When you get as excited about technology and how it can affect and improve your business as we do, you can sometimes run the risk of going more man than machine, especially when it comes to interacting with your business. Running an online business means that you already have a barrier between you and your customers, and you don’t want to make that worse by forgetting how to inject a little humanity into how you do things. Here are some ways to make sure that you don’t lose the heart you need.
Have A Face
If you’re running a small business, then you might think that it helps you look more professional to present the brand as a faceless, business-only kind of organization. However, when it comes to building trust in your business, it can be vitally important to let people know that, yes, there are real humans operating things behind the scenes. For that reason, it’s a good idea to have an “about us” page that not only describes what your business is about and what your aims are but also introduces you as the owner of the business. If you want your privacy, for one reason or another, then that’s only natural, but it’s something worth considering.
Customize Your Emails
If you send emails to your customers on a regular basis, then you want to avoid any opening lines such as “dear valued customer.” Of course, customizing the name field at the top of the email isn’t a new trick and most customers recognize that it’s automated. However, you can take email personalization much further than that, such as having it use their browsing and purchase history to recommend resources, blog posts, and other products that they are much more likely to be interested in. The more customization you can put into your emails, the more likely that they are to genuinely feel like you’re talking directly to them and not to your whole mailing list.
Write In A Friendly Tone
From the words that you use in your emails to the copy on the website right down the blog posts, you should mind your tone. There are some businesses that work best with an upright, formal, and competent tone. Technical businesses that need to show how much they “know their stuff” benefit from this approach. However, most business 2 customer brands will do better if they can show that they have a friendlier side. Writing in a friendly, even slightly informal tone of voice can help a lot, as can making sure that you’re addressing topics that are sympathetic to the needs of your customers. If you’re writing any content, you need to be keenly aware of who the audience is and what the best way to communicate with them is.
Make Customer Service Personal
If you’re running an online-only business, then you should make sure that your customers have some method of reaching out for the help that they need. One of the best ways to do that is to have live chat functionality on the website that your team can use to offer immediate support to those browsing it. However, you can go a step further and make it even more personal with web video chat software. This can be especially important in B2B companies, where your clients might expect a hands-on approach. It can allow you to help customers feel as if they’re truly getting your time and focus when they can see that you’re willing to be there, in person, helping them.
Free Up Your Customer Support
What can prevent your customer support team from being as personal as they might like to be? Having too many support tickets to deal with. They can’t offer customers the time that they need to feel listened to if they have ten other customers in the queue waiting for them. This can be fixed in a variety of ways. You can hire more support staff, for one. But one relatively low-cost option is to create online guides and resources that your customers can use on their own to find the answers that they need,. This can be, for instance, a step-by-step FAQ section that offers solutions based on the perceived problems of the customers. However, you want to avoid annoying customers by gatekeeping them from support too much, so it’s crucial to always offer them the option of getting directly in touch.
Remember Your Customers
Your customers are going to feel much more valued as individuals if you treat them as individuals. Of course, you can’t expect members of your support team to genuinely remember everyone that they talk to. You can make it so that they don’t have to, however, with the help of a cheat sheet. Customer relationship management software can help you save every detail you need to remember about your customers, including past interactions with them. That way, your team can quickly read up on their file so that the customer doesn’t have to explain themselves time and time again.
Be Natural And Be Social
You might be careful with the language and tone that you use to represent and that can be important, there’s no doubt about that. However, you need to know that different platforms demand different levels of formality (or informality) depending on what kind of audience is there and what they expect. While it’s not right for all brands, when leveraging social media, it can pay off to use a more casual and even comedic tone. Being more organic in your interactions with the audience and replying to them live can make it feel like they’re dealing with a living, breathing person, and not just a brand. Of course, if you’re running something like a B2B business that offers quite serious services, then this might not be the right approach for you. Exercise some discretion.
Send A Little Love With Deliveries
If your business revolves around fulfilling orders that customers make online, then a little gesture of appreciation can go a long way. A thank you note, especially a handwritten one, with every delivery can really seal the deal. It can also encourage a positive emotional response, even if it’s a minor one if you include a little treat such as a little bag of sweets with the order, as well. You don’t have to go wild and invest in sending a hamper of fresh fruit with every delivery. A little touch here and there is all that it takes to start building positive mental associations with your brand in the mind of the customer.
Make Good Use Of Your Own Customers
The personal approach doesn’t always mean that it has to be you or your employees being personal with your customers. Sometimes, the best personality to leverage is the personality of your own customers. Including real testimonials on the website can offer a host of benefits to your business. For one, it can lower the defenses that customers might come with already prepared. Most customers are going to have some level of critical skepticism when it comes to your direct marketing messages. However, having someone else espouse the benefits of your brand can lower those defenses. Plus, it offers positive social proof. When people see other people supporting your business, it’s more likely to make them believe that your brand is worth supporting.
Ask For Their Feedback
Incorporating the feedback of your customers is one of the most crucial ways of improving your online business, as they are the ones whose perspective matters the most when it comes to increasing things like conversions and brand loyalty. However, while feedback gathering tools can be great for collecting large amounts of data, it can pay to take a more personal approach. You can ask your most loyal customers if you can get in touch directly and ask them more personally about what they like and what they would improve about the business. Not only do you help them feel especially valued, but you can publish the results, showing the broader customer base that their opinions do truly matter.
Most importantly, what makes customers feel connected to a brand is if it sticks out in their mind. Going that extra bit further, taking the opportunity to help out more than you usually would, and sometimes even taking a loss to make a mistake right can help you make a real impression on the customer. When you’re memorable, you’re not only more likely to see their ongoing support in future. You’re also likely to experience the benefits of positive word of mouth. Your customers are your best advocates, you just have to make sure that you’re trying hard to give them something to advocate for, and going the extra mile can be just what you need.
While online business does offer a lot of benefits when it comes to the convenience of businesses, you want to make sure you don’t sacrifice the warmth that comes with human interaction. The tips above should help with that.