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Surviving The Minefield Of Online User Interactions

Estimated reading time: 7 mins

Running your own business can be an incredibly rewarding experience. From having the chance to make money for yourself, to being able to provide others with jobs and a means to live, there are loads of benefits when something like this is successful. Of course, though, along with this, customers aren’t always the easiest to deal with, and this is the other side of the business coin. To help you, this post will be exploring the work which needs to be done when a small business is working to improve its ability to get through online interactions with customers. It’s never been easy to start on the right side of the people buying from you.

Communicate Well

Customers don’t like being made to wait around, and they certainly don’t enjoy being given confusing or cryptic answers. This makes it important that you start this whole process with the right kind of communication. As the first element of this, having a place on your website which covers written support is essential, as it will make it far easier for customers to find the answers they need. Not only will this make them happier, but it will also keep your lines free for people who might have more serious concerns. Of course, some people will still call, either way.

Along with ensuring that you make things easy to find, it’s also a good idea to make sure that your customers have plenty of ways to get in touch. Phone numbers, email addresses, and even more modern options, like live chat, will all appeal to different kinds of people. By providing as many of them as possible, you will be able to keep everyone happy, and this is a rare achievement in business. Thanks to only phones requiring all of your attention, adding more contact methods don’t have to mean employing more people.

Set A Script

As your business grows, it will become more likely for you to have people working for you who will be interacting with your customers. It’s crucial that people in this position know how to talk to your customers, maintaining a professional attitude and being able to follow a script which you will set out. This script will cover what your employees should say in a range of dodgy situations, ensuring that customers always receive the same kind of support. This is especially easy with communications which are handled by email or phone, as you can have your employees use simple copy and paste commands to fill out their text boxes.

Without this sort of support in place when you’re employees are communicating with customers, it will be easy to fall into the trap of giving one person something different to another. While it is unlikely that is ever going to come out, it will make your company look very bad if it does, especially if people think there is a negative reason for the varying levels of service. Along with this, it can also help your staff when they are put on the spot by customers. If your script ends up becoming quite complicated, it could be worth giving one or two training sessions to get everyone up to scratch.

Value Your Customers

Customers will always be extremely receptive to the way that you feel about them. If you show them contempt or lack of care, they will quickly become annoyed, and this is understandable. To avoid this, working to offer customer service which is focused on people is crucial. Too many companies find themselves in trouble with the public when they act like they don’t care about those using them, with mistakes ranging from ignoring complaints to being outright rude. Of course, this should be nice and easy to avoid, and you can get some perspective by simply thinking about how you’d like to be treated by the businesses you interact with.

Failing to handle this properly can have some severe consequences, with businesses almost always struggling after they’ve had to go through it. While the internet brings a lot of benefits to companies, it can also be a big detriment, with review websites influencing a lot of people’s online spending. If you find yourself in a tight spot with this, hiring an online reputation management team could be a great idea. Not only will they be able to offer advice to keep your customers happy in the future, but they will also have the knowledge to improve the mark which has been left over time.

Avoid Petty Arguments

While most business people would agree that the customer is always right, this isn’t because the people you’ll be selling to are always going to be factual, but, rather, have to be treated as if they are on the high ground. For example, if a customer doesn’t like the time it has taken for an order to arrive, and it is still well within the delivery window advertised on your site, there is no point in having a debate. Instead, by apologising for not offering delivery services which don’t match their needs, you will disarm their assault.

Some customers make this harder than others. You will get those who will be happy as soon as you solve their issue, making them nice and quick to handle. Along with this, though, you will also find those who are simply out for an argument, and this is where the situation can get tricky. People can be very frustrating, but you always have to remain calm. If you are rude someone like this, they will quickly spread the word, and the public won’t care that you were also treated badly. This is something which should be included with the training which you give to the people who are working for you.

Keep On Message

Not all of the interactions you will have are going to be private, though. In fact, when it comes to talking to customers, most of this will be done on social media and your own website. This can be a dangerous place to do business, with a lot of companies struggling when they say the wrong things, and users on these sites being extremely picky when it comes to the content they see. When you business has nothing to with politics, for example, it wouldn’t make much sense for you to have the occasional posts which are focused on this area. Instead, you should always work hard to keep your posting as consistent as possible.

This goes a little further than keeping your content entertaining, with the chance to create another mess here, especially if you struggle to keep your ideas consistent. The posts you make will be a reference to customers seeking information, and this means that the information you give them has to be correct. This can be surprisingly hard to achieve when you’re not keeping it on your mind. When you give out two different sets of information, you will look very unprofessional, and may cause confusion amongst your customers, forcing them to get in contact with you.

Use The Right Words

Finally, as the last area to think about, it’s time to consider the words you use during your online interactions. You have to be careful with this, as people are easily offended, and companies which make this sort of mistake will often live to regret it. If you appear to be discriminating someone, they will be very upset. Likewise, if you use ambiguous terms which don’t give them much information, they will become frustrated. This can be applied to loads of different types of communication. Failing to take this seriously will cause a lot of trouble, damaging your reputation, while also making it harder to get new customers.

If you need help in this area, there are loads of companies out there which offer online courses in customer service. This sort of resource will teach you about the different words customers will respond to positively, giving you the tools you need to use the way you speak to support you. Of course, if you have a whole team who are all in contact with the people buying from you, these people will also need to be trained, but you can do this yourself once you have the knowledge under your belt. Once you’re able to use words correctly, this whole process will become easier, and you won’t have to worry about making small mistakes.

With all of this in mind, you should be feeling ready to take on the challenge of getting through the minefield of online user interactions. As time goes on, people are building higher expectations of the businesses which they work with. Even when someone buys something small, they expect to be given the best treatment possible, and this can put a huge burden on companies like yours. To overcome this, you will need to work hard, but it will all be worth it in the end. Of course, though, you can’t stop with this, as the ever-evolving online world can change at any time.

 

About the author /


Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

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