Just because business is moving online doesn’t mean that personal service has to be left behind. Online businesses might have the advantage of an entire World Wide Web at their feet but they are often envious of their brick and mortar counterparts for their ability to offer a personalized, intimate service to customers.
But that’s all about to change. You could argue it already has. In 2013, 73.5 percent of the global online population accessed the Internet from their mobile phone.
What does that mean for business?
It means that:
And every one these serves as a touch point for you to deliver the kind of personal experience that was once reserved for physical stores.
Here are 6 Smart Ways to Get Closer to Customers Online
1) Get Social
Don’t shun the big social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Sure they are populated by millions of users and at first it might seem like you’re shouting into an empty cave. But done properly they offer the best return on investment (they’re free remember) when it comes to ways of interacting with your customers on a one to one basis.
Pick the networks that your target market use (think Twitter for commercial brands, Linkedin for B2B for example) and start crafting messages that are relevant to them.
You can improve your impact with the following tips.
2) Listen to Your Customers
How do you know what your customers want? You ask them.
Use social media and online tools to interact with your customers and find out what they want from your business, both from a service perspective and from your online activity.
When people respond – and they will – it’s vital to make their input feel valued. Thank them for their time and opinion. Follow back and build loyalty. People will see this and reward you with repeat business. Much in the same way they would if you asked a customer face to face what you could be doing to improve their experience.
3) Personalize Content
Brands are cutting through the noise online by targeting consumers with highly personal content. This is extremely effective for two reasons.
One, tweeting a personalized piece of content directly to a user has a far greater chance of being noticed and acted upon than hoping they react to generic content in their timeline.
Two, by targeting influential users (users whose opinion is respected and have a large following within your target market) you run the chance of having your content re-posted to their followers and in turn their wider network. Thus maximizing the potential reach of your content to a highly specific market.
4) Be Open
The Internet has made everyone nosey. We have become information fiends and feel it is our right to have access to anything we may want to know, instantly.
You should embrace this by offering as much information related to your business, products and services online. Not only does this build brand trust by demonstrating you have nothing to hide, but it offers an easy way for customers to get the information they require without tying up your customer service teams time with simple requests.
Think contact and location details, opening hours, returns policies, careers information and so forth.
5) Offer Mobile Customer Service
Remember how we cited the statistic earlier about Internet access via mobile technology? Well that figure is expected to grow to 90.1 percent in 2017. Your business has to embrace this by offering pathways for customers to purchase and seek support from their mobile phones.
6) Be Yourself
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, be yourself online. Taking our brick and mortar store analogy one step further, think about the independent businesses that thrive in towns and cities. It’s very likely they all have one thing in common, a great sense of brand and personality.
Don’t try to be something you’re not online. Similarly, don’t try to appeal to everyone. Let your business speak for itself, be true to your brand and your customers and they will reward you via loyalty and word of mouth (via their social networks of course…).
Original findings and insights can be viewed at eMarketer.