Be honest with me now: Do people see you as approachable and easy to talk to?
As you considered that question, I bet some of you started to think about friends or family members who fit that description; somehow they just make talking to them easy. These are the people you go to when you need to discuss your aspirations, your problems, or just want to enjoy a pleasant afternoon or evening.
People can also have these kinds of feelings about businesses and you want to create an atmosphere and relationships that make your business approachable and easy to talk to.
You might think that simply making it technically easy to reach your business will accomplish this, but that’s not the case. In fact, that can almost serve an opposite goal. Let me explain.
Go beyond ‘help lines’
If you don’t proactively hold “conversations” with your customers and prospects, you can’t set a good tone for your communication. If your customers only use your communication channels to deal with their problems, then they will associate communicating with you with negative thoughts.
While you certainly should do a great job handling your customers’ problems and make your communication as easy, efficient, and pleasant as possible, you want most of the communication between your business and your customers to be edifying and enjoyable.
I think most of us went to high schools where there was a vice principal in charge of discipline. You didn’t want to talk to the discipline vice principal because you knew it was never good. Don’t let your communication channels turn into the vice principal in charge of discipline.
It’s easy to do this with your social media. While social media can be a wonderful channel for customer service, don’t let it devolve into a “complaint box.” Condition your customers to view your communication channels as positive attributes of your business. Use them to share useful information on a regular basis.
Further, this doesn’t start and stop with your social media. If your business handles larger clients, be sure that your reps engage with these clients on the phone or through other touch points. And in this case, there’s another benefit. You don’t want clients to only hear from reps when they’re trying to sell something. That will eventually cause communication to break down.
Imagine the benefits you would experience if your clients all viewed their sales reps as that approachable individual I mentioned at the top – the person they go to when they want to discuss their aspirations or problems. That would put your business in a powerful position.
Lastly, being approachable is something everyone on your team needs to work at. It’s very important in local businesses and it’s often the reason a business will become a “landmark” in a community and be successful over several generations.
Finally, no matter how focused you are on helping your customers when they get in a jam, don’t let that dedication distract you from doing a stellar job communicating with them when they aren’t dealing with problems.