For a variety of reasons including to keep operating costs low, many businesses now operate online with no physical premises. While this may be great from a cost-cutting standpoint, it makes it more difficult to build customer relationships compared to brick-and-mortar stores where you have face-to-face interactions. The internet however offers opportunities that if harnessed can help build strong customer relationships. Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Engage on social media
Be strategic in selecting your social media platform of choice and be active in engaging with your customers. Go where your customers are, you don’t have to be on all the social media platforms, just on those in your customers’ favour. Most companies are already doing this which is laudable.
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2. Lead with generosity
A great way to build new connections and rekindle old ones is to share what you know and what you have. Offer people your time, skills, expertise or whatever it is you think will be beneficial to them. Freely share tips, and advice, help through updates and also respond to individual concerns that may be raised. Don’t focus on what’s in it for you, focus on how you can be of help to people. If you are helpful, they will come.
3. Respond quickly
Listen to your customers and respond to them as fast as you can. Customers who feel like they are not listened to and their concerns are not given immediate attention will have little loyalty if any. This solidifies to your customers that your brand can be trusted and relied on to deal with issues. Recent research found that airlines that responded to customers’ tweets within 6 minutes earned delighted customers who were willing to pay more fare. Quickly responding to customers results in happy customers who are even willing to pay more. Win-win.
4. Show your human side
Allow your personality to seep into it. Don’t fall into the trap of strait lacing yourself into conventional notions of formal professionalism so that you lose all of your personality. Lighten up. Share the occasional joke, blooper, and candid moments you come across at work or with the rest of your team. Adopt a fun and friendly tone.
Also, show people some behind-the-scenes videos or pictures of you working. For example, if you are a chef, maybe share some video of you prepping meals that you will shortly be sending out via a delivery service. Streaming features like Facebook Live and Instagram Live are great for this.
5. Make the most of collective feedback
Social media users are a lot of things, shy and reserved when it comes to expressing their opinions isn’t one of them. Your customers will loudly and emphatically as a unit give you feedback about your organization and your products. They will call you out for practices and services that they are unhappy with and consider sub-standard, unethical, unfair or even exploitative. Listen to their collective pain points and make the necessary adjustments. Use social media tools that help you track comments about your product even when they are not directly targeting you or directed at your handle.
Consider this building of customer relationships as a long-term project which will keep you from getting discouraged along the way. Focus on being helpful to your customers and serving them to the best of your abilities. Listen and respond promptly. Show them your human side and don’t be afraid to lighten up a little. All this will go a long way in elevating your customers’ perception of you and building customer loyalty.
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