The internet has exponentially increased the ways to interact with customers compared with the “old days” of telephone and snail-mail. Often the trouble these days is not finding the quickest way to respond to customer (or lead) inquiries, but the best way to do it. If they tweet you a question, should you send them a private message in response? Would they find that way to be more personal—or should you publically tweet back your response?

It may surprise you, but customers much prefer public responses. According to Maritz Research’s 2012 poll, “85 percent of consumers are very happy when businesses respond to their public comments in online forums and social media venues,” with younger respondents having even higher positive reactions. The following graph from their report demonstrates the power of public responses:

So how can businesses like yours take advantage of this information?

  • Move Beyond an Outbound-Only Marketing Focus – Too many businesses focus only on outbound marketing at the expense of paying attention to incoming questions. When’s the last time you checked your blog, forum, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Pinterest pages and inboxes? Make sure you are getting automatic emails when you get any communication so you can reply quickly.
  • Listen and Respond Respectfully – According to the Maritz report, “Online public methods of feedback offer up a new layer of complexity as responses are able to be viewed by the Internet audience at large – as is the lack of response.”
  • Be Careful Public responses must be worded carefully so you don’t have a public relations problem. Just think of the latest news item that reported on a Facebook company page feud with customers that began with an “innocent” response from the company—you don’t want to go down that path.

Engagement is a vital marketing objective—what better way to engage your customers than to respond to them and invite other customers to join the conversation? To read the Maritz poll press release with summary information, click here (PDF). 

For more helpful marketing tips and information on effective marketing strategies for your business, go to www.lookingglassmarketing.com or visit the Marketing Know-How blog.