One thing that hasn’t changed where customers are concerned, is they want to feel valued. While this will not surprise most business owners, it does pose certain challenges on how it can be achieved. Of course customers want to be happy with what they purchase, but ultimately they want to have confidence in the company behind their purchase.
In order to succeed in your customers eyes, it’s good to anticipate expectations they have that are often unspoken.
Consumers are plugged in. They research companies, usually on the internet, before buying anything. They ask what other people think first – even if those people are virtual strangers. Maintaining and building a positive online reputation is critical to business nowadays. Having your customers leave positive feedback on Google+, Yelp, or Facebook will benefit your efforts.
Consumers are not only looking for positive endorsements from online communities, they also search for information that demonstrates you know your business and can truly help them with their needs.
Gone are the days that you meet your customer first and then discuss and sell your product. In today’s business environment, the “first sell” often is done before you even meet your prospective customer. Face to face meetings are typically at least the second introduction and opportunity that your company has to close the sale with a customer. When people are looking for expertise online, it is important that you and your business are readily accessible and stand out to provide that authority via “online content”.
Online content can be in short or long form. For example in the insurance industry, short form on social media, like Instagram or Pinterest, could be simple posts about areas most commonly underinsured. Ideally, your short post will peak the interest of those reading, inspire a potential customer to evaluate their own situation, then reach out to you for a professional consult. Long form content can be deployed on your company website. Long form content can be longer, more detailed articles, case studies that really show how your company worked to the benefit of the client, or FAQ’s that allow the most common questions to be answered immediately.
Be prepared for potential customers and current clients alike to reach out online or via text more often than before. This can pose a challenge for companies as communication comes in from various sources: Facebook messenger, website contact form, text, or Twitter just to name a few.
Beyond the myriad of methods of modern communication, expected response time by customers seems to shorten with each passing year. Smart phone notifications are helpful in managing the issue, but alas, it may not be enough. If you are a small agency, it might be wise to divide up the communication channels and spread the responsibility of responding among staff to be able to quickly and efficiently respond to any customer’s inquiry, no matter the channel.
If you are a one person operation, or a much larger agency, it might be wise to partner with an outside company who has online platforms built to manage multiple channels instead. These companies can immediately respond to a customer’s communication in the manner you have instructed, letting the customer know they are heard. This allows an agent time to prepare and get back to the client with thoroughly researched answers.
Don’t get discouraged at the pace and expectations of today’s consumers. These same online platforms that present customer service challenges also present expansive opportunity for your agency to be exposed to more people than ever before! Learning to use and manage online tools is essential not only to meet your customers’ expectations, but also to reach new heights of business growth.