Keeping in touch

As my ramblings continue I have turned some of my thinking to how we communicate with our customers/potential customers when they are looking at our products online.

I start to wonder if we are changing the culture of the purchaser and we as sellers and marketers, need to adjust the way we expect our customers to interface with us.  If we sell online, then surely we are open 24/7?  The customer wants to communicate with us, at their convenience, not ours.

How do we do that in a realistic sense.  Many online traders can’t provide 24/7 opening hours.  If you product is a simple choice then most people are going to be able to purchase without assistance.  On the other hand if you sell a technical item, or a product with multiple variations, then the customer may need some help.

This got me to thinking about the way we interact and what options are there?  We have the traditional telephone, but you need someone to be on the other end of that, with enough knowledge to answer the call, so that is not going to be there 24/7 in most cases.

What other options do we then have?  I have seen a number of businesses starting to use SMS as a way to communicate with their customers.  This is more of a register your interest request, that is then followed up in business hours, but at least the customer does the first portion of the interaction in a time that suits them.

Obviously email plays a significant role, but with the onset of more spam, stricter filtering rules, more and more businesses, I think, are struggling to get their emails back to the customers that matter.  A number of my customers have reported sending quotes and updates to customers, thinking they have got through.  Upon followup they find they never made it, in some instances loosing them the sale.  I use Infusionsoft, no advert, it is just my choice, there are plenty of others out there, but worth a look if you are not running a CRM at the moment.  When I send out a marketing email I can see if a customer has opened it.  That gives me just a little more peace of mind and helps complete the life cycle of the sale.

Screen grab from Infusionsoft showing emails that have been opened by the customer.

Infusionsoft Screen Grab

Then we move to web chat / live chat.  This I think is probably one of the most exciting developments and I am seeing a great level of success with clients that are embracing this.  The ability to instantly chat with your customer as they are on the website, brings immediate answers and improves the sales experience.  With apps that can be installed on smart phones and computers, it is possible for businesses to increase their opening hours with little overheads.  Again my current personal choice is PureChat as it is cost effective and has a great set of features.

What are your thoughts on the best way to keep in contact with customers in an ever changing market place – do let me know ?

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