Many companies in technical fields have moved to offer live support personnel on their websites. It is something every company, in every industry, should strongly consider adopting. If your operation is too small to do this, plan an elaborate routing process so that customer inquiries make it to a live person rapidly. Then ensure that your personnel know that every second counts. The goal at my real estate company is to respond to every form inquiry, and every email inquiry, within 30 seconds of it arriving on our computer.
Follow-up to customer inquiries need to be well planned and well trained throughout the customer service and/or sales departments. Most companies throw a volume of sales propaganda at prospective customers who only want an answer to a question, and this leads to poor conversion and lost opportunities.
Seek first to understand. Be curious. Our first responders need to be prompt and the primary goal is to get the prospective customer to reply to the response. Every good conversation requires give and take, and it is imperative that this first customer contact begin as a conversation that can be cultivated into a long lasting customer relationship.
Our customers give us hints at what we need to know in order to facilitate a great experience for them. Whether it is through direct communication (the questions that they ask) or through deduction (as an example, deriving the occupation of the consumer by taking the time to read the signature block in an emailed question), we must pay attention in order to find what we need to relate better to the customer.
Seek common ground
Commonality, or common ground, is a wonderful way of building trust in a new relationship. Our sales staff has been taught to establish commonality with prospective customers in order for the customer to identify with them. We need to be able to do the same thing in an email “conversation” that we once did during a verbal conversation. Any time there is an opportunity to strengthen the trust component of the relationship, it must be embellished.
Short Conversational Dialogue
If you were to ask a group of children to demonstrate how they communicate with each other through cellular phone texting, you would gain a great understanding of the evolution of written communication. Our customers do not expect the Queen’s English, but they do expect prompt responses.
I still require proper spelling and grammar from my sales personnel and customer service employees because I want to emphasize professionalism (competency) at all times, but speed and simplicity are the heart of a properly executed customer communication.