Think you can just “wing it” when it comes to your online customer service? Think again. In today’s world, businesses know customers are everything. In fact, one recent study showed that 65 percent of companies surveyed had the equivalent of a chief customer officer in place.
That’s because customers have a lot more choices than ever before. Brick and mortars know this. They see the change every day, as customers walk their aisles, pulling out their phones, and comparing prices with stores online. In many cases, they hit the “buy” button right there in the store, only they’re doing business with some other company.
How do you get customers to care?
How do you build up great customer service?
After all, customers remember the service a lot longer than they remember the price.
When they’re searching for your business – your services and products – how do you stand out from the crowd?
Speed Is Everything
We currently live in an instantaneous world. We want it fast. We want it now. And we never want to wait.
Ever feel agitated when you watch a page load sllooowwwwly? What can be a matter of seconds can be the difference between someone staying on a page or clicking away. We’re trained that way because of the speed of the Internet. If you’re not conscious of this, you may be losing customers.
Sit down at a desktop and pull up your pages. Do they load without trouble? Do graphics appear as quickly as words?
Now do the same with your mobile site. Is it mobile friendly? Can you click, search, and read without trouble? Or are you merely trying to get your desktop application to show up on a mobile device?
It’s not just load times; it’s response times too. If a customer wants to connect with you, how quickly can they do so?
If they fill out a form, do you have automatic response pages telling them what to expect?
Do you autoresponders in place to provide more information in email format?
Is your phone number listed prominently on every page? Do you list the hours they can connect with you every day?
The easier you make it, the less your customer has to think. And the more time they can spend clicking.
Understand Your Customers
How would you define your ideal customer? The more generic you are, the more you’re missing an opportunity.
Nobody can service the 8 billion people on earth. In reality, your business probably thrives with just a few hundred or a few thousand. What does that population have in common?
- Are they men or women?
- How old are they?
- What do they have in common?
- Are they single or married?
- What do they prefer to do in their free time?
- What do they like to read?
- What are their habits?
- What are their strengths and weaknesses?
Are you starting to see your customers in a new light? The more you “see” your customers, the easier it is to talk to them, especially with your online customer service tactics.
If they love Facebook, you can build up your page and your groups. If they watch videos, you can create them as a part of your marketing strategy. If they like to share images, why not build up your Instagram presence?
You can target them with your marketing through each of these platforms, and give them what they want.
What’s even better, you can build specific marketing platforms that reach out to specific demographics. Because we all know your 20-something clients aren’t the same as your 50-something clients. They may both love your products, but they’ll use them and love them for different reasons.
Fix Your Mistakes
There used to be a time when you could ignore the customers you have trouble with, and they’d go away. No more. Transparency is everything.
If someone has a bad experience, they are far more likely to share it online than someone with a great experience. If they have a bad experience, they’ll share it again and again – up to five times – as compared to someone with a good experience will only share it once.
Still, think you can run from your problems?
The key is to listen to what your customers are saying. Listen when they tell you face-to-face, and listen when they talk about you online. Do you have someone monitoring your business’s keywords: company name, industry, products, services. If not, why not? If someone tweets about you, you better be there with an answer. If they write a review, you better be responding. If not, they can loom overhead. They can quickly build. And they can quickly ruin your reputation.
Think Long Term
It’s easy to think of your customers as one-time sales. But customers have far more potential than that.
Let’s say you’re in the car business. A customer comes in and you sell him a brand new car. Is he worth more than the profit you make off this one-time purchase? What if you knew he traded his cars in every two years? What if you could capture that business over and over again? What was a small profit now will balloon into a huge chunk of business – providing you have a retention process that keeps him happy for life.
There are only three ways to create sales:
- Bring in new business
- Sell more at the time of purchase (would you like fries with that mentality)
- Sell to each customer over and over again
Bringing in new business is the most difficult of the three. If they haven’t heard of you, you have to build up your rapport with them.
But once you’ve sold to them, they have a relationship with you. If you take care of that relationship, you can use it over and over again.
That’s where online customer service excels.
- You can use email and text marketing to remind them of you.
- You can use Google or Facebook ads to keep your name fresh in their minds.
- You can blog content to share stories and ideas.
Online customer service isn’t difficult. But it does need time to implement and carry out. If you haven’t built an online customer service strategy that keeps your customers happy, what are you waiting for?