Many people say that earning customer loyalty online is an impossible task. That price is key and he who is cheapest will win the sale. Now whilst this is true for some of the most price conscious customers out there, this is certainly not the case for the majority of online customers. There are 3 easy areas that you can work on in your business to give you the best chance in bringing back your customers and increasing your customer loyalty. These three steps can all be branched under one core umbrella. CONVENIENCE! Convenience is king online and is often the key difference between many online sellers. If you can make a customer’s life as easy as possible and promise them some form of security, you make the buying process for them as stress free as possible and because of that they are much more likely to return.
This is perhaps an obvious one to some, but if you can get this right then you put yourself in good stead in winning a customer. Delivery does not purely refer to the price of having an item delivered, but also takes into account the time it takes to get your item delivered. If you don’t believe that this is incredibly important to online buyers, then check out this report over on econsultancy: http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/10052-free-shipping-and-delivery-timing-are-key-for-customer-satisfaction Do you offer a free shipping option? Do you over an expedited service at an extra charge? Do you subsidise some of the postage costs into the unit price to make shipping look more attractive? There are many different possibilities when deciding on your delivery strategy. But if you can get this right then you have a really good chance of bringing back some repeat business. To let you know how little a difference it can take to swing a customer, if I put my consumer hat on for a moment. If I was buying a product online and it was offered by two different sellers, the prices were identical, and delivery was identical except for the courier used. If one of the businesses used DPD, then I would pick them. Purely because my experiences with DPD in the past have been brilliant and I usually get a 1 hour slot for when the item will be delivered. Something as little as that would make me personally much more likely to use you again in the future.
If you are a long time reader of the blog here, or have come across the Podcasts that I did with Matt over at LastDropOfInk then you will know how we categorise a lot of online buyers. Scared! Thanks to the early days of eBay and the number of horror stories that people like to cling on to in the early days of online selling. Now whilst a lot of buyers are now more relaxed and don’t think that every online seller is out to scam them, there is a deep rooted behaviour which still remains. What happens if I don’t like it or it isn’t what I expected? Thankfully a lot of buyers these days are aware of the distance selling regulations brought in the year 2000. A link to them is here if you are unaware of them: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2000/2334/contents/made . From a merchants perspective, you have a clear minimum requirement of what you have to offer in terms of your returns policy. However, by going beyond that or putting in place measures to ensure that the whole experience is as clean and convenient as possible you increase the likelihood of a customer returning to you, even if something goes wrong. Even though most of your customers will never have to experience your returns procedure, by ensuring that the ones that do have the smoothest ride possible gives you the best chance at retaining customers.
3. Customer Service
Now this is perhaps an obvious one, but once again it has multiple faces so bear with me on this. Again a lot of customers may never contact you so you may think that this is not as important as I make out. The point here is, you need to let your customers know that you have the ability to deal with their queries or problems should they arise. The number of businesses that I still see that have no phone number on their website or listings shocks me. When something goes wrong or is not as expected a customer is looking for re-assurance. Or if they have a question about a listing, they are ready to buy and want an answer then and there. Give them the ability to talk to you. It is a proven fact that people like doing business with people they like. Let them get to know you and give them a face or name for your company. My tips for good customer service are pretty straight forward really, make sure you have a phone number listed, and your hours of operation, also publish some rough response time such as ‘we aim to answer all questions/queries within 24 hours’ and make sure you stick to them.
I was chatting to a good friend of mine a few weeks ago who runs an incredibly successful online business, and we spoke briefly about customer loyalty online. He made a statement that his dad had passed on down to him. He said that back when his dad had bricks and mortar shops 30 years ago, it was all about convenience for the customer. Could you provide them with a better service than they could get elsewhere. Could you be remarkable and rememberable to them. If you could then you would have a customer for life.
All you have to do is apply those same rules to online. Stand out from the crowd, go the extra mile, make the customer feel valued and be remarkable.
Easy eh 😉