More so with e-commerce, two things make customers return:
- An excellent product
- An excellent shopping experience
While it is important to go out, get new customers and expand your customer range, it is a tad more important – and incidentally, 6x less expensive – to retain the existing ones, because they are the lifeblood of the business.
As far as excellent products go, that depends on a different team of experts to deliver. But where the ‘shopping experience’ comes in, that’s where you wield your marketing and communication skills, and clinch their loyalty and patronage. Sometimes, a clean and effortless shopping experience can carry even a mediocre product off the shelf. Here is how and why.
- You create a good product. People buy from you.
- More than your product, the customer interactions impact the perception people have of your brand. So you build the customer’s trust.
- Premeditate ways to make the product more exciting and functional. Combine your product with other useful products and offer it to them. Here the feature of either e-mails or push notifications (for mobile apps) can be enlisted.
- Furthermore, improve the product based on feedback.
- Stay abreast of social media trends to understand what people want.
- Put a loyalty programme in place – credit points, gift cards, coupons, discounts. These incentives motivate consumers to download your mobile app to engage with your brand more closely. Given the space-constraints on mobiles, downloading you app indicates that they really like you and intend on connecting with you more often.
- Satisfaction, not infuriation.
- Emphasize customer needs.
- Get feedback – what’s good, what isn’t. Feedback helps you identify problems without you having to analyse it yourself. Customers care enough to give the feedback – either as suggestions, complaints or rants; if you don’t act on it they will drop off and move to your rival.
- You know your buyer persona, you know their pain points beforehand. Make use of this.
- Service queries and troubleshoot as quickly as possible. Prioritise.
- Communication is propitious.
Part I: Help Them Help Themselves – [they prefer this to being forced to talk to a rep]
- Product accessibility and customer service accessibility – make sure both are available across various user-friendly media (website, mobile apps, social media, telephone, e-mail, Yellow Pages, industry-specific review sites etc.)
- Your self-service channels must be adequate. This also means your content must be adapted to different media. Given the portability of mobile devices, this is the most frequent go-to devices for immediate on-the-go help because of its accessibility. It’s not a bad idea to make your e-commerce business mobile compatible.
- Provide plenty of self-help information so they don’t need to use customer services.
- Guarantee informational, educational and comprehensible content.
- Provide the research material they will look for to make decisions.
- Offer different contexts (so customers may chance on you from anywhere), but reduce customer effort to switch contexts (after they have found you). This ease of use will make them stick around.
- Optimise online search results – track key words being used to search or related to your product, offer suggested articles, warrant helpful FAQs, and provide additional assistance during live support sessions.
Part II: When YOU Must Help Them – [this is their last resort]
- Provide excellent customer service – personal not robotic.
- Employ trained staff who are empathetic and believe in your company goals. They will be the people your customers first interact with. (Depending on how they are dealt with, they form impressions about the brand).
- Invest in educating and empowering your team. Give them instrumentality and trust to act on their own.
- Loyalty reflection: ways people express their allegiance to your brand
- spreading the word
- buying more
- don’t go looking for the same products with other companies
- visual marketing – by using it a lot in public or otherwise
- joining brand’s social media
And there you have it: revenue, returns, renown, and recommendations.