Bring your online customer service down to earth

3 min read
Maxym Martineau

What companies come to mind when you think of consistent and excellent customer service? Are they there for their customers, like good neighbors? Even if you do business online rather than out of a brick-and-mortar store, you, too, can demonstrate exemplary customer service. Just because your service world might be virtual, it doesn’t have to be distant and unreachable!

People are people, not numbers

Do you have online chat capabilities? If so, reach out to your customers when they are browsing your site so you can get to know them and understand their needs. Start a conversation and treat them as you would want to be treated.

If you talk with your customers and treat them with respect, they’re more likely to become repeat customers — not just one-time buyers.

Even if you don’t have an online chat interface, make sure you have forums where customers can ask questions and leave suggestions for your business. Most importantly, respond promptly and sincerely to show them that you’re truly listening. Go here for some tips for responding to customers on review sites.

Share your knowledge

Sometimes, it can be frustrating trying to explain the intricacies of your business to your customers. They should just know, right? Wrong. They often don’t know — that’s why they are coming to you.

Think of that next explanation as an opportunity to make a customer for life (not to mention a chance to better your communication skills). For example, try rephrasing the way a product works by putting the lingo in terms people outside your industry can understand. Use examples and analogies that will help clarify the points you’re trying to make. Be a teacher and a friend.

When you effectively communicate with your customers, they feel like you’re not just hearing them, but actually listening to their questions. Never miss an opportunity to share what you know — monitor FAQ forums, post blogs with hints and tips about your trade, and make yourself available either with a support number or email contact page.

Treat customers with loyalty

You can’t expect to receive loyalty from your customers if you’re not willing to give it. The majority of small businesses with established customer loyalty programs say those initiatives bring in more money than they cost to maintain. Referral discounts, rewards points, repeat-customer coupons and other loyalty incentives can be powerful tools for building enduring business relationships.

And, when necessary, offer refunds or some variation of in-store credit — along with reassurance that you take your customers’ business seriously and are willing to go above-and-beyond to make sure they’re satisfied. These type of interactions help solidify relationships when interpersonal connections are next to impossible.

It might sound cliche´ but it’s true: nothing is better than happy customers — customers who feel like their business with you was more than just a sales transaction. Their good experiences are the best forms of marketing — all it takes is a post on Facebook® or a tweet about your extraordinary services and your online doors will fly open with eager customers seeking to share their friends’ experiences.