No, I’m not talking about emoticons! Though emoticons like the smiley face can be useful to show your emotions when texting with friends, they don’t usually belong in a professional environment. In Chris Young’s blog post “5 Ways Online Stores Have Raised Our In-Store Expectations” he brings up a great point, “It’s hard to project a smile over the phone, and even harder via LiveChat. But I’ve ‘seen’ it, so I know it can be done.” So the question arises: How do you show your smile online?
Start off with a friendly greeting. If someone came into your office or store you wouldn’t start the conversation with a sales pitch or immediately jump to talking business, would you? Chances are you would greet them with a friendly, “Hello, how are you today?” You can do the same thing when you’re sending an email. Start the conversation by asking how they are doing, or how their weekend was. Show them that you care.
Focus on the customer. As you’re writing, think about what the customer wants. If you’re focused on yourself or your product, it may come across as self-centered. Avoid phrases that sound negative such as “We would have to…” Instead try a positive phrase like “We would be happy to…”
Always remember to say “Thank you.” Thank customers for their purchase. In emails, thank recipients for taking the time to read and reply. Being gracious goes a long way.
Re-read your words from a different perspective. Pretend you’re the person on the other end and re-read what you wrote. Does it sound friendly and helpful? If not you may need to take the time to re-word. Read it again, but this time pretend you’re in a bad mood. Is there any chance it could sound sarcastic or condescending? Make sure you’re saying what you meant to say, and that it doesn’t have a chance of coming off the wrong way.
Listen to the customer. A common trend in bad customer service is not reading and listening thoroughly. A customer asks for help and in response they get a canned message that answers one or two of their questions, but not everything that was asked. It’s obvious that the email wasn’t fully read and now the customer is stuck in a position of either asking again, or giving up on the company. Taking the time to show that you fully read the message and want to help makes the customer feel like they matter to you.
Every online interaction is going to be different, but you can start by taking these steps to ensure your smile gets across in everything you do. If you have any tips or tricks you use to convey your smile on the web, please leave them in the comments! We’d love to hear what you have to say.