by Kevin Stirtz
Every day the Internet makes it easier for people to connect. Employees, customers, friends, family, neighbors…you name it. We have more technology than ever before that can help us reach out to people. If we choose to.
And that’s a big problem for many businesses. They choose to NOT reach out to customers.
Actually it’s worse than that.
Too many businesses ignore when customers reach out to them. Every day businesses are served up piping hot customer engagement opportunities and they walk right by. They ignore their customers’ attempts to connect and converse with them.
When someone reaches out to you and you don’t respond, it’s like not returning a high five.
The other person has put time and effort into trying to connect with you. They’ll probably be frustrated (even angry) when you fail to respond. They’re standing there with a hand in the air and you let them hang.
Not a great way to engage a customer.
At breakfast recently, I was talking with my dad about online reviews and their importance to businesses for customer loyalty and marketing. His comment was “businesses don’t respond to reviews.” (He said this with a certain amount annoyance.) It wasn’t a big deal but it did taint his opinion of the businesses that never responded to his reviews.
Think of the billions of dollars businesses spend to PUSH their messages to people, most of whom have no interest in what the business offers.
Now think of how easy is is to simply reply to someone who as already started a conversation with you. All you have to do is RESPOND.
There are few things in the business world that offer a better ROI than responding to customer’s online reviews and other social media driven conversations. Because people who post reviews and start online conversations want you to respond. They are thrilled when you do.
A recent study by Harris Interactive supports this:
“And 47 percent of all people under 35 said feedback from a business owner, such as replies on Facebook, Twitter or an online review, were more influential than a friend’s recommendation.”
The good news is this is easy. All you have to do is:
1. Be aware when people are talking to you via social media.
2. Respond in a genuine way.
By monitoring sites like Yelp, Google Places, CitySearch and other review sites, you’ll know when people post reviews about your business. By tracking buzz in Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn and others you can monitor conversations about your business. And you can back these up with some simple Google Alerts to make sure nothing gets by you.
Then all you have to do is respond when people reach out to you. For help managing online reviews, see this article: 10 Ways to Turn Online Reviews into More Loyal Customers. For help using Twitter, see this guide.
Now, start paying attention to the Social Web. Know when people are trying to connect with you. And then respond quickly and authentically. Your customers will be thrilled and they’ll do more business with you.