How to Handle Your Online Business Queries
In today’s digital, fast-paced society, businesses are confronted with more queries than ever before and more channels by which to field these queries. Social media, especially, has increased the rate at which queries are received and also the pace at which companies are expected to respond.
Does your business actively respond to the queries it receives online? If not, you may be missing out on a wide range of opportunities, including the chance to build relationships, diffuse conflict situations, increase sales and foster customer loyalty.
Here are five best practices to ensure that you handle your online queries in the best possible way.
It may sound like a no-brainer, but there are businesses who fail to respond to the queries they receive via their website and social media pages. It is important to give online channels as much attention as any traditional customer service channel.
Just as you wouldn’t ignore a customer in your place of business, so too is it essential to respond to the queries and feedback you receive online. Whether it is good, bad or neutral, each point of contact with your customers provides a wealth of opportunity and warrants a response.
Respond as soon as possible
Customers will be expecting a response to their query, and a fast one at that. While you can set the parameters for your social media engagement, by stipulating the times when you will be online and available to attend to queries, always endeavour to respond to customers as quickly – and as accurately – as possible.
A good rule of thumb is to respond within the hour. Should there be a query that requires more time for gathering of information in order to give an appropriate response, let the customer know when they can expect to hear back from you – and make sure that you follow through on your word.
Have a plan in place
It is important to formulate a customer service strategy for dealing with online and social media queries. This will include answers to the ‘when’, ‘where’ and ‘how’ responses will be made. Although you may be faced with many different kinds of queries, it is worthwhile to prepare pre-written responses to the more frequently asked questions that you receive.
Not only will this save time, but it will also ensure that you communicate accurate and consistent information across the board to all your customers. In saying that, be wary of giving an outright ‘copy and paste’ response every time. Each customer is unique, and deserves a response that is tailored to their specific situation and/or needs.
Be personable, yet professional
When crafting your response, ensure that you keep your ‘brand voice’ top of mind. Be personable by addressing the customer by their name and writing in a friendly, conversational tone. In the vast virtual world, you can stand out simply by being ‘human’, however professionalism is always key – especially if you are faced with less than desirable feedback.
In these instances, remember to not take things personally or give a hasty, emotionally-charged response. Rather remain calm, think your response through and stay solutions-focused.
Know when to take it offline
While you should always respond via the channel where a query was made, there are instances where it is best to continue the conversation off-line. If there is a serious problem, let it rather be solved via email or telephone especially if it is urgent.
If the query requires specialised input or opinion, you may ask for the customer’s contact details and have a relevant team member continue the conversation from there.
It goes without saying that the person responsible for responding to your online queries needs to be customer-orientated and trained in the skill of customer service. They should also have sufficient knowledge of your business products, services and processes.
As the mouthpiece for your company, they play a vital role in cultivating your online relationships and can either make or break how your business is perceived online.
How can Online Innovations Assist You?
At Online Innovations, we are dedicated to responding to your online business queries in a manner that is timeous, accurate and true to your brand voice.