Consumers have upped their expectations of companies. This comes back in what they expect from your products, but also in the additional services that come with it.
This could be free shipping and returns, or delivery that can be scheduled at no additional cost, or extended warranty, or additional support.
As consumers might have a great user experience somewhere else, they will turn around and start demanding that everywhere else. And this increased expectation can be found quite obviously in the way consumers expect they can communicate with a company. Consumers nowadays deal with a multitude of platforms that far surpasses traditional ways of communicating.
For a company not to participate is to give in to the competition who is adapting. Not being there where the consumer is trying to reach is essentially saying that you don’t understand your consumer or you don’t care enough. Here are some of the key ways you need to be present for the consumer.
A website, in most cases, is mandatory. And a word of advice, if you do it, do it well. Avoid getting someone building websites from his parents’ basement. Get a professional to build a proper website that represents what you stand for. After all, your website is your calling card and can make or break someone’s idea of you.
Make sure the website is finished (avoid the whole ‘under construction’ trap), it has functional information and try to inject a bit of personality.
A website doesn’t need to be everything in one go. You can approach websites as versions, where you decide on the core purpose first. Build that first and make sure it's complete before even thinking about the next step. Remember, great websites and great brands aren’t built in one day. It takes time to create something truly amazing.
Although we live in this fantastic age of chat and Twitter, also make sure people can still reach you on the phone. This means making sure someone can pick up the phone when someone calls (you could also outsource this) and that this is done in a representative way.
Think about what kind of numbers you want to use and display. Usually, freephone numbers, such as 0800 ones, help to give your company a more professional look. If you are not convinced, check out these 3 reasons your business needs an 0800 number.
In the end, being able to speak to someone on the phone is still for some people a deciding factor to do business with a company. So make sure you are reachable and that when you do pick up the phone, you hit every mark in customer-focused service.
You might want to up your game and get some chat or WhatsApp going. Now we are firmly into the new age. A live chat on your website really says that you care about the customers’ queries and want to make it as easy as possible for them to get in touch. Make sure the chat is reliable and that people can connect to it regardless of what platform they use.
A conversation is a great way to promote consumer interaction, but if done poorly, it can really do damage to your reputation. Alternatively to the chat, and avoiding having to invest in building a chat infrastructure, you could just opt to use WhatsApp. One of the great things about WhatsApp is that it’s easy to get going and you can reach consumers directly on their phones.
This also makes things easier for consumers where they can message your business and just await a reply. You could get bot scripts running to provide a good feedback loop, such as an acknowledgement of receipt of a message and an indication when someone will reply.
Another arena where consumers want to see their companies active on social media. This could be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or elsewhere. Just make sure to pick a platform that suits your company. I.e. Instagram is excellent for companies where their products are great subjects (or props) for photos.
Facebook is excellent for building and communicating with communities and get them to become your brand ambassadors. Twitter is great for service companies, where they can keep their consumers abreast of information and, where needed, have a direct communication line via DMs.
The risk with social media always is that it turns into a complaints channel, so you will need to make sure to have a strong social media team that can navigate the negative stuff, be decisive and actively promote a positive conversation on your channels.