Online Relationships: Not Just for Dating Sites

Written By Claiborne Linvill on March 16th, 2016

We’ve all heard the term “online relationship,” but have you ever really thought about what it means? Can you truly have a relationship that is entirely in text or shared photos, without the personal interaction? Can you learn enough about a person through an online profile to develop real feelings (positive or negative)? Many of us will say yes, we can develop real relationships online—but it requires some digging.

Turns out, those same traits you try to discern about people and relationships personally also apply to how we relate to companies online. Yes, we develop “online relationships” with organizations—and if you’re a business owner, that means your website needs to woo, impress and maintain relationships with potential and current clients.

This begs the question, does your website showcase how your company acts in real-life relationships? In other words, is the way you treat your customers IRL reflected on your website? Because no matter how well your sales team treats clients face-to-face, if your website doesn’t treat them as well, they’ll walk.

Here are some tips to help your website promote the same type of relationships that your company strives for:

  1. Walk the walk. Hold your website to the same standards as your team. For example, if you promote your company as “responsive,” then make sure your website is responsive too. Reply to any inquiries, emails or contact forms within 24 hours. Send updates on support items regularly. Fix problems quickly. In other words, match online the same type of service you’d give a customer over the phone or in person. This directive would also imply to companies who value being “friendly,” “approachable,” or “experts.” Ensure your website—using text, calls-to-action and imagery—matches those same standards. 
  2. Show your softer side. Does your sales team pride itself on personalized customer service? Do you exchange Christmas cards with clients, take them out to meals, and maybe even know the names of their kids? If your company values personal relationships, then show this on your website too. Post photos of staff—in bios, yes, but also interacting with each other at work or play. On social media feeds, post photos of community and staff events, tagging the people in the photos. Using personal photos shows that your company values people and relationships.
  3. Keep the customer in mind. No relationship starts off well if one person is confused about what to do or how to move forward. Keep your website easy to navigate for all types of audiences. Make clear buttons or menu items that users can access with one click to get the information they need. Take the time to set up an easily navigable website and your clients will immediately feel comfortable and in control—a great basis for any relationship. In the current digital age, sometimes an online relationship is the only one we have—with people or organizations. It’s vital that companies ensure their websites promote the type of relationships that their sales teams and employees strive to do in person.

Not sure if your website is promoting your organization well? Take a trip through our helpful infographic. Then feel free to contact A-LINE at any time to start discussing how we can help align your site with your organization’s goals for customer interaction.

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