In the digital age, customer service is often online as well as in-person and over the phone. Online companies, like quick dropshipping businesses, may exclusively resort to virtual interaction. Without the ability to read one another’s facial expressions, you and your clients or customers might find yourselves miscommunicating. How does online etiquette translate into virtual spaces? How can you get everyone on the same page so that you can offer the best customer service possible? Talking to people over the internet or email is convenient, but here are a few tips for interacting with people when you are only using text.
This note should be obvious, but you have to be more conscious about it when you are speaking to someone without your voices. People tend to interpret text more negatively than words spoken aloud, so what might sound friendly in your head may come across as negative to your reader. Be sure to use positive language and utilize punctuation accordingly.
Depending on the situation, it may be appropriate to use more than words. When you send a message to a customer, such as replying to a comment on Facebook, consider adding an emoji or a gif. Not only does doing so make you seem friendlier, images are sometimes capable of expressing thoughts and emotions in ways words cannot (and they help you avoid redundancy, especially when you are replying to numerous people at a time).
Many rules of speaking aloud apply to a text conversation. You know how sometimes elderly folks email or message you on Facebook and TYPE IN ALL CAPS? Do not do that with your customers. They will either interpret it as yelling, see you as incompetent, or have difficulty reading your message.
Put yourself in a stranger’s shoes: if you were to approach someone for information, how would you like to receive it? Do you have a sense of humor that someone else may not understand immediately? Keep in mind that there are generational differences, too. Older folks might use an ellipsis where younger people opt for a dash to break up their sentences.
Don’t keep them waiting
Do your best to respond to people as quickly as possible. If someone messages you on social media, reply even more promptly than you would an email or phone call (due to the nature of social media, customers might be online and waiting for you, or their message might be so short that getting back to them the next day feels awkward).
If you have to do a little research, say so. This is one of the benefits of virtual customer service. If you were on the phone with someone, you would have to put them on hold for an unknown amount of time while you look up the answer to their question. Interacting with them online, however, affords you more opportunity to use the internet or ask someone else. Just be sure you say, “Give me a moment to find the solution for you!” or risk making customers think they are not worthy of your attention.
Following up with customers lets them know that even after your conversation has ended, you are still thinking about them. Send them follow-up questions, comments, or thank-you notes inquiring about how the solution worked out or if they have any feedback to share. Online communication helps you reach people speedily while allowing them to respond to you in their own time.
Don’t do it yourself
The best customer service usually comes from another person, but if customers have quick questions that you answer repeatedly, consider integrating a chatbot into your website. Chat boxes are excellent platforms for people to get a hold of you, but chatbots are simple artificial intelligence applications that can provide pre-programmed responses. Having one can save you time, and customers unexcited about speaking with a person do not have to.
Make sure everyone has a voice
Encourage participation when it comes to clients or B2B customers. Business meetings often occur in person or via web chat platforms like Skype, but when it comes to email or social media discussions, sometimes people are left out of the loop. While it’s challenging to talk over someone with digital communication, make sure that every relevant person is receiving messages and has a chance to say what they need to.
Online customer service may have different traditions than vocal, but you can reach more people than ever before without spreading yourself too thin. How do you engage with clients or customers when speaking to them online?