Being able to listen and understand your customers, and vice-versa, is critical in any online business.
How can you know what kind of new products people would like to see if they’re not telling you? Also, why would they tell you if you don’t ask them?
There are so many ways to talk to the people who buy your products. E-mail, phone, social media: people are more chatty than ever. But there are certain underlying principles inherent in all good customer communications, no matter how they are carried out.
A short response time is critical to maintaining good relationships to people who want to speak with you. Consider this. When you're talking with someone in person, how would you feel if they took a few hours, or even days, to answer a question or to respond to a comment you made? People like to think that the person they're talking to is paying attention to them, and the single best way to assure them of that is to respond to them quickly. This is especially important in the case of any customer complaints or service problems. People are far more likely to be understanding if they think you are actively working on the problem! On the other side of the spectrum, nothing annoys someone more than being ignored, which a slow response time might make them feel. Do both yourself and your customer a favor, whether on e-mail or social media, respond as quickly as possible.
Actively seek to communicate with your customers; you can't wait for your customers to come to you in this day and age. This might come as a surprise to you, but your customers like to hear from you, and often. Well wait a minute, you might say: don't people find constant e-mails or discount books annoying? The answer is that it doesn't matter what you're sending them or how often: as long as the customer is interested in that material. Instead of posting their opinion on your Facebook page or ranting about it during a customer service session, be proactive and ask them for their opinion! Not only will you gain valuable information about your customers that you can utilize to produce better products and marketing campaigns, but you will also make them feel like their opinions are important to you.
Be everywhere. Whether it's Facebook, review sites, forums, or chat programs, you need to make sure you are giving your customers every opportunity to contact you. This not only allows for more and better conversations, but also lets you head off potential problems before they negatively impact your online reputation. If you constantly keep your brand presence in the back of their mind, the next time they want something that you happen to be selling, who do you think they will go to first?
To summarize, the key to good communication is to communicate quickly, actively, and in as many ways as possible. Of course, there are other aspects of good communication I haven't talked about here. All the communication in the world can't help you if you insult your customers, for instance. But these fundamentals are good rules to follow in almost every instance.
How has a conversation with a customer impacted your business?