If you are serious about running a business nowadays going digital is not an option. Finding a business that considers itself serious without a digital footprint is questionable. A digital footprint business is now as good as a symbol of authenticity. Most importantly, having an online presence is now core to generating leads. Your business must have a functional website; with add-ons like online shopping features. That website must be seamlessly connected to active social media accounts. Having an online presence comes with an important caveat, though. You will need to engage with wide-ranging customers actively. That is why we must have a discussion regarding tips for responding to customers online.

Do Not Avail Contact Details If You Never Respond

I never understand how a business provides contact details that do not seem to work. These are details such as email addresses, phone numbers, etc. You find that a business can provide them on their website and their social media. Then you use those contact details and realize they do not work. At times you might notice that your messages will not be responded to. It becomes apparent that the contact details are just a formality.

Many businesses are guilty of this habit. It is pointless to avail contact details and never respond. If you provide contact details, ensure they work, and you actively respond. Did you know that when someone attempts to contact your business, they are a lead? Imagine you turn off and lose a lead simply because your contact details are just for show. It does not have to be that way.

Have A Ready And Comprehensive Pricelist

In previous articles, we have explored the unprofessional habit of not including prices. Many businesses leave out price details in their social media posts. You can even find a string of comments under a post asking about the price. Even stranger, all those comments might be ignored. You get to wonder what the rationale behind doing that is. In principle, any social media post on selling something must include prices. Then another issue that some businesses may overlook has a comprehensive pricelist.

Sure enough, you might be including prices on your posts. How about when someone asks for a comprehensive price list of all that you have? It seems obvious, but interestingly, many businesses do not prepare such a list. You must have that comprehensive pricelist ready and handy at all times. You can prepare it as a message or as an e-flier. That way if anyone asks for it, as often happens, you will be ready to deliver. Not having that can cause you to lose prospects.

Respect People’s Time

We live in a fast-paced world, and most want things done quickly. When someone asks about your business online, they expect quick answers. You need to respond as soon as possible – be it a comment or a direct message. You must not forget that business competition is intense online. If you do not respond quickly, a prospect can explore other options. For as long as it is within your operating hours, endeavour to respond almost instantly.

It is even wise to have someone or some people dedicated to responding to messages and comments. That will distinguish you as a business that respects people’s time. Even when conversing with customers online, be swift. It could be that they need an update or are waiting for a delivery. Let any engagement be characterised by a clear indication that you respect a customer’s time.

Be Respectful And Honest

There is a temptation to forget that it is online, but you are dealing with actual human beings. As a business, you must never lose sight of people’s emotions. You need to be respectful when you talk to them online. Even when difficult or unreasonable, find a way to remain respectful. You might, at times, have to be firm or candid.

Regardless, that can all be done with respect. Some customers will inevitably seek to get on your nerves. Do not play into their traps of provoking you to be disrespectful. People will crucify you for the business if you are disrespectful, and it goes out. ‘The customer is always right’ adage will be used on you. Such dynamics can hurt your brand image, so always be respectful.

Then honesty so many businesses are not big on honesty. They will lie or exaggerate about delivery times or what products can or cannot do. They will lie about when something out of stock is coming. They might even lie about prices. No lie whatsoever is justified in business. Dealing with customers online makes lying much easier, but it is wrong.

Take Advantage Of Automated Messaging Tools

This depends on the online platform you will be using. The most universal is the use of chatbots. Chatbots create this framework where customers can get instant responses at any time. There is a Zimbabwean startup called Magetsi. It is a digital omnichannel platform that provides various payment services through the web, WhatsApp, Facebook, and other channels. Save their +263785832033 number and WhatsApp Hi. You will see the beauty of a chatbot in action.

Businesses need chatbots now like never before. Chatbots can fully address some customer needs. Bots can also be incorporated into websites. Another platform to take advantage of is WhatsApp Business. Messaging tools include Greeting Messages, Away Messages, and Quick Replies. These are examples of automated messaging tools that can streamline how you respond to customers online.

Make use of these 5 tips and distinguish your business online. The open secret is many businesses, especially in Zimbabwe, have shortcomings in responding to customers online. All you need to do is to do the right thing to stand out.