers should avoid simply copying what 'the other guy' has been doing," he explains.

"Skimping on what you invest in your value proposition is a mistake," Kerr says. "If customers can't earn rewards in a reasonable amount of time, they either won't enroll in the first place, or they will quickly become disinterested. Too many companies forget to incorporate emotional recognition benefits that show a customer you value their business. Delivering these benefits can be more operationally challenging, but skipping this step hampers the sustainability of your program."


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