Providing a friendly and comforting shopping atmosphere to your customers is key!
Let’s face it. The comfort of knowing you can be anywhere in your house (in a business suit, pajamas…or perhaps some avantgarde combination of the two) and shop online is almost too good. Keyword? Almost.
While this may be an efficient and streamlined experience, this could be a bit of a cold environment to many customers (depending on how warm their pajamas are, of course).
The lack of personal interaction in the world of online shopping can be dangerous to your business. Why? We’re social creatures. While we do enjoy the convenience of modern technology, we do still like the feeling of knowing that there is a human being somewhere in that digital ocean that can give us a helping hand if we need it.
Alas, your business might be amongst competitors who are only a click away, but you’ll stand out if you’re the one that does that little bit extra for the customer. The one that makes it a memorable and remarkable experience beyond the usual ‘find, click, and buy’ model. This is when the customer experience matters.
So how do you stand out with a great customer experience? I’d be happy to show you!
1 – Give your business a personal side
Remember how I said the internet can be a cold and lonely place? Don’t let your customers feel that even for a moment. Keep in mind that a brick and mortar store has the advantage of having staff that can address a customer’s needs in-person. Your online business should emulate this as best as possible.
-Provide any and all relevant contact information on the site and make it easy to find. This includes email addresses, phone/fax numbers, hours of operation, social networking integrations, and livechat features. Let the customer know that they are not alone in the investment of their time or money.
-Have an ‘About Us’ page that actually talks about you as an individual (and perhaps your team members) and provides a little bit of backstory as well. Let your customers know that the people behind the website exist beyond just being store owners and employees.
You may have a set of rules that you or your sales reps function on in terms of transaction leeway, but being flexible with these rules (think ‘yoga’ flexible, maybe not ‘contortionist’ flexible) will make your company’s service level shine while maintaining integrity.
Let’s say you have a customer who is perusing your site, finds a product that happens to be on sale, adds it to the cart, but doesn’t finish checking out. The sale then ends on the product shortly thereafter. Your shopping cart software notifies you that this customer has left this product in the cart, giving you the option of sending an email to them. What do you do? You send a personalized email with a coupon code that gives the sale price to that customer even past the expiration of the sale.
This gives them so much more than they were expecting and gives them a reason to come back to you for that same customer experience. That same level of attention.
Granted, this isn’t necessarily something you can always attend to. Luckily, there are more and more tools making this type of service level easier to achieve. Many of the top online shopping cart platforms offer ‘abandoned cart’ monitoring that allow you to reach out to that customer that might have slipped away.
“Loyal customers, they don’t just come back, they don’t simply recommend you, they insist that their friends do business with you.” ~ Chip Bell, Keynote Speaker and Customer Loyalty Consultant
3 – Be as friendly as possible
At the start of this list, I exclaimed that I’d be happy to help you. See how that essentially conveys a smile through words? Its the little things that count.
Enthusiasm during a phone call can also make a world of difference. Remember, your customer is calling you because they feel the need to convey something in a more personal way, so your tone and inflection are very important. The last thing they need to hear is a customer service representative who sounds like a disgruntled automated message.
That extra push for kindness could mean the difference between the customer purchasing from you and a competitor because they know that they would feel comfortable contacting you in case of any issues (or hopefully, for a glowing review!). Every little bit of effort towards the customer experience can only build and add to the confidence they have in you.
“Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them.” ~ Kevin Stirtz, Author of More Loyal Customers
So all-in-all, how do you know if any of this will actually help your business? Think of it this way. Imagine all of the points I just stated from your own customer’s perspective. Imagine how you would feel when the company you are shopping with exercised these ideas and put effort into caring about you as a customer. Any business can have an online presence, but its the level of personal involvement that differentiates each of them.
Take it from a well-known PC company…
“The customer experience is the next competitive battleground.” ~ Jerry Gregoire, Former Chief Information Officer, Dell Inc.
With an approach like this, your patrons will have a more friendly, reassuring, and warm customer experience no matter what kind of business pajamas they’re wearing.