There are many ways to fail in business. One of them is to fail to engage your customers. Today, it’s especially important to come out from behind your website and show your face on the Internet There are many ways to do this, but here are some of the easiest and most popular:
Twitter is a major social networking giant. Yes, there are is a lot of inane chatter on Twitter, but the site is also used to communicate new and interesting ideas. Some of those ideas could come from you. While it’s unlikely that you’ll get new customers from Twitter, you can engage existing customers, and offer special discounts or deals to those loyal followers of yours.
You could also use Twitter as a sort of classified ad. Instead of selling people anything directly from Twitter, send them a tweet to check out a page on your website. You could also use Twitter to get feedback about your company’s customer service, product line, and pretty much anything else you want an opinion about.
If you want a more personal method of communication, try video conferencing. Video chat used to be non-commercial, but many Internet-based businesses are finding that talking via Skype is an acceptable proxy for actually visiting the customer. This also helps to build trust and credibility in your customer’s eyes. If they can see you and talk to you, you’re less of a stranger to them.
Video chatting also allows you to accomplish something that you can’t do via email: you can see the other person’s body language. It’s true that you can only see what’s on the screen, but that’s better than not seeing or hearing them at all.
If you’re really daring, you can hand out your telephone number to clients and customers. Allowing them to text you their questions and have an ongoing dialog with them puts you at risk for text-message burnout, but it does provide a level of intimacy that’s missing from most business relationships these days.
Your customers might actually like having that kind of access to you. To keep yourself safe from receiving texts at all hours of the day, you might consider getting a dedicated phone for customer texts, or just shutting off your phone at night to avoid getting late-night texts.
Using surveys is a great way to get inside the head of your customers. Sometimes, people will tell you what they really think about you if they know that their answers are anonymous and that there’s no way for you to identify them. Many people want to tell the truth, but are afraid of hurting your feelings. That doesn’t help you at all, so consider using survey services like Survey Monkey.
Some auto responder services also have built-in survey options so that you can email people on your email list a survey. If you don’t use an email list, you can put a survey on your website, and then direct users to it. The results can be emailed to you when the user submits the survey.
Facebook, like Twitter, can be used to interact with customers. However, the difference between Facebook and Twitter is that Facebook allows you to have an entire fan page dedicated to your business. You can use this fan page to attract new fans, to engage existing fans of your site, and also engage customers in a threaded dialog. You can also send private messages to users if you want to and chat with them using Facebook’s chat client.
Like Twitter, it’s unlikely that you’ll gain new customers using the social networking site without advertising offsite. However, once you do get new fans, you can continually interact with them by buying ads and directing them back to your Facebook fan page. This keeps customers “in the loop” about what’s going on with you and your company.
About the Author: Guest post written by Elizabeth Goldman and brought to you by Wonga – the wonga.com experts.