Sure, the customer experience has always been a key aspect of any sales-driven business. Yet, the proliferation of eCommerce and the fact that seemingly limitless retail options now exist has made putting customers first not only a priority but, in fact, the most important aspect of your business.
Delighting eCommerce customers — that is, providing such comprehensive and mindfully strategic service that they are enticed to return time and again to your business — is such an indispensable benchmark that it may be worthwhile to re-evaluate your existing processes to tailor them specifically to this objective. Here are some of the best ways to do just that.
- Personalize your service: Today’s consumers expect a certain level of personalization in any business they choose to patronize. Target specific segments of your customer base and designate marketing efforts, communications and other forms of outreach that are tailored to each type of individual or business that might need your product or service.
- Stay on top of social media: Even those of you who deem social media a pointless endeavor need to overcome that bias because the fact remains that sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are integral marketing tools used by virtually every business nationwide. Regardless of the type of business you’re in, this is among the best ways to connect with customers and gauge their feedback as well as spread awareness of your product or service.
- Introduce a price-difference refund: Have you ever been the position wherein you make a purchase only to discover mere days later that another retail outlet has the very same item for a markedly cheaper price? So you know how valuable a policy it is to customers if you offer a price-difference refund that can essentially win back customer goodwill. Even if it means you lose part of that initial profit, the long-term effect of customers feeling more confident regarding future purchases is well worth it.
- Build an online FAQ forum: Nowadays, consumers are more research-savvy than ever before. So long before they make a purchase, many potential customers will be conducting comprehensive research into products. Having a customer-centered forum in which users can interact and answer questions about your product or service can help steer uncertain consumers into your business. Moreover, you can use this forum as a helpdesk for customer service inquiries.
- Employ strategic pricing: Pricing is naturally one of the deciding factors during a consumer’s decision whether or not to make a purchase. Countless pricing strategies are at your disposal now, and thanks to automated pricing software, they can be employed with minimal effort. Which approach works best for your business may remain to be seen, but it’s certainly worth the effort to explore your options to optimize revenue.
- Offer free shipping: Once upon a time, free shipping seemed like a foolish endeavor. In the current, highly competitive state of eCommerce, it’s not even a question. Even if they must meet certain criteria to receive it, customers expect free shipping to at least be an option. Be sure to have multiple shipping options on the table for your customer base, as the short-term loss of some profits will lead to increased brand loyalty. In addition, it may be wise to surprise loyal customers with free shipping on occasion, since it makes them feel special and appreciated.
- Provide online chat: In many cases, customers may consider themselves too busy or distracted to pick up a phone to contact your customer service department. Instead, invest in an online chat function for your business, especially since such functionality is extremely easy to implement now. After all, research shows that 77 percent of customers deemed online chat an important factor in shaping their perspective of a given retailer.
- Start a customer loyalty program: If you really want to cultivate a fiercely devoted customer base (particularly if your business centers on repeat purchases), you should introduce a customer loyalty program as soon as possible. Whether this system is based on coupons or simply a points system, you want to encourage customers to come back again and again. Incentives are certainly the name of the game in retail right now.
- Be as transparent as you can: If there’s one thing that customers appreciate above all else, it is a sense of transparency. Because of the information-rich world in which we live, consumers are extremely wary of being duped or ripped off. Make a concerted effort to make your business practices and policies clear and easy-to-understand. Yes, even your return policy.
The Customer Always Comes First
Although we’re assuming that your business has long recognized the importance of maintaining strong customer service, we hope that the above advice has shed some fresh light on ways in which you can inject even more stability into your existing processes. Perhaps not all of the above tactics will prove effective for your specific niche or customer base.
Still, we’re confident that we’ve hit some of the most popular and proven methods to engage your customers and encourage them to continue turning to your business for their needs. Considering that the entire eCommerce landscape hinges on customers, don’t underestimate the impact that even a few of these tricks can have on your profitability.