Building a successful presence online today requires much more than simply publishing web pages about your products and expecting orders to roll in. Whether your ultimate goal is to sell services or products or simply build brand equity for offline business, it is critical that you take the time to connect with your customers. This strategy can help you build business relationships that can keep your customers coming back for years in the future. These tips will help you connect with customers online in a meaningful way:
1) Listen to (and Act on) Feedback
Many business owners complain that it is difficult to find out what customers truly want. Discovering your customers’ needs and desires, though, does not have to be a complicated task. Your buyers provide valuable feedback every day via blog comments, email, live customer chat sessions, and posts on your social media pages. You can also use Google Alerts to discover customer opinions and feedback on blogs, forums, review sites, and social media pages that you do not own. Pay attention to these comments and opinions, and act on them as you are able – this feedback can help shape your company and make it a more attractive resource for your customers.
2) Reach out to Customers Online
Some customers post their feedback freely via social media and other online content; however, others might be hesitant to do so unless invited. Actively seeking feedback by asking questions and posting polls can compel customers to share their experiences and needs with you. You can use this strategy on your company website and blog, as well as on your Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn pages and Twitter feeds. Their willingness to offer their thoughts and insights might surprise you.
3) Contact Key Customers Directly
In some cases, it might be appropriate to interact with customers publicly. In other cases, though, it might be better to reach out to individual customers in a private manner. This can be a particularly effective strategy for resolving customer concerns about your products, services, and company business practices. Responding to a complaint by contacting a customer via private message or email shows the customer that you care about her experience, and that you respect her enough not to conduct a sensitive conversation on a public forum. Similarly, responding to positive customer feedback can be appropriate – it lets the individual customer know that you appreciate his comments without singling him out for the Internet world to see.
In a time when it’s easy for customers to feel lost among the enormous amount of data published online, connecting with your customers on a personal level can do wonders for your business. It makes them feel special and can encourage not only future positive feedback, but also referrals – both online and offline.