It is no secret that the introduction of the online era was a real “game changer”, for almost every type of business and continues to evolve rapidly. As a matter of fact, so rapidly that even myself with an online marketing company in San Diego, struggles to keep up sometimes. It can be seemingly impossible to always know the expectations of consumers and how they like to communicate in today’s digital world. Questions like, where are people now? Myspace, probably not, Facebook, maybe, Twitter, probably, Yelp, probably, ect ect. The real answer is that they are everywhere and the stakes for being good at communication are higher than ever, due to the fact that most of these interactions are happening online and very publically.
There is a lot of talk about “social listening” these days and I cannot stress the importance of this and how it can truly set a business apart from their competitors. Many SMB’s out there are still treating social media and the net like it is television, basically spamming people at every chance they get. This is not the right approach. Of course you may get some short term results, but people are looking for genuine interactions from the businesses they work with. A two way street not a one way ally. I have seen studies claiming the expectation when an issue is brought up on Twitter, is now response time is under an hour! WOW, it’s hard to imagine that as the expectation, right? Maybe so, but the reality of the situation is that we do not get to choose our customers’ expectations, only work to help align them with realistic ones, via great communication.
How to you make sure that your customers are aware of your great communication efforts? You stay consistent and effective in your communication. Do not respond in 10 min sometimes and 10 days others, this will only confuse the situation. Although not always possible, keep it within a reasonably consistent timeframe to get back to the customer. Concerning effectiveness of communication, make sure your responses are positive and related to what they are talking about. Consumer will side with consumer every time, so getting into a public argument is not going to win you anything. If someone has an issue that cannot be easily resolved in the review process, publically offer your best contact information and a time that they can call to discuss the issue. However, remember you can’t win them all and we all probably know which ones those are.
Long story short think about the interaction you would like with a business and model yours after that idea online. Remember that everything stays public for the most part and anything you type can and will become public even if that is not the intent. Focus on customer service online just like you would offline and your customers will love you!