According to Accenture, 75% of consumers are more likely to purchase from an organisation that knows their name and uses their purchase history to recommend other services or products. What’s more, the consulting company also believes that a third of the customers who ended their relationship with a brand last year, did so because the shopping experience wasn’t personalised enough.
Ensuring your website offers great customer service is a shifting goalpost. New technologies and changing customer behaviour will mean you need to stay on top of digital trends. There are, however, some basics that absolutely cannot be ignored. Here are six of them:
It’s important to have a comprehensive, easy-to-read Frequently Asked Questions page. FAQ pages will cut down the number of calls your customer support team will need to deal with. Giving your customer the ability to inform themselves ahead of deciding to use your services will also make them feel more secure. Should they still need assistance, make sure that your contact details can easily be found on the home page.
While there is something to be said for the warmth of a face-to-face engagement, more and more consumers are happy to deal with a machine if they know it will result in a simpler, faster resolution. According to Microsoft, 63% of Millennials start their customer service interactions online – that’s all your customers between the age of 23 and 38 years old. Installing instant chat on your website should be a consideration. Social media should also be a consideration and, if your target demographic prefers using Facebook or WhatsApp, there are South African solutions that can be implemented that will also unify all your communication channels on a central dashboard, making it easier to manage.
Every retail site must have a returns and refund policy that customers can familiarise themselves with. While customers are legally protected by the Consumer Protection Act and can seek recourse with the various ombuds, no-one wants to end up in lengthy (and costly) disputes. Ensure your returns policy is in line with the Consumer Protection Act and display it on your website as well as in purchase confirmation emails. Make sure you are transparent in how you deal with your customers, and they will feel confident enough to make the purchase.
Personalisation is one of the best ways to drive loyalty, satisfaction, and advocacy. By engaging with a customer in a way that acknowledges their uniqueness, you are creating a digital equivalent of the warm fuzzy feeling of a sales assistant who knows you by name and can help you find your next must-have experience or product. More importantly, collecting data on an individual user level allows you to upsell across channels. Turning a once-off customer into a loyal, repeat customer, who spreads the word of your business to their friends is the marketer’s dream. To achieve this, you should carefully consider what platform your website is built on and how it collects data. It is also worth speaking to a digital marketing specialist to help build a truly personalised customer journey for your users.
Building customer loyalty is an ongoing exercise. Just like your product offering has to change over time, so too do your customers’ expectations. Successful e-commerce sites not only welcome customer feedback but actively encourage it. Small discounts on future purchases is one way to encourage feedback. Social media allows your company to engage directly with your customer and is a wonderful way of spreading the love. However, business owners need to be in a position to deal with negative feedback as well as the positive. Respond to criticism openly and transparently. Offer an apology and a solution if there has been a problem. Many brands have turned criticism into an opportunity to win over a dissatisfied customer who will then praise the company’s efforts and the resolution to their complaint. Trust is built through communication, so keep those channels open.
Making sure you recognise loyalty depends on you knowing your customer. So much depends on personalisation and using data smartly. Rewarding repeat buyers will keep them coming back and, more importantly, will ensure that they tell their friends. Loyalty can also be rewarded through partner businesses, so explore your broader business ecosystem and consider partnering with similar, non-competing brands to reward your customers. This will expose you to a bigger network of new customers and boost your website users and revenue.
Running a successful e-commerce website takes time, patience, and creativity. You may have the best product in the world, but if people find it difficult to purchase, they will go elsewhere. Make sure your customer journey is as frictionless as possible; empower them to help themselves over as many channels as possible; and let them feel that they are the most important shoppers in the world, and you will be rewarded with true customer loyalty.
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About the Author
Brendon Williamson is the Chief Sales Officer at DPO South Africa.