Companies need customers, customers buy their product, hand over money, and that money goes to pay the wages of the people working for it and make the company bigger and bigger. More than just getting the customers they have to retain them, that’s a key to growing a company, that’s what you see every major company from superstore to bank trying to do, keep the customers they have.
To retain them they need to do something really important, and that’s address any problems or questions they have with the company as soon as they have them and make sure they don’t arise again. How do they do that? They keep in touch with them, they open channels of communication with them and give them the means to contact them.
However it can’t be a token gesture, and as much as you’ll see contact forms and email addresses around for companies, and now Facebook and Twitter accounts, if they don’t use them they’ll lose the customers.
If a company is to offer some form of contact on the internet, whatever the option is, they have to respond, and not only respond but respond quickly, even if it’s with an email indicating that they’ve received the message and how long they are likely to take to answer it. However they have to answer it.
I’ve contacted a number of companies of late, a few enquiring about sales, and they’ve never responded. It’s not that the email has been caught in spam as mine all goes into a junk folder and I check it before I delete it. They’ve just never deemed it important enough to answer the question, a question from a customer for a potential sale.
To me that’s a bad sign, if the company doesn’t want the sale that’s okay, but to ignore an enquiry from a customer is damaging to their business. If someone came to their offices or phoned them up and asked them the question would they ignore them, hang up the phone?
Of course not, but an email, contact form or instant message is easier to ignore for them, and that means a lost sale, not just for now but the potential customer is liable to remember that ignored query for a very long time, and may well tell others about it.
If that’s the kind of bad press your company can deal with then keep ignoring those queries.
The other thing a company has to do is answer the queries quicker than they would a letter. It’s no use putting it to the side and waiting months to answer, you’ll have lost the sale. The moment it arrives it needs to be treated with as much importance as any other form of query. The perception is that the email has arrived in the organisation seconds after it’s been sent, and it needs to be treated internally as such. When that arrives, the customer’s clock is ticking.
When responding to the query it’s all very well if they’ve utilised the communication channel for their customer’s needs and responded quickly, but the answer cannot be “call this number for the answer”, that’s something I’ve seen twice now from my mobile phone provider, to do so is seriously misreading your customer, and possibly your own business.
The customer has used the internet to contact the company for a reason, because it’s simple, quick and efficient, and perhaps they want an electronic copy of the conversation, so by responding and asking them to call a telephone service is misreading their needs, and failing to answer their simple request.
So if you don’t answer your customers queries and actually deal with them on whatever form of communication you use, you can end up losing their sale, and perhaps even making them feel somewhat aggrieved towards your company.
So if you have a contact form, an email, or utilise a social network to contact your customers, when they contact you:
- Respond quickly
- Respond via the same method they contacted you
- Respond with an answer and solution, or engage with them to find that answer