The next time you are shopping online for a product, take a moment to go to the reviews and read a few of them. Some will be effusive in their praise and some will express utter disappointment. The thing is when you purchase something online or contract with someone to perform a service for you, often reading the reviews is the only human interaction that takes place. It is entirely possible, in this world of 8 billion people, to conduct business without seeing the face or hearing the voice of another person. What sets businesses apart in this internet age is that some entrepreneurs make the digital world just a little more human. That person’s customers enjoy the humanity they experience, even if it is just the smallest reminder that real people are present and available. Here are a few ideas about how you as an entrepreneur can bring some humanity, and customers, into your business.
Answering Your Phone is the First Step
Everybody has a phone. Most of them are digitally enabled. Whether they are or not, they are vocally enabled. Rather than allowing incoming calls to route to voicemail, answer them. Nothing is more impressive to a potential client than when an executive actually answers the phone. Certainly, there are times when you cannot answer. Rather than letting the call go to a machine, why not engage a service, specifically a virtual receptionist? An answering service that office this type of assistance is good for business in several ways:
- Live voice services can take orders, refer problems and interact with clients as they have been trained.
- Since 83% of your customers will not even leave a message, you have a much better chance of collecting information and reconnecting by using a live service.
- A virtual receptionist conveys an image of vitality, industry and growth to customers.
There is a Reason It is Called Social Media
Websites, even the most interactive ones, are fairly cut-and-dried. The most life they show is a customer chat function. Social media, on the other hand, gives you an opportunity to interact extensively with your community and with potential customers. The subtlest—and most effective—advertisements on social media are not ads at all. They are the photos and videos of you demonstrating that you know how to have fun, that you are community service-minded and that you are approachable. Social media is both evergreen—part of what you post is perpetual—and timely—showing you as you react to the ongoing changes in the world. One caution: remember that customers are very perceptive regarding the things you say and the opinions you express. Be careful not to offend those whom you want to be your customers one day.
Different Industries Require You to Be a Different Person
These first two suggestions are fairly generic. Beyond general observations, however, it is important to remember that the specific industry you are a part of implies that you act in certain ways and perhaps avoid acting in other ways. For instance, if you are a medical provider, you will know that HIPAA privacy rules are very specific in what you can discuss and with whom. This does not relieve you of the necessity to be as humanly connected as possible. If you wish to use an answering service to keep in contact with your clients, you will want to engage with those who are thoroughly trained and certified in HIPAA protocols, such as Voicenation. The same principle is at play with other industries as well.
Always Take Time for the New Client
The need to present a human face in this digital world is an ongoing challenge. There will always be duties and distractions that may prevent you from holding to this priority. One writer has suggested a way for entrepreneurs to maintain that interactive, customer-facing humanity: make certain that you invariably engage with new clients personally. Perhaps your business is far too large to allow you to speak individually with every single new customer. In such a case, you could establish a protocol that allows you to regularly interact with new customers on a daily or weekly basis. Reminding your clients that you are a real person will create an attitude that pervades both customers and employees.