Websites these days are no longer just brochureware. They do tell the story of your company, but more than that, they have become a vehicle for interacting with your customers.
With the advent of content management systems (Joomla, WordPress, etc), it has become easier than ever to incorporate interactive elements into your website. With the integration of content management systems with CRM (customer relationship management) systems, the web becomes the vehicle for providing the public arm of your customer service activities.
Online polls are a great way to ask questions and receive feedback. It only takes a second to answer a poll, so it’s a great way to show your customers that you care about what they think.
Allow commenting on articles within your website. If you have a product website, allow users to give ratings or feedback on your products. This provides an opportunity to learn from your customers, and a great way to show that you value their opinion.
Creating a blog gives you the opportunity to support your customers, while also sharing your expertise. If you are a service industry, let your blog extend your service and resolve problems that your customers have. A blog creates an opportunity for interactive dialogue since customers can comment on your posts. At Landau Design, the blog was specifically created to answer client questions around web design and social media. It has not only saved us time, it has established us as an expert in our niche.
Many companies offer FAQ pages on their site, but extend this opportunity by inviting questions from your customers. Soliciting questions not only gives them the opportunity to inquire, but it provides you the chance to provide great service. Categorize your FAQs into groups, which will make it easier for users to find and read them.
Are you in an industry with particularly detailed information? A self-service knowledge base has been shown to increase confidence of customers by 30% or more. A knowledge base is like Wikipedia, an encyclopedia of information that can be easily searched and found by your customers. Like the FAQs, a knowledge base can be customer-driven if you offer the opportunity to submit additional questions.
It has become really common to provide live, written support through an instant-message type of interface, also known as click-to-chat support. Many websites have “talk to us now” links, which bring up the instant message box and notify an internal sales person. This is an excellent way to interact and provide customer service.
Do you have the type of business that requires a lot of back and forth conversation to resolve issues? Would it be beneficial to have an interaction with more than just you and your customer? Message boards are an excellent way to start conversations and creating a whole community for your customers.
For example, perhaps you’re in the construction trade but many customers want help with small fix-it projects in their home. An online message board could be a way to post specific projects, which other customers offering input on what worked for them.
Providing links to your social media presence is another great way to connect. You can also pull in your Twitter or Facebook feed, which shows customers how active you are in the social media arena. While the interaction may take place off your website, your website can be the portal that allows customers to find you in the social media world.
Are there complimentary businesses to your own that your customers might be interested in? A resource database is an excellent way to share this information. You can set up a database organized by business type, and allow other businesses to input their information. Customers could then use the resource database to find trusted services, and they can also input comments and ratings on the businesses they have tried.
This would be especially powerful if your customers needed a resource database to network with each other. For example, if you were a business coach, you might create a resource database of your clientele, which offers then networking opportunities as well as a chance to interact with you.
Websites are no longer static content. Media is the new “it”, so bring some of this into your web design environment. A custom-produced video introducing your company is a fabulous way to connect personally with a potential customer. Even more trendy is what’s known as a video walk on – a person who actually walks across your website while talking about the company or the content of the page.
There are many ways you can connect with customers through your website. The web has moved into the realm of interactive media, so utilize these technologies to show your customers that you care of reaching them.
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