There used to be a time, in the land before Internet, when businesses were restricted in how they could communicate with customers. Customers had to actually walk, send a post, or even mount a horse and buggy to get the supplies and service they needed. This took hours, days, and in some cases months of waiting.
Then came along the telephone, and within seconds, customers were able to reach a business without physically being there.
Now, thanks to modern technology, customers can reach a business without the business physically being there.
The business can be completely digital, completely automated, and still be completely accessible to the customer. The Internet has given us the opportunity to improve the way customers and businesses communicate. That’s the good news about being alive in the 21st century.
The bad news is that most businesses are still communicating like it’s the 20th century.
They use the phone or even snail mail to communicate with their clients.
Even restricting your customer communication to email alone could be a bad idea, depending on your business. Some businesses may benefit more from a multi-pronged communication strategy, including email, live chat, and knowledge base.
Let’s discuss the different elements you can and should use on your site to improve how you communicate with your customers.
Use Intuitive Navigation on Your Website
Even if you have a business that exists offline, you still need a user-friendly website to serves as a one-stop-shop resource for your customers.
But it’s not enough to have a website that’s filled with valuable information if your customers don’t know how to access it.
This is why you need to optimize your website’s menu navigation. It should be organized, easy to find, and intuitive to use. Let’s break that down:
Your menu bar should have a logic to it that mirrors how a customer would look for a topic on your site.
Easy to find
I’m a big fan of a top bar menu. All of these “now you see me, now you don’t, catch me if you can, I’m the gingerbread man” type of navigation bars give me a headache. And they’ll give your customers a headache, too. Don’t make them hunt to find your menu bar— keep it simple and easy to reach.
Intuitive to use
Your menu bar should include a spot for search. Don’t force your customer to search for the search bar.
Also, implement a smart search process. There’s nothing worse than searching on a website to find “no results found” especially when you know the topic exists. Don’t let this happen to your customers.
Your search process should also include autocomplete suggestions to aid customers who aren’t sure what they’re looking for exactly.
Post Your Office Hours
Posting your office hours does a lot of wonderful things for customer communication.
It sets expectations. Your customers know when you’re available and when you’re not. This cuts down on confusion and frustration for your customers.
It restricts abuse. When you are clear about your open and close schedule, most customers will respect that and won’t try to reach you when you’re closed.
Offer an Instantly Browsable Knowledge Base
Have you considered adding a knowledge base on your website?
A knowledge base is an extension of your customer support. It houses the articles that help your customers use your product or service better.
Instead of fielding all of the questions and concerns that come from your customers, send them to a fully stocked knowledge base. This will empower your customers and free up your customer support from getting bogged down in same requests over and over again.
Here are a few of the best practices for a knowledge base:
Add images and video to your knowledge base. Some people understand information better visually.
Link to other articles within your knowledge base. Connect the dots for your customers so they don’t have to spend too long searching.
Add a link to your customer support desk. No matter how thorough, your knowledge base may not answer every question your customers have. So, don’t leave them frustrated— make sure to include a link to your customer support desk or email.
Don’t Forget About a FAQ page, Too
In addition to a knowledge base, you should have a prominently display frequently asked questions (FAQ) page. This page will answer common questions that your audience asks you over and over again.
A FAQ page differs from a knowledge base because it answers a wide assortment of questions that your audience has before making a purchase. It is not a how-to manual, like you’d find in a knowledge base. Instead, the FAQ often functions as a tool to eliminate concerns and encourage customers to make a purchase.
Your FAQ page should be easy to understand and well organized.
Here are a few of the best practices to follow when building a FAQ page:
Separate it by topics. Make it faster for your audience to find what they need.
Keep it short. It shouldn’t contain an overwhelming amount of information.
Make it searchable, just like your knowledge base.
Offer Live Chat
This is one communication tool you’re probably overlooking. A live chat allows your customers to reach you during the most crucial point of the sales experience. If they have a question, you don’t want to lose the momentum by making them wait for you to reply to their email. Even searching through an FAQ can be annoying.
Fortunately, a live chat can make your customer’s experience a lot easier. Customers feel more comfortable knowing that they can reach out to you at any moment during their browsing to get a pressing question answered.
A live chat is inexpensive to operate, and studies show that it can actually increase the amount of sales you make on your website.
Be Mobile Responsive
Your website definitely needs to be mobile responsive. Your customers are just as likely to search for you on their smartphones as they are on their desktop computers. Make sure that your website looks great no matter what viewing screen your customers use.
For more information of mobile responsive design, check out my post here: The importance of Mobile Responsive Design.
Highlight Customer Reviews
Sometimes your old customers can answer questions you’ve neglected to add to your FAQ. Customer testimonials can add an interesting perspective. Oftentimes, the story a customer tells in their testimonial can mirror the pain point your prospective customer is struggling with as well.
Don’t overlook this powerful opportunity to speak to new customers through testimonials.
Communicating with your customers is a lot easier than it was back in the day. But, don’t get stuck with yesterday’s mindset. Use these tools to create a better customer experience with your brand.
If you need an individual solution for your business, let’s talk.