Customer interactions are the lifeblood of your business because they humanize your brand. When customers feel they’re engaging with a person rather than a faceless corporation, they enter an emotional relationship with your brand that fosters a strong sense of loyalty. As a result, finding ways to interact with customers on an emotional level is what allows you to build a vibrant and growing community.
While some ways to interact with customers are obvious and effective, like email, we’ve elected to focus on showing you 7 ways of interacting with customers that are highly effective and often under-utilized!
1. Webinars/Live Streams
In today’s digital world, visuals are everything. This means that FAQ sections and blog posts on their own aren’t enough to get your point across. Live streams allow your customers to interact with you in real time, giving you the ability to communicate in both a one-to-one and a one-to-many approach at the same time.
This two way communication allows you to answer questions and educate customers in a way that text-based information can’t. Live streams give your customers the ability to ask questions that are specific to their experiences, leading them to build an emotional relationship with you as the face of your brand. This type of emotional relationship is a key factor in customer retention, as well as overall customer satisfaction.
How to use webinars and live streams
One of the best ways to use live streams is for the launch of a new product or feature. Hosting a live stream helps build hype while also giving you the ability to clear up any questions customers might have.
An excellent example of this strategy in action is when Run Gum launched their Kickstarter for Run Gum Extra Strength. They spent a half hour answering customer questions about the new product and the business in general. This small investment of time paid off big, as they were able to exceed their Kickstarter goal of $20,000 to bring the product to life!
With over two billion monthly active users, Facebook is a necessary communication channel for your brand. Through organizational tools such as groups and pages, Facebook makes it easy to gather large groups of like-minded customers and form a community. Building this community allows you to quickly and effectively share important information with your customers about what’s going on with your brand, but also allows its members to interact with each other and discuss your products.
How to use Facebook for customer interactions
The first thing you should do is create a business page for your brand. This will allow customers to message you if they have questions and gives you a place to share information about your products.
What makes Facebook even more powerful is the interaction that your customers can have with you through their likes, comments, and shares. These interactive abilities transform a Facebook page into a Facebook community, and enables you to engage with customers on a more personalized and individual basis.
Erin Condren has built an amazing Facebook community of over half a million people who love to interact with the brand and give their feedback! Facebook is the perfect place for them to share new products, chat with customers who love their brand, and create a sense of belonging to a caring community. By creating a brand community on Facebook, Erin Condren is able to interact with customers on a regular basis, keeping them loyal and in love with the brand.
Did you know that 500 million tweets are sent out every single day? Even though it’s one of the oldest social platforms, it still remains a highly effective way to share your brand’s stories with new and existing customers. Just look at Wendy’s, who’s sassy social persona has been part of many viral tweets including the most retweeted tweet ever.
However, for most businesses the real value of Twitter comes from its ability to resolve customer conflicts. Customers have come to see Twitter as a sort of help desk where they can get in touch with brands to get problems resolved. Whether it’s because they found a hair in their food or an airplane is delayed, Twitter represents an excellent opportunity for companies to interact with their customers and solve their problems.
How to use Twitter for solving customer issues
The key to using Twitter for conflict resolution lies in your response time. When customers have an issue, the sooner you can get it resolved the more positively they will view the interaction.
Airlines are an excellent example of this in work. From Southwest Airlines Twitter account, passengers rarely have to wait more than 10 minutes before receiving a reply. When you’re stressed out in a foreign city, this rapid response can make a world of difference and leave you feeling that they actually care about you and your personal experience. This builds a sense of satisfaction that will ultimately influence your decision to do business with them again in the future.
4. Instagram & Snapchat
With the emergence of Millenials and Gen Z’s as major purchasing powers, it makes sense that your business should be looking towards the future. By interacting with them on platforms they use regularly like Snapchat and Instagram, you increase the likelihood that your business will continue to grow for years to come.
“47% of Gen Z consider Snapchat to be their favourite social media, followed by Instagram at 24%”
- Business Insider
The commonality between these two social mediums is that they rely heavily on visuals and video to get their messaging across. In fact, posts that include images produce 650% higher engagement than text posts, making visual marketing the future. By creating engaging visual marketing material, you can ensure that you’re reaching and engaging your younger demographic effectively.
How to interact with your customers on Instagram and Snapchat
For Snapchat, the idea of creating branded content is still quite new which means its an excellent opportunity for your brand to get a head start on the competition! Whether you post behind-the-scenes Snapchat stories of product photoshoots or you create a unique Snap filter, there’s tons of new and interactive ways to get customers excited about interacting with your brand!
For Instagram, a tried and true method of developing brand advocates is rewarding customers who share photos of your products! House of Flynn rewards customers who share on Instagram with both points and exposure on their website! Encouraging this type of user-generated content both increases your brand exposure and presents an excellent opportunity to capitalize on your customers’ social networks, expanding your brand community!
5. Rewards Programs
Rewards programs are an amazing way of interacting with your customers online because they allow you to build emotional connections with customers on the basis of reciprocal relationships. When a customer is rewarded for an action, they feel obliged to reciprocate that generosity with their loyalty. This means that interactions with customers aren’t limited to one purchase — instead, more customers see the value in continuing to interact with your business and stay engaged over a longer period of time!
How to use rewards in interactions
Rewards programs are most effective when combined with other methods of interaction. By rewarding actions like sharing on social media, reviewing products, referring friends, and even celebrating birthdays, you create more opportunities for customers to positively interact with your brand and motivate them to stay engaged.
Esther does an incredible job of integrating rewards into all of their interactions. For everything from Instagram follows to referring a friend, customers are rewarded for engaging in valuable interactions with their brand. These rewards allow them to show their appreciation for their customers, and build emotional connections that keep them loyal to their brand.
6. Customer Reviews
Customer reviews are where your shoppers are most honest about your brand and your products, and as a result it’s an excellent area for you to get to know your customers better. By interacting with their feedback, you’re able to iterate and improve your business so that every customer interaction going forward is a 5 star experience.
It’s important to pay attention to both the positive and negative reviews your receive, because both types offer valuable insights into how your business is currently addressing customer needs. With positive reviews, you should look for areas where you exceeded customer expectations and determine how you can replicate those efforts for customers going forward. With negative feedback, your main focus should be identifying why the negative experience happened, and then determining how you can spin the negative interaction into a positive one.
How to use customer reviews to improve interactions
In order to benefit from customer feedback, you first need to convince customers to leave their opinions. An effective way of driving more reviews from your customers is by incentivizing the process with rewards. Whether its offering a free item or rewarding them with points, these initiatives will increase your feedback and, as a result, help improve your interactions with customers in the future.
A company that’s great at seeking out feedback on their products is Mpix. By rewarding customers with 500 points ($5) for every review they write, they’ve made it rewarding for customers to interact with the brand and give their feedback. By incentivizing the action, you make it clear to your customers that you care about and value their opinion. It’s no wonder that Mpix boasts of over 40,000 5 star customer reviews!
7. On-Site Chat
For businesses who want to provide immediate support for their customers, on-site chat is one of the fastest growing and best methods of customer interactions. On-site chat allows you to address customer questions and concerns in real time, saving sales and preventing issues in the process.
By interacting with a person rather than being sent to an FAQ section, you also humanize your brand and build an emotional connection with your customer. In customer interactions, these emotional relationships are what make all the difference. A favourite quote of mine summarizes this well:
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”
- Maya Angelou
Months from now, when a customer is deciding whether they want to purchase from your brand again, they won’t necessarily remember the details of their transaction. However, they will remember a customer service rep that helped them quickly and showed kindness to them, leaving them feeling like they mattered to your brand.
How to use on-site chat to improve your interactions
Use on site chat as a visible presence for your support team. By offering real time chat, you’re able to transform your business from a transactionally based decision to an emotional experience. Using on-site chat allows you to address questions in a highly customized and personable way, that leaves more customers satisfied with their brand experience.
I might be biased, but I think we at Smile do an awesome job with this! We put our relationship with customers first, and focus on building an emotional and personable experience. Our on-site chat allows us to quickly answer questions, and make sure that merchants are seeing success with their rewards program. In a fast paced digital world, sometime a conversation is the best way to interact with customers and make them feel valued.