When you open your business to customers, as a storefront or in the digital world on social media, you take a risk: the risk of angry customers. How do you respond?
You’ll find one key advantage to social media: time. Though you should respond to angry customers promptly, you do have a few minutes to craft a response appropriate for the situation. Just take a deep breath, and use these tips:
- Take another deep breath. Read through the customer’s complaint completely, and try to understand where they’re coming from. What is their #1 complaint?
- Be prompt. Customers expect businesses to respond with online customer service within an hour. Don’t delay and add fuel to the fire.
- Don’t get defensive. Your business is your baby, and you’ve poured your blood, sweat and tears into it. Don’t take their complaint personally. Look at it as feedback that needs to be addressed—and address it as such.
- Admit your mistakes. If your employee was late or rude, apologize. Your customers appreciate it more if you are honest and transparent. Try to sandwich the negativity with “Thank you so much for your feedback. We apologize for the delay by our technician. We will use your feedback to make sure that this error does not happen again.”
- You don’t have to give them a discount, but it helps. This is a fine line, dependant on the discount you give. Be consistent with your discounts. If the problem is a shipping issue, offer them free shipping on their next order or offer to refund their shipping costs. If the product was broken, offer to ship them a new product for free. Don’t give them a half-hearted offer, like 25% on selected products or 10% off when they spend $150, so it sounds like you’re not trying. However, you don’t have to give each customer a brand new product—and you don’t have to let everyone know what you are offering. You can respond with “Thank you so much for letting us know about your issue. Please watch your ‘Other’ message folder for a message resolving your issue.”
- Run your response by someone else. Everyone reads things differently. After you’ve crafted a short response, have an outside party read it and give feedback. Make sure you use a professional tone, and don’t come off as haughty or defensive.
- Review it one more time. Before you hit ‘send’ or ‘post,’ read through your response one more time. Make sure that if a million people read your response that it would reflect favorably on your business, even if you are admitting a mistake.
- Say thank you even when you don’t mean it. Be polite even if your blood is boiling. Even if you are addressing a customer with what you see as a unique situation, your response will be seen by other customers—and potential customers.
Once you’ve responded, resolve the customers’ issue and move on. If the problem could happen again, change your business’ procedures or processes. Remember, once the encounter is done, it’s done. You have other customers to please and other products to sell. Move on into the positive side of social media, and take full advantage of this marketing tool.
All right you admit it. Your company’s website is a bit outdated. The kids in your pictures are married with children. Plus, the look of your site is clearly retro (and not in a good way), and users leave the site almost immediately because of the lack of functionality.
You need a new website. Bad.
If your pictures aren’t outdated, you think your business is in the clear, don’t you? However, with studies showing that people now spend more time online than watching TV, your business’ digital presence is more crucial than ever. While having an updated website used to be a luxury, now it’s more important than ever to watch for the signs of an aging website—and for good reasons:
- Mobile users are on your site, but can they use it? With statistics putting American ownership of smartphones between one-half and two-thirds of the population, you need to be a fortune teller and look ahead. This upward trend of smartphone usage is not going to going away, and chances are it won’t decrease. You need a mobile user friendly-website.
- You’re not listed on the first page of any search engine, or even in the top 100. Even if you can’t sell your product online, more than 90% of people start their search for a product or service using search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. Having an attractive and functional website with search engine optimization technology not only allows customers to find and contact your business, but also brings them in the door. (If you don’t know how important search engine optimization is for your business, find out in our recent blog post.)
- You need a blog. Today customers want to get to know your company through a blog, not advertising, statistics show. Show that your business is customercentric: give them the resources they need, when they need it. Each blog post also becomes an indexed page, which gives your site a better chance of higher rankings on top search engines.
- Even if your users find you, they can’t do anything. Today’s customers receive the latest information quickly, and expect the same of your business. Make sure they can contact you, ask for a quote and send you questions with clear calls to action throughout your website. Since you’ve given them that instant gratification, remembers it works both ways—you need to respond, and respond quickly.
- Your website does not represent your current products or services any more. Don’t brush off outdated information. Potential customers won’t call you, or do their research on your site if they know it’s outdated.
If your website is showing these signs of age, get rid of your business’ digital grey hairs. Update the look and feel for superior aesthetics, and add the functional aspects that keep customers on your site—and coming to you time and time again.
Relevance. How do you show your customers that your product or service is relevant to their lives?
Genuiness. How do you reach out to them personally, even when you have so many?
Consider content marketing. It’s a buzz word that’s all the craze in the marketing world. Content marketing is a philosophy, a strategy that goes beyond the traditional “Sell! Sell! Sell!” advertising. When you use content marketing as part of your online marketing strategy, it puts your business on the digital map—and keeps it there with solid tactics:
- Updated content. What is the question that everyone asks when they stop in? Give them the answer 24/7 by posting the answer online. How is your product or service relevant to their life? Post content that gives them information and shows them how it works in their life. This is your chance to give your customer service beyond a phone call, beyond your business hours. With our virtual world, this is how you can support them when they need it. Use visuals to catch their attention, and interactive content to appeal to visual learners. In addition, search engines (which judge your content when they rank the top search results) look for the latest and greatest content with on any given topic.
- Social media marketing. Your customers are online every day, checking in with their friends. Why not give them information (or a smile) as they are browsing? Become a resource for them without them having to work to get it. This is also your opportunity to get your content out into the digital world, and get visitors to your company website.
- Genuine marketing messages. Does that website content sound like it’s written by a robot? Could be. Write your content for your audience, and personalize that content for email messages to your customer.
We can hear you asking, “why does my business need content marketing?” Well, you have customers don’t you? Customers who have questions outside of your business hours. Customers who can find your business online if you use content marketing. Customers who find your website through top search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. Content marketing is a customer-centric marketing strategy that benefits your company in two main ways:
- Customer service. Updated content is available as a resource for your customers, even beyond your business hours. Studies have shown that customers expect online customer service, even through social media.
- Search engine optimization. Search engines tend to like what customers like: updated content with information that everyone reads.
If content marketing sounds out of your league, or you don’t have time for it, outsource to a marketing company that has content marketing experts. Ask your network of fellow business owners for local companies that achieve results. Put your marketing in their hands, be the perfect client (if you need advice on that, check out our Outsourcing do’s and don’ts post) and watch the results as your business shows up on the digital map.
Ask not what you can do for search engine optimization (SEO), but what SEO has done for one Wisconsin business.
Take ABC Flooring, one of our clients in southeastern Wisconsin, and what search engine optimization has done for their business. ABC Flooring came to us in March with a problem: they had a website, but was not getting enough traffic to their site.
Fast forward four months later, and their website traffic has doubled thanks to search engine optimization. In just 30 days, their unique visits increased 122%, 166% in May, and recently have hit an impressive increase of 200%.
Website traffic is just a number unless you can convert those visits to customer interest. Today, ABC Flooring receives form submissions every week, with 60% of those visits stemming from their search engine optimization package.
Their case may seem like a tale out of a story book, but the truth is that search engine optimization is necessary for anyone looking to grow their business, as you can see from the statistics behind search engine optimization. And if those statistics don’t convince you, just look at ABC Flooring’s web traffic statistics, proving that search engine optimization is effective. It’s also easy, if you start with a (free!) seo health report. Because what good is an attractive and functional website if your customers (and potential customers) don’t see it? Or don’t see it at the top of their search page?