One of the main principles – if not the principle – of business is that you have to have a good rapport with your customers. The customer is what drives your business, so an unhappy customer is going to lead to a very unhappy profit margin. You can have the absolute best products and services, but if your customers aren’t happy or simply aren’t impressed with your business, then all of the stellar products in the world aren’t going to make a difference.
Creating satisfaction takes more than just offering great products; it takes a certain level of involvement and devotion to the customer. Learning how to do this isn’t hard – you just have to know where to start.
Consumers love to communicate: They rave about great businesses that provide reliable or downright cool products; they praise those that seem to be giving something back; and you can most certainly expect them to voice their complaints. When taking your business’s website into consideration, you have to avoid thinking of it as a static thing that doesn’t interact with people.
Your website is meant to do more than simply offer products and services, and then process orders. Think of your website as an intermediary that enables discourse between you and your customers – something that’s extremely important in eCommerce. It’s not like it is with a physical store; you can’t stand in front of someone and discuss what your business offers and answer their questions.
Even though they’ve opted for a different means of shopping, online consumers still crave this sort of interaction (we’re all still people after all), and you’ve got to provide a means of interaction for them.
One of the best ways of doing this is by setting up a customer support center online. You’ve likely seen plenty of examples through your own online forays, so you can be sure that there are many ways of making your business accessible to consumer needs and concerns.
The simplest thing to do is to set up an email account specifically for customer’s questions, but you can even go further than this. People like a sense of instant gratification, especially when it comes to shopping and other business endeavors. If you can provide a way for questions to be answered in real-time, such as through an instant messenger program, customer satisfaction is going to certainly increase.
The more time that you add to the equation when it comes to solving a customer’s issue, the more likely it is that they’re going to look elsewhere for their business. Not to mention the fact that this damages your business’s reputation. Not everyone can have a 24/7 customer service center available, but you could have one or two people set up to provide real-time online service during specific working hours.
Interacting Through Social Media
A business isn’t just about buying and selling; it’s also about creating a certain image for the company. Most business owners have a distinct idea of what they want their company to represent, the needs they wish to fulfill, and the way in which they want to viewed by the public.
This more intrinsic side of business can easily work side by side with efforts to increase a company’s visibility and reputation, thus resulting in greater sales. The best way to do this these days is through social media. We live in a very global, interconnected world, one where everyone shares anything and everything with everyone else.
Views and opinions pass from one person to the next very quickly, with people interacting on both individual and group levels. Businesses can get in on this interaction through social media in several ways.
Platforms to Use
Firstly, platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and even Tumblr allow businesses to interact culturally with their consumer demographics in real-time. Why is real-time so important? Businesses – especially larger ones – can easily come off as very cold, inhuman entities, created an almost abstract impression with people.
If you’re able to interact with individual people, and they with you, then there’s a true sense that your company isn’t just some faceless giant, but is run by other people just like those who view and purchase your products.
Creating a cultural link between your business and consumers gives buyers the impression that your company and what it offers mirrors the beliefs and lifestyle types that they identify with, making them more likely to turn to your company when looking for the types of products or services you offer.
Branding for Social Media
This cultural connection also goes a long way in creating a very distinct brand image. Building a brand image is very important, no matter the size of your business or the sort of reach you’re trying to get. When someone sees your logo, slogan, or your product, you want them to immediately know that it’s your business it’s associated with and for them to have an immediate idea of what your business represents.
What you’re looking for is the ability to create instant reactions that leave a distinct, memorable impression on consumers. It’s this memorable impression that’s going to get them coming back to your company’s website as well as telling others about it.
More importantly, you have to keep in mind that the idea of brand image today is different than what it used to be. Consumers associate your brand with the sort of personality your company conveys. Since you’re trying to impress upon them the idea that they’re people interacting with other people, and not just a store, you have to be able to offer something that feels more personal.
Going One Step further
Blogs and videos are some other great options for interacting with your customers. Running a blog gives you the ability to get more information across to consumers, whether it’s content that’s just meant to be interesting and entertaining or is designed to be helpful in some way.
An appealing blog that is continually updated in a timely manner also gives people a reason for returning to your website. Once they’re viewed your blog, it’s far more likely that they’ll also check out your products to see what new merchandise may be in or what kinds of deals may be offered.
Even if you don’t have the budget for creating commercials that can be featured on television, you may have the budget to create content that can be uploaded to a site like YouTube. Creating a YouTube channel for your business allows you to expand your business’s visibility in a way that doesn’t have to feel like some kind of retail gimmick.
You can create content that helps consumers visualize what they can create with your products, or even offer up short films that are entertaining or thought-provoking. Put together, all of this will create the best customer experience you could possibly provide.