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Social Media Gives Consumers and Brands a Direct Connection

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Jessica Davis  – Enjoy! 

photo credit: Matt Hamm via photopin cc

photo credit: Matt Hamm via photopin cc

Remember a time when it was not possible to share your opinions about a specific product with others because there was no outlet. Not too long ago, the consumer was considered to be at the bottom of the pyramid. There was no way to display dissatisfaction with the services received or products purchased.

However, consumers today enjoy a very different situation, all thanks to social media. Through social media outlets, consumers have been able to easily convey their opinions – whether it be criticism or praise – about various brands. There is now an opportunity for consumers and brands to actually build a working relationship in which views can be exchanged and opinions can be voiced.

For brands, understanding the consumer and knowing what they think about the product can prove to be very beneficial. Also, brands with a strong consumer following can benefit from starting a direct line of communication through social media marketing to engage with the very consumership that purchases their products or services. Along with big-name brands and corporations, small businesses and start-up companies can also benefit from having a proper social media system in place.

Social media – a public forum

Social media websites provide a platform for buyers to voice their opinion in an open forum where their voice can be heard by other like-minded individuals. By building strength in numbers, consumers can get their point across to reputed organizations and brands, and force them to change their product through the use of social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and more. Take the recent example of consumer outrage in Canada and USA against Vitalife’s dog treats, which, according to claims are of inferior-quality and have been linked to the deaths of many dogs. Many of the consumers have banded together on Facebook, demanding that the product be pulled off the shelves.

This is just one of the many ways consumers have found for making their voices heard. Brands too, have realized the potential that lies in using social media for marketing purposes, and several brands have adopted this medium as one of their main marketing tools. Through sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more, brands can make important information available for their loyal consumership. This can include exclusive sales, promotional offers, rewards, etc., Information about the product and its production process can be shared with consumers who feel more empowered after gaining more knowledge about their favorite product. Companies can make more use of this opportunity by posting details about the product and organization along with the process that is involved in the creation of the product.

Brand-consumer relationship

There has also been a dramatic shift in the relationship between a brand and a consumer. Social media has taken power and control out of the hands of large corporations and famous brands, and has put it in the hands of the consumers. Realizing this, many CEOs and other top level executives of big name brands have taken to Facebook and Twitter to engage directly with the customers who might be buying their products.

Through the use of social media companies can chart out their marketing strategies depending on what the consumers feel. Companies are posting questions, and asking consumers to share their views on a new product, suggest a flavor for a specific food brand, and are even asking consumers to submit their art for a new logo or product cover. Businesses are not just sticking to content on social media, but also creating interesting podcasts and videos to promote ideas for new products and campaigns. This process makes the consumers feel more involved in the marketing process and the fact that they have provided some input in the process makes them trust the brand more.

Consumer interaction through social media

More and more consumers have started interacting with each other over websites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more, and promoting their favorite products on these platforms. This gives the business more exposure, and an opportunity to understand their buyers, their needs and their dissatisfaction. Businesses can gain more insight on improving their product by spotting unhappy customers early on and taking steps accordingly.

Ensuring that consumers feel valuable can help businesses stay two steps ahead of their competitors in this ever-changing market. Social media has drastically changed the marketing game for businesses. The sooner companies realize the importance of social media and the role it plays in marketing, the sooner they can start reaping the endless rewards it offers.

Jessica Davis photoJessica Davis is a Content Strategy expert at Godot Media, a leading content services company. She works with other Godot copywriters to create engaging and effective web content for businesses and individuals. She is also interested in technology, social media and fashion.

 

Why You Need Social Media for Customer Support

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Abby Perkins– Enjoy!

ducttapemarketing.com_SocialSupport image

photo credit: shutterstock

There’s more to running a successful business than having an incredible product or service. Those things may generate revenue, but to attract – and retain – loyal customers, you need to provide impeccable customer support. Companies with reputations for taking care of their customers tend to fare much better than those who leave customers hanging.

These days, companies of all sizes are upping the customer service ante by being readily available on social media. And now that the practice has been around for a while, one thing is clear: Customers love being able to interact with brands on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Companies that extend their customer support to the social media realm tend to have better reputations than those that don’t.

The takeaway? Any business that wants to provide top-notch customer care has to be active on the most popular social media sites.

Think Before You Commit

Before you get too excited about providing customer service via social media, make sure you’re in it for the long haul and will actually follow through. The only thing worse than not having a social media presence is having one that’s been abandoned.

For instance, if a customer tries to interact with your brand on Twitter and is greeted by crickets – he’s not going to be too happy, and he’s not likely to keep coming back. Your earnest efforts can backfire dramatically without follow-through, so be prepared to give it your all before you start going social.

Why Should You Have Social Support?

Like many business owners, you may have been drawn to social media by the promise of enhancing and broadening your marketing efforts. Social is certainly a great way to promote a brand, but it requires a different strategy.

Traditional marketing efforts don’t fly as well on sites like Twitter and Facebook. People on social media don’t want to be preached to – they want to engage in conversations and interact with their favorite brands. That’s why social media is such an effective way to deliver top-quality customer service.

Not convinced? Consider these benefits, for both customers and companies:

Instant gratification

Consumers are used to wading through confusing telephone menus and waiting around for email replies. Through social media, you can surprise them by responding almost instantly to their questions, comments and concerns. And this doesn’t just satisfy the customer, either. It also shows that customer’s followers – and potentially many others – that your company actually cares and is committed to handling customer service issues quickly.

Personalized – and personal – service

Consumers vastly prefer dealing with living, breathing people than with nameless, faceless corporations. Some of today’s savviest companies allow customer service reps to let their personalities – and even photos – to shine through on social media. UPS, for instance, has photos of its customer service reps on its Facebook page, allowing customers to put faces to names.

Next-level interactions

By monitoring social media for mentions of your brand, you can reach out and surprise people in positive and memorable ways. CitiBike, for instance, responded to a customer tweet about a biking mishap by sending him a gift card for a new pair of jeans. The customer responded in kind by tweeting positively about the experience. CitiBike didn’t just make his day – they benefited from the transaction, too.

Positive feedback

It’s true that people are more likely to post negative online reviews than positive ones – most people aren’t prompted to take the effort to post a review if they were satisfied with the service. But social media is different. When a customer has a positive experience with a brand, it only takes a second to post about it on Facebook or Twitter. When you actively support your customers through social media, you’re more likely to experience this positive word-of-mouth.

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People like complaining about companies, brands, products and services on social media because it feels good to have an outlet for your grievances. Brands can capitalize on this tendency by quickly responding to negative comments and working to quickly correct them. Because it all plays out in the public social media realm, it’s yet another way for a brand to market itself and promote its image.

Which Companies Do Social Support Right?

Still not convinced about the benefits of providing social customer support? Just take a look at some of today’s biggest companies to see where social support can take you.

  • Netflix is famous for offering highly responsive and effective customer service. The company trains its employees to use social media to react in real time.
  • JetBlue constantly monitors social media for customers who need help, and has earned a reputation for surprising people with its responsiveness.
  • To ensure people get the help they need as quickly as possible, Nike uses a separate Twitter handle for customer support.

If you’re looking for a way to outshine the competition, delivering top-notch customer service via social media is a great place to start. Just remember – don’t drop the ball. If you’re going to do it, do it consistently, effectively and correctly.

Do you use social media to provide customer support? Tell us about your experience in the comments.

AbbyPerkins_TalentTribune 150x150Abby Perkins is Managing Editor at Talent Tribune, a SoftwareProviders.com blog.  

 

The Secret to Getting More Repeat Customers

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Rachel Daley– Enjoy! 

So you’ve made a sale. “YES! I sold my product! Ultimate goal met!”

Mmm… not quite.

One of the most critical post-sale mistakes is to assume that your job is done once you make the sale. What if I told you that you can turn that one sale into repeat sales to grow your business?

Turns out, what you do after the sale is just as important as what you do before. The ultimate success of your business depends on a strong, personable relationship with your customer base to build trust. Customer trust leads to customer loyalty, which leads to customer recommendations, which means more customers!

So how can you get the most out the sale you just made?

Ensuring customer trust and future sales all comes down to great customer service.

In fact, 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated.

But you already knew that.

So I’ll give you another little insider secret… your customers are your friends. Okay, maybe not exactly, but this is what I mean:

Friendships take work before, during, and after you become friends.

Customer relationships take work before, during, and after a sale.

You want those repeat customers who bring in other customers. They are the life line of your business! To build that kind of security, you have to build post-sale relationships with your customers even after their payment has been approved.

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How to “stay friends”, Even After the Sale

Just think about how you treat your friends…

You keep in touch

Keep an email list of your customers so you can send newsletters with your business’s latest news and promotions to keep them in the loop. You can make things personal even by sending a mass email! Mailchimp has a great free plan, or check out Tiny Letter.

Answer all questions and respond to comments quickly! Staying on top of your social media, emails, and site comments is one of the easiest ways to continue the relationship post-sale. TIP: If you’re getting a lot of comments and questions maybe find some help to manage your social media.

You show gratitude

Remember those two magic phrases Mama taught us? Please and THANK YOU. Make sure to send a “thank you” when you receive notification of a sale. It may just a quick typed message, but it adds that personal touch even through the computer screen.

Offer a discount code to returning customers to make them not only want to come back, but also feel the love. EX: offer 10% off their next order.

  • Make things viral by getting them to share the deal with friends through a tweet. example: Yay, I just bought this item on www.shop.com and got 10% off my next order from @shopname

You go out of your way for them

Go even further and send a longer note with the product when you ship it. Bonus points if you handwrite it! Make sure to personalize each note with the customer’s name so they know you took the time.

You know them on a deeper level

Who knows what your customers want better than your customers themselves? Get to know them by asking for their input. TIP: Create an interactive quiz or ask fun yet helpful questions on your Instagram. Customers will be more likely to respond! The key is to not make customers feel obligated to answer questions because they are not paying for obligation.

Do it for free in 3 easy steps with Google Docs:

google docs survey 240x180

You respect them as human beings

Mama also said treat others the way you want to be treated. Keep that in mind and there’s your answer to how to engage with your customers before, during, and after a sale.

Similar techniques are used for pre-sales marketing of course, so these shouldn’t seem foreign to you. Just don’t assume marketing ends once the sale had been made. To create success with longevity for your business you have to create relationships with longevity. So after your next sale, follow these tips and you will gain a boost in sales and return customers that will bring their friends in no time.

Rachel DaleyRachel is the resident content wizard over at MadeFreshly. Helpful and inspirational advice for eCommerce is her specialty there, but when she’s not busy writing you will probably find her at a track meet or adventuring around California with her Canon T2i.  Follow her on Twitter.

 

9 Ways to Connect With Your Community

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Roger Connors and Tom Smith – Enjoy!

biz-community

photo credit: 123rf

Feeling out of touch with your business community? No connection, wrangling tough relationships, regularly brokering messy disagreements? Just how does a business owner or manager get back in touch and move the needle on even the most stubborn issues?

With consistent, well-practiced feedback.

Feedback is a principle that, if practiced, is the key to overcoming blind spots and achieving improved results in all aspects of your life—both personal and professional. Individually, with teams, and even entire communities and organizations.

The key: You just have to ask for it.

 

But before you gather your team or blindly ask what others think of you (highly risky without a bit of practice, by the way), consider these 9 proven tips that will help you get your head right—so you can solicit, respond to, and use feedback to succeed in business.

  1. Go after it. Feedback doesn’t just magically happen with the wave of a wand. You have to be proactive and make it happen. Stay connected with customers or prospects by seeking feedback even when you believe things are going great—sometimes what you think isn’t what is actually happening.
  2. Have courage. Seeking constructive feedback can be scary. Remember, whoever you’re asking feedback from is already thinking about your performance; you’re just hearing what they already believe.
  3. Welcome awkwardness. Remember that almost everyone fears offering feedback about as much as they fear asking for it. People worry it will backfire, and they value their job or relationship over saying anything—which is why momentum stalls in the first place. Revel in the discomfort and seek feedback anyway.
  4. Be convincing. Assure your audience, customers, even your employees that you really do want to know what they think. They need to know there won’t be any blowback from you if they honestly tell you how they see it.
  5. Get positive. Though it might be hard to believe, it’s easier for people to offer positive rather than negative feedback. You have to ask for constructive feedback. Try “What can we do better?” instead of “What are we doing wrong?”
  6. Listen. After asking for feedback, you need to do the hard part—listen. Listening can be difficult, but it is one of the most meaningful steps of exchanging feedback, and it is important that you listen to everything. Then act on what you hear that makes sense.
  7. Be grateful. Don’t let constructive feedback, no matter how unpleasant, skew your view of the person who’s giving valuable input as to how you can improve your processes. Remember: their insight could help improve performance or efficiency. Express sincere gratitude for their willingness to share in the first place (see tip #2, courage).
  8. Make it a habit. Make getting feedback a habit, not a one-time thing. Ask if it’s okay to follow up, even suggesting you meet again for a reality check just to keep yourself in line.
  9. Be nice. Finally, be nice to yourself and others. You can’t make any important changes overnight.

Right out of the gate you might want to select someone you’re comfortable with, then get started by simply asking, “What feedback do you have for me?” You might need to tag it with some context; like “How do you think we could have improved this product?” or “What improvements would you like to see in your campaign?” Once you’ve listened, don’t impulsively respond with a long defensive response. Graciously and professionally say, “Thanks for the feedback. We really appreciate it, and want to do anything we can to make your experience with our company better.” Your gratitude will signal you aren’t defensive (even if you really are) and that you are happy they took the time to share their opinion.

RogerTom_150x150Roger Connors and Tom Smith are co-authors of a new book, The Wisdom of Oz: Using Personal Accountability to Succeed in Everything You Do (September 2014, www.thewisdomofozbook.com). They are multiple New York Times Bestselling authors and innovators of the most extensive body of knowledge on workplace accountability ever written. Their firm, Partners In Leadership (www.partnersinleadership.com), helps management teams facilitate large-scale cultural transition through proven methodologies, and has helped clients produce billions of dollars in improved profitability and shareholder value.

The Key To Ideal Customer Service: Making Exceptions

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Duane Forrester – Enjoy! 
photo credit: Copyright: kbuntu / 123RF Stock Photo

photo credit: Copyright: kbuntu / 123RF Stock Photo

It was a dark and stormy night as I entered the store. I’d ordered a (geekishly expensive) camera from said store and was still waiting for it to ship to my home, a couple of states away. However, my travels unexpectedly landed me in the town where the store-that-shall-not-be-named-because-I’m-not-that-vindictive is HQd. As such, I thought I would drop by and see if I could save everyone some trouble and just pick up the camera if it hadn’t yet been shipped.

So I walked up to the customer service desk to learn that my camera had not shipped and was, in fact, in the store. “Excellent,” I exclaimed. And that’s when the help desk staffer lowered the boom (or was that thunder?):  “I can’t give it to you. It has a shipping order attached.” Knowing the intricacies of running a retail business, I was sympathetic and, instead, offered to just eat the cost of shipping myself because I really wanted to leave with that camera. In other words, I was asking the staff to make an exception to their policy.

They wouldn’t. And here’s why in today’s social, everybody’s-got-a-mic-and-an-audience world, the first point on a business’ policies list should be “Know when and how to modify policy.”

But back to the store…

Long story short, no one would give me the camera—not even the manager, not even the head of sales. The camera had a shipping order and that was that. I left the store (absolutely for the last time) without a product I had already paid for that was mere feet from me. And you can rest assured my audience heard about it.

Policy can no longer always trump customer service. In fact, plenty of companies have been “modifying” policy for years.

Look at the companies that excel in customer service. Nordstrom’s is clearly not going broke even though it accepts returns on all products – even items they don’t actually sell. Zappo’s has become the darling of internet shoppers thanks to handling shipping issues with such grace and kindness people rave about them online. Companies like Comcast and Delta have learned to use social to keep customers happy. They understand the social currency and value of modified policy.

Can you bend the rules all the time? Of course not. Even some of the time is probably too much. But if you can school your employees on business decision-making and its potential value instead of hammering home hard and fast rules, you’ll be better off on multiple fronts. Happier customers. Empowered employees. Awesome stories shared.

And in case you’re wondering, I did eventually get my camera. It’s great. But every time I shoot with it, I remember this experience and I remember how I won’t shop at this particular retailer again. Today, a couple of years after this happened, I’m in the market for another camera and simply refuse to even think of them as a point of purchase. Flexible customer service could’ve changed that.

duane-bw-fullsizeDuane Forrester is a Senior Product Manager at Bing and just an OK photographer. Say hey on Twitter:@duaneforrester.
 

5 Foolproof Tactics to Create Strong Customer Advocates

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Andrea Gellert– Enjoy! 

shutterstock_104307092As marketers, our job is to create narratives that resonate with our end-users and increase our brand’s visibility. However, whenever I ask small business owners what their best channel for new customers is, they always tell me “referrals from other customers.”

The reality is that any potential customers interested in your brand will always look to validate your marketing claims with what your current and past customers say about your brand. Social media has made finding out what those thoughts and opinions are easier than ever, which is why enlisting a small army of customer advocates can easily be part of any smart marketers overall strategy. If nurtured properly, these customers become an extension of your team and help amplify all of your efforts.

While having a great product is a prerequisite to getting great customers, it doesn’t always lead to referrals. What does is creating an experience that so delights your customers that they want to tell everyone about you. By following these five foolproof methods, you will demonstrate your commitment to your customers and encourage them to talk about your brand.

1) Go over customer communications with a fine tooth comb.

Ever received an email or piece of mail from a company that was completely tone-deaf or seemed written by a computer? Or spoken to someone on the phone who seemed to be reading from a script regardless of what you said? Your customers want to be spoken to in a way that respects their time and lets them know you understand them. You can create an amazing emotional connection through your communications, so give them all the time and attention they deserve. Be human, be thoughtful, be clear and be authentic.

2) Create conversations.

Every brand these days is on social media, but what separates the so-so companies from the rock star companies is engagement. Don’t just tweet out a press release and call it a day — tweet a response to a customer who is maybe confused about your product and is looking for information. Showing you care on social media is the foundation for all of your customer advocacy efforts.

3) Put in some face time.

There is simply no substitute for face-to-face interaction with your customers. Part of your ongoing advocacy strategy should include regular in-person conversations with your end-user — whether it’s taking them out for coffee or frequenting their place of business for an informal chat. The benefits to developing a strong rapport with your advocates are exponential in terms of word-of-mouth and social media marketing, as well as potential press needs.

4) Say “Thank you” loudly and say it often.

Nothing like waking up to a positive review from one of your customers on social media! But now isn’t the time to consider it a job well-done — rather, write a public comment praising the customer for their kind words, or better yet send them a gift or note thanking them for their efforts. Small acts like this let your advocates know you appreciate them, which makes them more inclined to continue to advocate on your behalf.

5) Admit when you are wrong.

You’re going to mess up from time to time — whether it’s not getting back to a customer quickly enough or if a policy changes and you forget to let everyone know. Remember, it’s never the problem that makes customers mad, it’s how you respond to the problem. So, if you know something you did rubbed your customer the wrong way or didn’t meet their expectations, just apologize, thank them for the feedback and work to fix the situation. Demonstrating to customers that you are bending over backwards to make things right shows how much you care about them, which can go a long way to creating advocacy.

It doesn’t matter what product or service you are marketing: if you don’t have strong customer advocates your marketing efforts will always miss the mark. Starting off with a hallmark customer experience, and then doubling down in areas your advocates present themselves (think: social media) are key to creating brand advocates for your business.

How do you create customer advocates? Please weigh in with your comments.

Andrea GellertAndrea Gellert is Senior Vice President of Marketing at OnDeck, where she brings more than 15 years of small business marketing and client service experience. Most recently, she was VP of Client Services/Operations at Group Commerce. Andrea also spent 15 years at American Express, holding key leadership positions in both the OPEN small business and Merchant Services divisions. Andrea graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and received an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern.

 

Just Work the Program

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Justin Belmont – Enjoy!
Work The Program

Photo Credit: Barber Chair

Many barbershops go beyond a simple haircut to treat customers to a grooming extravaganza. A haircut may come with a beer, great conversation, hairstyling tips, full shampoo and conditioning with top-notch men’s hair products, and a massage chair. A repeat customer will likely expect a repeat performance. Yet, if the barber falls short on the friendly conversation, if he forgets to offer a beer, or even if the massage chair is out of order, the customer may not return.

While any of these mistakes is forgivable, the customer has come to expect a certain type of haircut. As the owner of a new luxury barbershop, you would need to set the standard of service and stick to it.

Marketing is no different. Patience may be difficult in the midst of a marketing program, but if you lay out a plan and follow it consistently, you build customer confidence in your brand.

Work The Program

Photo Credit: Maplay out a plan and follow it consistently, you build customer confidence in your brand.

For example, if your social media campaign begins with three tweets per day and you begin to build an audience on this strategy, that audience is going to expect to find tweets three times a day. Along the same lines, if you only tweet once or twice a week, you may build an audience that prefers a sparse style. If you start to ramp up your daily tweets, this audience may un-follow you.

In either case, decide on a consistent strategy that is appropriate for your brand before execution. If your social media ship has already set sail without a consist heading, reevaluate the program. Start anew, but be faithful to the new program. In some ways, correcting course on a social media program may be easier than on other marketing platforms. Format is fairly standardized, making frequency the primary consideration. As long as you supply relevant content, there are relatively few corrections to be made. Traditional marketing campaigns, such as pitching media or running online advertising, may require more work to recover.

Work The Program

Photo Credit: Marketing

Whether the business is a barber shop or a new real estate investment firm, the rules are the same for any small venture. Consistency is key. The logo on social media pages should be the same as the logo on emails signatures and on the bandit signs posted around town. If you want to build consumer confidence that your business is legitimate, maintain branding across platforms to establish recognition. For example, the Nike “swoosh” branding is so recognizable that Nike no longer needs to supplement it with the brand name. The logo speaks for itself.

Inconsistencies are a red flag to audiences that something is amiss. Sloppy marketing may indicate that the product cuts corners as well. Audiences may think your company can’t handle the work, either because distractions have let the marketing program fall to the wayside or because the company cannot afford proper business promotion. No matter the cause, inconsistent marketing will elicit shaky confidence, which in turn will make customers disappear.

 

Justin BelmontJustin Belmont is the founder and editor-in-chief of Prose Media (prosemedia.com), a writing service that creates high-quality content for brands–from blog posts and newsletters to web copy and white papers. Prose (@prose) employs top professional journalists and copywriters with expertise in a variety of industries.

With a background in corporate communications, Belmont has an MFA in Writing from Columbia University and was formerly an editor at Google.

Why Live Chat is a Powerful Sales Tool

It is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Sunir Shah – Enjoy! 

As you read this article, potential customers are browsing your website, looking to buy something from you. Lost, confused, skittish, they will abandon your site before buying anything.

If only you had talked to them in time.

If you still think live chat is just for technical support, you’re in the wrong decade. As your ever present salesperson on every page of your website, the new live chat finally gives online companies that shop floor presence the average customer needs before buying.

What live chat has become

bonobosWhen I say live chat, I’m talking about the chat tab in the corner of websites like BonobosHipmunk, and Birchbox.

I’m talking about live chat that is immediate and personable, where real humans answer questions and provide helpful, actionable information. The kind of live chat that provides you with direct, one-on-one conversations with customers.

It’s no surprise that a study conducted by Shopify showed that chatting customers were 3 times more likely to become return shoppers and had 48% larger order sizes.

Why Live Chat Improves Sales

A customer clicking through from search or advertising is not a loyal customer. They just want to know, ‘What’s in it for me?’

Live chat gives you a chance to show you’re more than a landing page by being there, answering their questions, and If you’re not online to answer that question for them, customers will move on to the next website that can.

By simply initiating a chat, a customer instantly qualifies themselves as a lead.  That one-on-one interaction gives you the opportunity to answer a question or solve a problem that converts them from ‘lead’ to ‘customer.’

More importantly, you get the chance to delight them with an amazing experience that might win you a future and returning customer.

How to rock live chat

Be available. If you’re going to do live chat, you need to staff it. Not answering an incoming chat is worse than not answering the phone. It’s gives customers the same feeling as when walking into a store and not being able to find a salesperson.

Make it snappy. Customers expect immediacy, so aim to respond to their first message in under 30 seconds. A few seconds more and they could be on to the next store. Even a simple hello will get the conversation started.

Make it human. Fire the robots. Burn the scripts. Let your staff be natural when they’re helping customers. Like this Netflix customer support rep who managed to delight the customer with a deep knowledge of science fiction programming. This is a chance to build a relationship with your next loyal customer.

Prepare your team to sell. Train your staff to know solutions for common problems and problems the customer hasn’t yet considered. Ideally your operators are good listeners and strong critical thinkers, able to solve immediate problems and anticipate future needs based on conversation context. Share transcripts of good and bad chats to show your team what works and doesn’t.

Practice starting chats. The beauty of live chat is you can see who’s on your site and what pages they’re viewing. You can initiate a sales conversation by posing a targeted sales opener. For instance, if they are looking at bikes, “Hey, we have a big selection of mountain bikes. I can help you find the right one. Are you staying near the city or going offroad?

Close the sale. You can lose a lot of sales at order and fulfillment, either from customers who lose faith in the purchase, don’t trust you, or are having problems. Set an automated rule to initiate a chat for any customer that hesitates on checkout, such as “Hey, want to know more about our money back guarantee?”

Big Finish

There are tens of thousands of companies just like you using live chat for sales. Like Farms Technology, LLC, which uses it to approach sometimes introverted farmers with useful product information. Or WhoIsHostingThis.com who uses live chat to establish trust and build a rapport to boost sales.

Live chat is a powerful, if not the most powerful, sales tool you have. It’s the only tool that lets you talk to customers while they are shopping on your website.

It’s immediate, helpful, human and more like a real world sales experience than any other online channel.

‘Carpe Chatem’ – seize the opportunity in each conversation to win a customer and close more sales.

 

Sunir 1Sunir Shah is a marketer, developer and startup guy who loves making the Internet a more glorious place. Currently he’s the Chief Marketing Olarker at Olark live chat where he spends his days winning markets through engineering and his nights losing Settlers of Catan.