Just as a shopfront is important for showcasing your business to customers, your online presence is the virtual shopfront for your business, and this extends to more than just your website. As with everything in a business, your online presence is a part of the bigger systems and customer service policies you already employ, even if you don’t think about them! Online experiences are part web sites, part social media, and all customer experience. An inviting, consistent online presence keeps customers happy and gives them a pleasing user experience.
A website is just one part of your online presence.
Your online presence also includes:
- Social Media
- Web site(s)
- Emails to customers
- Anything of a digital nature!
Your presentation as a company online is just as important as how you present offline. As a business, you already take care to have irresistible products with attractive displays and friendly staff. Do you check and make sure your customers get the same experience online?
Your Branding should be on Everything
Your branding should be replicated on every part of your business. Your emails, social media, web sites and newsletters should all carry the same colours, fonts and voice. Your customers should know instantly if they are looking at a piece of your messaging, and your business details should be obvious and blatant. If you have spent time and money to develop and great brand, then show it to the world!
That consistency across multiple platforms will make your business look more successful and reliable.
This also means you need to keep your branding up to date, if you get your branding redone, make sure you update it on all your different platforms. If your branding is out of date on one platform, it can make you look a little sloppy or your customers may think it’s a scam.
Email is an important tool
Every communication should be carefully checked for excellent customer service and thoughtful responses to replies.
How many of us have received a response that didn’t resolve our issue, but the customer service officer was so terribly polite? I once worked in an Internet Service Provider who hired staff from around the world, and while their customer service was excellent, their problem resolution skills were terrible, and their ability to diagnose issues was low. In your business, does your customer get an easily understandable response? Is their problem resolved, and can they read the message you sent them?
Email responses to queries require careful formatting in the same way web pages and blog posts do. There is no point in sending a carefully worded wall of text if the customer can’t read that and never takes the steps to resolve their issue. Take a moment to make your emails straight forward and easy to read.
Don’t forget every email is also a calling card, so remember to keep your logo and contact details in the signature section at the bottom.
Everything is easily shared
One aspect people forget about online is that everything is easily shared. If you have a bad day and send a cranky email, the old rule of marketing that unhappy customers tell 10 people is no longer true. Unhappy customers who copped an earful through email will find your business, and leave reviews, telling hundreds, if not thousands of people. And if your email was spectacularly awful, then images of your email can also easily make their way into common spaces like Facebook or Twitter. While you want to get traction and go viral, aim to do it with the awesome benefits and features of your products and services, not with bad customer feedback.
Not all press is good press…
Reviews are sacred
Reviews are so easy to create these days, and most platforms will not let you delete negative reviews! Customers will often google your company before purchasing, and they will check the lowest score reviews before they check anything else. This is an excellent opportunity for your business - the way you handle a negative review shows potential customers how you think, how you deal with problems, and what they can expect if issues arise during the project.
Depending on the volume of reviews and the platform, negative reviews can also add legitimacy to your business. If you found a product you hadn’t heard of and every single one of the 500 reviews on their website was 5 stars, would that give you confidence? A couple of reviews where people didn’t have a good experience, eg. their order was lost in the mail, but if that also includes a thread of you following up and making sure they get their product, that is worth more than ten 5 star reviews.
If you ignore negative reviews, you are missing a chance to shine. In response to negative reviews, take a thoughtful and measured approach.
Determine what the actual problem was, and then find a way to make your customer feel heard, and resolve their issue if possible. Future clients will appreciate if you handle detractors with grace! Remember customers are people, and they know that sometimes things happen outside of our control, so see if you can improve their experience and turn that impression around.
When things to get out of control
Have you ever had a post go viral? It’s often the goal for many business owners using social media for marketing purposes, but if your company did go viral, would it be ready? If your website is with a small host and you suddenly get a large number of visitors, your website might go down, and you might be out of pocket for additional data costs. With all the new customers poking around your website, reading your tweets, and looking at your Facebook, is it something you are proud of, or feel that it accurately reflects who and what your business is about?
Is there any form of customer retention - a group, a page or mailing list that they can sign up to for future advertising?
This means checking if everything is up to date and reflects who your business is, have you been putting off a website update? Maybe get that started now. Have you changed locations recently, and have all your platforms got the updated address or do you risk people going to the wrong place? And if you’re planning a big marketing push, let your web developer know if there’s likely to be more traffic than usual so they can plan and prepare for it.
Key Thoughts for the Day
Stepping outside your own experience to examine the experiences of your potential customers is a necessary step to ensure your marketing and branding is calling to the right people.
As an added bonus for spot-on marketing, if your company did go viral, you could rest comfortably knowing that the right segment of people would feel welcomed and at home, and would be retained through your contact form, newsletter or group. After all, a great customer experience is worth talking about! If you need help developing an engaging, interesting web experience, talk to us today!