Customer Relations and Feedback Opportunities
Preferred Customer Clubs
Grocery store chains, such as Safeway, have preferred customer club sign-ups with regular discounts on everyday purchases. Safeway stores regularly advertise a preferred card price side-by-side with their ordinary prices on items such as peanut butter, breakfast cereal and produce. Safeway and CVS Pharmacy are two companies that offer preferred customer membership free of charge, but some retailers charge a fee to join.
At sign-up time, you usually have the option of joining a preferred-customer e-mail list. With some preferred cards, there are extra incentives for providing e-mail addresses.
Customers Talk Back
Retailers offer you many ways to tell them what they're doing right -- and what they're doing wrong. Many companies provide space for online reviews, suggestions, chat rooms and forums and customer surveys.
Amazon.com has a large number of customer reviews for its products, all submitted via Amazon's online review interface. One Amazon customer who was unhappy with his Casio G-Shock watch warned users of poor battery life and hard-to-reach customer service. Right next to his review were ones submitted by satisfied G-Shock customers. This kind of uncensored customer feedback is possible at many sites, but most require an e-mail address and other sign-up information before you're allowed to post.
Customer Service Chat Rooms
Customer relations at Internet hosting company Liquidweb.com include a chat room function. Using this function, they can talk to Liquidweb's sales team to resolve billing issues, open new accounts and request support information. Customers click on a "Chat With Our Sales Team" icon in the upper right corner of the screen, automatically opening up a chat window. Users type questions and receive answers in much the same way as on AOL Instant Messenger or other Internet chat services. Liquidweb.com doesn't require a customer username and password for chat, but if you need technical support, you'll be required to supply that information.