The irony of this blog is not lost on me. The fact that you’re reading this online is perfect!

Most people wake up in the morning and look at their phones; they check emails, watch videos, read news, and respond to texts. We get nearly all of our information from some source of online media, through our desktops, laptops, tablets, tv’s, or phones. It’s the ability to get most things instantaneously through some technological venue that makes us expect businesses to provide us with information the same way. I want to touch on the 5 reasons that consumers and other businesses expect online options when dealing with your company, and how not having those options could negatively affect your growth.

1. High Level Information – About Me’s, Backgrounds, and Bio’s

The first thing I do when I see a logo I’m not familiar with or learn of a company I’ve never heard of, is hop online (likely on my phone, it’s often the most accessible) and Google the company. I want to know who they are, where they are from, and how they got there! There is nothing more irritating than a company not having a website or, at the very least, a social media profile of sorts. To be completely honest – if you don’t even have your address and phone number pop up on Google, then I’m not going to do business with you.  It’s the most elementary part of a business nowadays. Life is about branding, both personally and professionally and a website/social media presence is the single simplest way to do that.

2. Specific Details – Products & Services

Do you ever get a phone book delivered to your doorstep or one of those giant catalogues for a business supply store – how irritating is that? First off, there is no ‘ctrl+f’ in a paper catalogue – so now you have to sit there, comb through the table of contents, hope you’ve found the right page, and then find your item on said page. Second, talk about waste! With the weather changing so drastically due to global warming, people are paying closer attention to their carbon footprint and the amount of waste they produce. Third, in following with point 1, when I find a new company, I want to be able to Google them and find their products and/or services. I even want to be able to order those products and services from your site – delivery is a booming business, and so is the concept of wanting to buy it NOW.

3. Order Data – Shipping Date, Quantities

If you compiled data surrounding how much time your employees do what we will call ‘general customer service’, you’d likely be baffled. Questions as simple as “when is my order shipping?” or “how many of Item ABC are you shipping to me?” take up your employee’s valuable time. Time that could be better spent enhancing relationships with clients or increasing sales opportunities. Either way, this is simple information that can easily be provided through an online platform that would allow your clients to log in and see up to date information. This would save you, your employee’s, and your business valuable time; while at the same time saving your client the headache of needing to call and try to get through to the right person to get the correct information.

4. Feedback – Follow up, Reviews, Customer service

This could be debated by some. There are certainly strong arguments surrounding the need for an actual human to follow up with customers, provide customer service, and even solicit reviews from their customers. But, in a world where we don’t always have time between the 9am – 5pm work days to give our response, we sometimes attract more honest and thought-out reviews when we solicit them online. Online could mean email, survey, drop-box or anything really that removes the person to person contact required to get the information that’s needed. This is also key for star ratings and reviews when it comes to your business on the web.

5. Returns – Service, Returns, and Exchanges

Let’s face it, customers who are in need of returning their product, or exchanging it, are generally not happy campers. There is always a distaste when the product is not up to your satisfaction. The same could be said for broken items, items out of warranty, or items past return date; thus, requiring a service call. This has always been a painful process for most companies, and a high level of customer service during these times is what differentiates a customer from its competitor. Why not remove the anger, the frustration, and resentment altogether? By implementing a quick-and-painless live chat or online form to submit for any of the above, you’re removing the human contact that often causes the riff between the customer and your company. This can help boost customer service scores, while keeping the customer happy and saving your employees valued time and headaches.

These five reasons that your customers expect online options are really just the tip of the iceberg. We want information quickly and become impatient when that can’t happen. Instinctually, we differentiate our favourite companies from the rest based on speed, quality, and service. All three of these things can be achieve using online options that do not replace, but really enhance the level of service you can provide for your customers; ultimately boosting your business and your reputation. So, spend a little extra on your online presence and options and show your customers that you are up-to-date and technologically advanced.

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