Customer Interaction through your Website

“For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate”. – Margaret Heffernan

Despite the fast moving world and the upgraded technology creating possibilities of minimizing human intervention in a number of realms, for businesses to run smoothly they must interact adequately with their customers. The most apparent and obvious way for businesses to “communicate” with their customers is their website. The way people relate to the web and the sites therein has changed radically, moving from being simply ‘places’ visited by people looking for information about the company and its products, to customers and other people feeling the need to be able to contribute and add content. Companies that have recognised this need have made sure that it is possible for customer interaction through their website. Even customers who may not have any particular skills in this realm are able to interact with company via their amply interactive websites.

Everyone knows that the first place customers ‘go to’ for information regarding a company is their website. The website is the starting point for companies to get noticed by the millions of internet users and therefore companies are now paying more attention to designing attractive and engaging websites through the prudent use of graphics and text. The added feature of enabling customer interaction through their website garners more support and gets more ‘visitors’. This is the direct result of the changing expectations of customers and others, wanting to have a say on what goes and stays on these websites and what more they would like to see. It is observed that the websites most popular on the internet are the ones that allow customer interaction and these are the websites that people stay on longer and also come back to again and again. When companies allow customer interaction through their website, customers are more willing to contribute content and provide invaluable feedback. This allows customers to feel more in control and be happier knowing that they have an active role to play in the company they are associated with or would like to be associated with. It’s all about giving the customers and site visitors what they want and expect even though their reasons for visiting your site may vary.

Customer interaction through your website means giving them a plethora of effective and consequential options, starting with being able to navigate effortlessly through the website. The harsh reality is that unless companies keep innovating and providing features that are interesting and captivating, the number of visitors to their website will fall. To increase customer interaction through your website give them a reason to return to it and stay on it. From the website pages that a customer visits, it is possible to know what they are looking for, whether they find the information therein useful, do they use the opinion box or overlook it each time, do they post comments that indicate that they are satisfied with the site and can they identify with it. Your website must have features that promote interaction and in a way that the ‘target’ audience would be pleased with. For example- a site for young / new moms must have sections that allow them to learn from other new moms, get advice from older moms and receive expert guidance on issues related to their health and the well-being of their new born. Being able to receive such information, ask for pictures, post pictures and share their own experiences, will ensure that such a website would become a favourite. The best part of interactive websites is that whatever a customer or other visitor finds useful, interesting and worth sharing, can be forwarded to others. This increases the visibility and reach of the website and the company it belongs to. Such an effective yet free of charge way to get promotion and publicity!

Companies use different kinds of features to encourage customer interaction through their website. Most common are blogs, online chats, discussion forums and links that connect the customer to the company’s social media sites. Blogs are written either by the company or through a hired blogger on topics that would related and relevant to the company and its customers. They are always displayed in date-wise sequence for easier accessibility and would also have comments of those who read them. Online chats with the company’s experts allow customers and visitors to receive on the spot answers with regard to the offerings of the company and also related topics and well-answered queries leads customers to return to the website and also divert more ‘traffic’ to it. The fact is that in whatever manner the customers and visitors to a site can interact, it leaves them feeling involved and interested in the particular website.

Customer interaction through your website first ignites a spark, a soft murmur about your company. This murmur gets louder with time becoming a full-fledged conversation that has positive influencing potential. As the ‘news’ of your website spreads through word-of-mouth, the popular search engines too start picking it and begin to display it each time a visitor is searching for the same or even similar offerings. Putting together a meaningful, exciting and informative website is the best way to influence customer interaction through your website for longer periods of time and repeatedly. It is human tendency to ‘brag’ about anything they consider outstanding – customers love telling their associates and friends about the great new ‘place’ on the internet they ‘discovered’. Is your website creating this buzz?

The other important thing to remember if you want to increase customer interaction through your website is that customers are not accessing the internet only through their laptops or computer systems. It is the day and age of information ‘on the go’ and customers access sites through hand held electronic devices and smart mobile phones as well. However they access your website, the result must be the same – seamless experience, easy navigation and an outstanding user-friendly experience. The features of interactivity should be available and easy to use even on these smart devices. Companies must ensure that their websites are constantly updated, fresh and exciting content added and the information therein is useful and effective for their target customer base and larger audience. Beat the desire to put in things just to make the website look good but really have no purpose or would not be used by the visitors.

Before creating or changing your website to improve customer interaction through your website, make sure that you ask and answer a few questions to make it amply clear what you expect your website to do. The main aim and purpose of a website is to let customers and others know about what your company does, its products, customer base and customer service. Online stores also use their website to market and sell their products to a wide consumer base. Most companies that sell through their websites also provide their audience with free mobile applications that can be easily downloaded and used to access their websites from hand held smart devices, making it even more convenient for visitors to become customers and existing customers to make repeated purchases.
It is crucial for companies to remember that cumbersome, slow and hard to navigate websites are often ‘abandoned’ midway of transactions by the ‘short on time’ customers. Cluttered graphics, overly ‘talkative’ sites and arduous payment procedures are some of the main reasons that customers begin ignoring certain sites. The key to increasing customer interaction through your website is to keep it simple, interesting, informative and extremely easy to use. One click functions, work better than customers being forced to wait for more than a few seconds or repeatedly click to enter a particular page on your website.

Customers are evolving and to suit that, applications, trends and even the internet is changing. Set down guidelines for your company’s website based on your target audience to create highly interactive websites that customers and visitors will love to ‘stick’ with.

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