Success of ecommerce lies on great customer experiences. Leading companies are known for their effective customer service strategies which is a key factor in the success of ecommerce. The customer is the most important aspect of every customer-centered organization whether it is a small business or an enterprise. When customers have positive experiences they are more likely to become loyal, repeat business, spread word around, give recommendations and refer more customers to your business. Customer service therefore, has a great impact on how customers view your products and services and plays a major role in conversion rates.
The following are 6 pointers that you should implement.
Make Life Easier for Customers
This is where so many businesses go wrong. Instead of making life easier for their customers they make it harder. Check what leading retailers are doing and emulate them. You may have to do a lot more work if you are a small business especially since today, online shopping has become complex due to the array of products/services you have to choose from, price comparisons and the onset of mobile commerce, but it is possible. Make it easy for customers to view your products/services and categories, let them checkout and make payments without requiring a lot of effort on their part. Make it easy for them to reach support, return products and to contact you when need arises.
Have Effective Dialogue with Customers
Business is all about meeting customers' needs and wants. When you plan to sell products and services, conduct market research and find out what your targeted audience needs and wants. Once you start the business, strive to find out what your customers want to buy and you can only do this by interacting with them through call centers, emails, blogs and social media networks like Facebook, Twitter etc. Facebook has widened its search within the community of friends who can use the Graph Search.
Make sure you do the following:
- Provide details about your company in the About Us web page
- Give contacts that will make customers be able to get in touch with you
- Reply to emails with your name, answers to queries and a thank you
- Provide space where your customers can leave feedback and act on what they are communicating about you and to you, whether it is positive or negative
- Conduct customer surveys and act on the data provided, add features required, solve ordering hurdles and obstacles, offer payment methods that your customers prefer i.e. PayPal, offer similar shipping service like Amazon Prime etc.
Make Return Policies User-friendly
Forget the stringent return policies which require customers to prove they bought from the company and have to prove this by providing a receipt. Effective customer relationship management CRM system, provide you with customer history and helps you understand your customers' buying habits and patterns. If you know they bought the products from you, make it easy for them to return the products without hassles. Offer similar/alternative products, discounts or refund but make the experience pleasant for the customer. What you should concentrate on is why they returned the products and what can be varied to retain the customers. Ask for their feedback and send a "Thank You" notes to make them feel valued.
Simplify Free Shipping
Free shipping is one factor that customers consider when making product comparisons. If you offer free shipping make it easy for customers to access it. Some retailers make you search for online coupon codes in order to claim free shipping which is not necessary. You should have free shipping tallied automatically by the shopping cart before payment is processed at checkout. You can customize this on the app you are using or pay for a hosted shopping cart that has this functionality.
Honor All Your Warranties
There is no need of providing warranties that you know you will not honor. When customers claim a warranty they expect it to be honored otherwise making them go through inspections in order to buy time so the warranty can expire, does not have a place in today's competitive world. Instead of losing the customer, it is better to make that small loss and gain from that customer in the long-term. Retaining an existing customer is less expensive than getting a new customer.
An asset earns you money. A liability drains money from you. There are people who treat their customers like a liability citing the customer service department as an expense. The customers you have are your most valuable asset that earns money for you, so you want to invest in them since you do not want to lose them. Without them, things would be quite different so you want to retain them as much as possible. Investing in a customer service department is vital for ecommerce success.
Company values should be in line with customer values so you are able to meet their needs and wants as per their expectations. You should create a long-term relationship with your customers and make life easier for them so they can have a pleasant experience which they will remember. This will make them want to do business with you over and over again and the repeat business brings profits to you as they become loyal customers making it a win-win scenario.
Although most marketers work on strategies that will help them gain new customers, retaining the existing customers is much easier and even less costly. To achieve strong and positive customer experience involves having a look at current business processes and making changes. The importance of customer retention, repeat business and great customer service culture cannot be over-emphasized.