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9 Ways to Create Exceptional Customer Relationships Online

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For many small businesses, it’s common to have a majority of interactions with customers take place online. In fact, according to Gartner, customers will manage 85 percent of their relationships with businesses without interacting with a human by 2020.

With statistics on the side of the web, it’s important to take steps to make this impersonal platform feel more…personal. Follow these nine tips to start building strong online relationships with your customers today, resulting in lifelong fans of your business.

9 Ways to Create Exceptional Customer Relationships Online

  1. 1. For many small businesses, it’s common 
 to have a majority of interactions with customers take place online. In fact, according to Gartner, customers will manage 85 percent of their relationships with businesses without interacting with a human by 2020.
  2. 2. With statistics on the side of the web, it’s important to take steps to make this impersonal platform feel more…personal. Follow these nine tips to start building strong online relationships with your customers today, resulting in lifelong fans of your business.
  3. 3. 01. Become Their Go-To Expert Include a blog on your website to showcase your industry knowledge and educate customers on how to better use your products and services. Visitors will appreciate your expertise, potentially leading to new or repeat customers. Providing this information could also help reduce customer 
 service inquiries. SMALL BIZ DOING IT RIGHT:
 Corley Plumbing Air Electric in Greenville, South Carolina, keeps its audience engaged with blog posts related to various plumbing or electrical needs. Their posts maintain seasonality, ensuring that they remain relevant to issues their customers might be experiencing at different times of the year.
  4. 4. 02. Be Ready To Respond When a customer posts on your social media platform, be sure to reply within 24 hours — even if it’s just with a “thank you.” Social media is one of the easiest ways to engage with your customers and show them that their voices are heard. Plus, responding publicly shows that you value customer feedback and engagement. SMALL BIZ DOING IT RIGHT:
 Unique Vintage, a business that sells clothing from decades past, often helps customers find the exact piece they are looking for on the company’s website by quickly responding to inquiries on their Facebook page. Source: Unique Vintage
  5. 5. 03. Build Trust With Honesty If your company makes a mistake, handle it immediately and with respect through an email, a statement on social media or a post on your website. If you can’t fix the error, acknowledging the concern will go a long way in showing that you care. SMALL BIZ DOING IT RIGHT:
 Know Your Company, an employee-feedback software firm, discovered a glitch in its system. Its CEO personally contacted her clients and publicly acknowledged the error with a post on the company’s blog, showing its integrity. Source: Know Your Company
  6. 6. 04. Create a Sense of 
 Community Use customer success stories 
 or testimonials on your website or social media platforms. Your current customers will appreciate the recognition, and future customers will appreciate hearing directly from your clients. SMALL BIZ DOING IT RIGHT:
 Custom printing company CatPrint highlights customers’ print projects and background stories on its homepage. Not only is this inspirational for customers, but it is also a great way to show the versatility of your business (especially if you offer services applicable to many industries). Source: CatPrint
  7. 7. 05. Show Your Gratitude Nothing says “I care” more than 
 a heartfelt thank-you. Use a combination of transactional and personalized emails to ensure that every customer feels appreciated. SMALL BIZ DOING IT RIGHT:
 During each of its events, Simply Radiant Events gives a gift to its client, followed by an email the next day and a handwritten thank-you one week later. This shows the company truly values its relationships with its customers.
  8. 8. 06. Stay In Touch Make a point to update your customers about new products 
 or services, or use an email or social media message to see how customers are enjoying their purchases. This shows them that you appreciate their business and that their opinions matter to your company. SMALL BIZ DOING IT RIGHT:
 Harry Ein, owner of branded products and apparel provider Perfection Promo, periodically checks in with clients by email and phone, even if they don’t need anything. The company’s Yelp reviews prove how effective this is, as almost every review mentions the exceptional customer service.
  9. 9. 07. Encourage Feedback Find out what customers really want by asking them. Use quick surveys to gather information before you invest in new products or services. Customers are often happy to share their opinions, and they appreciate your efforts to put their ideas into practice. SMALL BIZ DOING IT RIGHT:
 ChaHoney, an online tea-subscription business, was considering hosting in-person tea-tasting parties; however, after surveying its customers, the company realized store demonstrations were what customers really wanted.
  10. 10. 08. Show Who You Really Are The Wizard of Oz was much more likeable when he came out from behind the curtain. Give customers a sense of your company’s personality by sharing behind-the-scenes anecdotes on your website 
 or social media accounts. SMALL BIZ DOING IT RIGHT:
 Sunnyland Farms is a Georgia-based mail-order company that specializes in nuts, fruits and sweets. The company’s history and details of how its orders are processed are shown on its lighthearted Inside Sunnyland Farms page, giving customers a greater sense of where their products are actually coming from. Source: Sunnyland Farms
  11. 11. 09. Share the Spotlight A business owner who shares credit with his or her employees is a business owner who cares. Feature staff members on your website or in an email newsletter to introduce the people behind your business. You can also tag or mention them in posts on 
 social media. SMALL BIZ DOING IT RIGHT:
 Instead of using standard headshots on its website, Michigan-based UpDog Yoga features its instructors and staff members in their favorite yoga poses and provides a personal story from each. Source: UpDog Yoga
  12. 12. Advice Action Inspiration Building positive customer relationships takes time — it won’t happen overnight. Ensure that every experience a customer has with your brand is positive, and you’ll gain a customer for life. Assess your customer experience and determine where you can add authentic actions that will strengthen the relationship you have with customers. “Once you create a loyal customer base, it's tough for a competitor to take that away.” — Joe Mansueto, entrepreneur
  13. 13. For more proven tips on how to engage with your customers online, visit the Staples Small Business Hub.

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