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Managing customers online vs offline

Managing customers in an online environment is most definitely not the same as doing so offline. In non-internet environment you are faced with things like body language, social cues and the like which give you a clue as to what people are thinking. You can always tell if a customer is angry over the phone but unless the use CAPS in an online environment it's just not that easy. So how can you manage customers over the web? Here are simple things that have helped me.

1. Watch for people who are likely to cause damage

Emails are the stuff of nightmares. Keep a close eye on people who are coming at you from an accusatory point of view. If you have done something wrong then your probably deserve it. Read the language on your communication and look closely at the words being used. An example:

"I logged on to your website and I can't get the widget to work."

The customer is asking for help. But notice the looming threat. If you don't please this customer then the chances are they will end up not returning or worse spread a negative word of mouth virus. There can be nothing worse. Try and walk the customer through the problem or failing that point them to a page where they can find the information. You won't keep everybody happy but if you don't make an effort to manage those that may be a problem it will turn into a disaster.

2. Don't get angry at jerks

There are plenty of reasons why selling stuff online is much worse than the tradition varieties.One thing I have noticed is that would be customers think the web means they can say whatever they like without fear of persecution. People are much bolder online and may resort to tactics and practices that they wouldn't otherwise in another environment. When you cop a verbal blast from a nasty person remember point 1. deal with it in a calm manner. Repeat the complaint and begin moving the customer toward a solution.Let's face it. Some people are just jerks. You will not win with these people no matter what you do. However, in the event that you are targeted you can respond in a mature, sensible manner that will keep you out of trouble.

3. Answer your email and read your comments

If you are in business and would like it to be profitable I would wager that you need customers to do this. Remember validation is important to all of us. Always respond to customers email and always read through comments that people have taken time to right. You might say, 'well I don't have time.' That says to your customer base you are just there to make me money and you couldn't give a damn. The people that make you successful (your employees and your customers) are the most important thing you have. They need to be treated fairly and with respect. Do this simple thing and over time you will get a reputation as a 'customer friendly' business and that is good for word of mouth.

4. Give customers a chance to participate

The web is the perfect atmosphere for creating a platform where customers can get involved. Only the most arrogant of entrepreneurs have ignored these modern trends. If the web 2.0 hype has taught us anything it's this: always, always, ALWAYS make room for the user. There are number of new platforms emerging that are entirely customer driven. Take Jonathan Coulton as just one of many examples. How can you add these participation strategies to your business?

Remember this people make or break any business. If a business fails it's because of people I guarantee it!

Posted in Newspaper Post Date 04/13/2016


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