Not too long ago, businesses held an annual customer conference, wherein they’d gather feedback about their products. However, the event proved insufficient in forging a stronger connection between companies and customers. It didn’t allow for better engagement. As a result, businesses kept providing products and services that didn’t truly satisfy their customers.
Thankfully, businesses don’t have to put up with such events anymore. They can engage with their customers anytime now, with the internet accessible from their fingertips.
Social media allows businesses to gather feedback without spending a dime. All they need to do is post any content, and the comments section will be filled in no time. Some customers even post complaints in the comments, and staff from the business would respond, making the exchange open for the public to see.
While no business wants to receive complaints out in the open, it also opens up an opportunity to showcase customer service. This allows the complaining party to feel respected and the rest of the customers to feel valued because their feedback is addressed immediately. On the other hand, businesses can form a stronger connection with their audience because quick responses paint them as more approachable figures.
In turn, businesses get to provide quality products and services because they hear feedback even without asking for them directly. But social media isn’t the only tool they use.
Ways the Internet Connects Businesses and Customers
Connections forged on the internet are heavily emphasized today because of the pandemic. Indeed, without the internet, remote working would’ve been possible. Virtual parties, conferences, and meetings couldn’t be done.
Businesses benefited from cloud services, which maintained high productivity. It allowed them to be resilient to the crisis and provide comfort to their customers who felt anxious about the sudden shift in the world.
Through social media, businesses reach out to their customers to make them feel less alone. They focused less on selling products and more on engaging in creating a semblance of normalcy. In turn, they reaped marketing benefits, such as getting higher sales. That’s because customers who feel connected to a business are more inclined to support them.
Businesses also formed collaborations with influencers, whom the public looks up to during tough times. Influencers used sponsored content to show how they relate to their followers. They also spoke about mental health, recommending products that aid in self-care and relaxation.
Before the pandemic, the internet divided people because clashing interests, socioeconomic classes, and beliefs created gaps between users. But now, people are uniting again, even if not all of them are on the same boat during the pandemic. Businesses showed them that they’re all facing challenges regardless and that helpful products and services are available to comfort them and satisfy their needs.
Building Online Communities
Businesses create online communities in two ways: through shared social communities or owned or branded online communities.
Shared social communities are also called free online communities. Examples are Facebook, LinkedIn, and Quora. Businesses can create groups or pages on those sites for free, then gain followers through carefully targeted content. Most groups or pages are public, but private ones can be made, too. Private communities are helpful for businesses looking for a more closed community, such as one that involves stakeholders.
The most significant advantage of shared social communities is, of course, the cost. All businesses have to pay for are content boosts. However, the policies of free platforms are subject to change at any time. It can take down online communities without prior notice simply because the rules have changed.
Businesses won’t face that risk when they use a branded online community. Since businesses pay for it, they can own it. They’d integrate it on their website, then gather members through a paid—or sometimes free—membership program. Paying members can be eligible to special promos and discounts, such as early access to sales, for example. Non-paying members, on the other hand, can get perks by accumulating a certain number of points, for instance.
Both free and owned online communities can help gather feedback. The reviews section on a business’s website can show parts where a product or service has fallen short. The marketing team can take note of that feedback and use that data as they improve their offers.
With the internet, businesses can create better products, and customers will feel empowered. They’d know that the business has taken their reviews seriously and took the effort to change what needed changing. Therefore, even if the internet is sometimes scary, it proved indispensable for businesses and customers. Without it, businesses will always be a faceless entity that only takes money and never gives.