Face to Face in a Virtual World: Greening Up Even Traditional Customer Service Experience

Online MeetingDo you want to reduce your business’s carbon footprint and increase customer interaction and satisfaction at the same time? Go virtual.

You know that an active online presence is important to the survival of your business. So is providing excellent customer service. For some reason, many business owners seem to think that these two things are mutually exclusive. The truth is that providing a nurturing environment for your customers can happen just as well virtually as it can in a face to face environment.

For instance, before too long the technology will be in place for people to even do their banking virtually—and not just the buying and selling of things online but actual communication with bankers. Some banks are already using technologies like Skype to connect customers to personal banking experts within the company that can help with loans and other personal banking matters.

This is largely because the banks are trying to maintain a personal relationship with their customers, something that is harder to do with neighborhood branches becoming fewer and farther between. It also allows them to do business outside of the traditional 8-5 personal banking hours.

Being able to provide face to face interaction with your customers—even when your entire environment is virtual (one of the greenest ways to run a business, FYI) is one of the best ways to increase customer interaction. After all, companies cannot subsist on social media alone.

In order for this to be effective, though, you do have to build up a stronger online presence. You need more than just a great website if you want people to feel comfortable reaching out to you in a virtual environment. If you don’t already have social media profiles set up, now is the time to start working on that.

People aren’t yet in the habit of seeking out virtual interaction beyond looking for a “live chat” button on a homepage. If you want people to know you offer these sorts of services, you also have to start spreading the word about your increased virtual brand and presence.

It might even be helpful to hire a company to help you. This way you’ll get expert help while remaining free to learn about and explore the different types of technology that are available for helping your company increase its virtuality. You can also install plugins like the the Brand.com reviews widget so that web searchers will see immediately how highly rated your virtual offerings are.

A good example to follow is that of Hewlett Packard. In addition to increasing their Facebook fan base by more than 180% they doubled their social networking referrals. Their biggest boon, however, was their online “Expert Day” chat events. These were days during which customers could talk directly to the HP team members who designed the products about which customers were asking questions. One of the reasons that these days were so successful is that the questions didn’t have to be limited to currently warrantied products. Customers could ask even about older products!

Going virtual (or opening up additional virtually based lines of communication) isn’t just a great way to “green up” your business (though research shows that virtual offices do reduce a company’s carbon footprint). They are a fantastic way of giving your customers the “traditional” support they need in the technological environment that makes them comfortable.