Here is a list of common touch points - points of interaction that your business has with customers - that can take your insight - and service - to the next level.
1. Sales receipts
Yes, believe it or not, this is a way to interact with your customers. I mean, what else are they guaranteed to have in their hand at one point or another? Write a more personal, customized note on sales receipts as opposed to simply slapping your logo onto generic forms. If you can't do that, create stickers or custom post-it notes to add to the receipt by hand (if the sale is in-store). Ask questions, encourage customers to contact you via email or the web; if you collect email addresses (why aren't you collecting email addresses??) encourage them to sign up with a call-to-action on the receipt. And of course, be genuine and thank them for their business.
Put a survey up on a free service like Survey Monkey and encourage feedback with a prize for completing the survey. Ask questions about your products, the variety, the price points, service, delivery time - these tools are available: USE THEM!!
Use any piece of material that gets into your customers hands to drive them to your website or sign up with their email (see sales receipts, for example). You don't need to send them a weekly 10-page newsletter. Quite the opposite. Make it occasional but GOOD! Make the content count. Create interest. Ask questions. Encourage interaction via social media. CROSS PROMOTION of all your touch points is key.
4. Social media
If you are using social media as just another platform to blast information AT your customer and target audience, you need to stop NOW! Balancing information with your sales pitch is essential to have any traction in social media. Think of this platform as a way to share with friends. Encourage conversations, ask questions, comment on things of interest to your area of business. Don't be afraid to contact people directly through replies or shares or comments - that is why those features were created!
Just because you are a business and represent your brand, doesn't mean you can't interact like a human. In fact - that is highly recommended. Once the dialogue starts flowing, you can use social platforms for feedback as well. Show new stock, preview products coming in, create excitement.
Contests, coupons, quizzes are also easy to create and post on social media sites.
5. In person
First and foremost, make sure you are 100% focused on the customer you are serving. Secondly, when they are paying for their purchase, why not have a quick question prepared to ask during the process? Might as well put that chit chat to good use! Ask them if there is anything other product they would like to see stocked. Ask them how often they come into the store. Ask them what they purchase most often. One question asked to each customer can yield some great insight and it isn't much of an intrusion since they are already engaged and in a conversation. Just don't bombard them with an impromptu game of 20 questions; save that for the survey I mentioned above.
The takeaway: These are some simple yet effective ways to take your engagement with your customers to the next level. It really comes down to listening...really listening, and not being afraid of what you might hear. But that's a topic for another post. :-)
Best of luck!
PS - How about signing up with your email on my site? You'll receive notification first about these awesome little posts to help your business grow by connecting better with your customers. :-)