Staying Personally Connected to Online Customers
"Every choice you make has an end result." That famous quote by Zig Ziglar is the foundation of much of his teaching. It is also a good way to live life in general, but it is especially applicable to those of us in business. This applies whether you work for yourself or work for someone else. Every decision we make has some sort of result---good or bad.
Today’s marketplace is more competitive than ever and it is perhaps the most important time ever to make a decision to genuinely connect with our customers. That seems easy enough if the majority of the customers walk into a brick-and-mortar store, because it’s natural to strike up a conversation face-to-face and make a personal connection, but what about online only retailers.
I conducted a strategic analysis of Nordstrom in college. The one thing that really stood out to me about Nordstrom is that their goal is always to serve their customers better. They do this by exemplary customer service and adjusting how they do that based upon ever-changing customer needs. In fact, their vision and mission statement addresses this, “…while serving our customers face-to-face is the foundation and hallmark of how we’ve historically served them, today customers seeks our service in new ways. Speed, convenience, innovation, and personalization have become cornerstones of the customer experience…” If the presence and real threat of online sales has caught the attention of a successful powerhouse like Nordstrom so much so that they are making changes to better serve their customers based on online needs and expectations to stay competitive, shouldn’t you?
Online retailers are often at a disadvantage, as consumers tend to be less loyal simply because there is often no personal connection. The best way to address this is just as Nordstrom is addressing it, by offering customers the best service possible. How can an online-only retailer do this?
- Consider everything from the point-of-view of the customer. Think like a customer. Is your website hard to navigate? Is there enough detail about products or services—as in pictures, accurate descriptions and specifications? Is the purchasing process user-friendly? If the customer has a positive experience on the front he or she is more likely to return, but if the customer associates stress, uncertainty or anxiety while using your website you will not only lose the immediate sale, but their future business altogether.
- A business that has a difficult return process is most likely not going to get my business again in the future. For example, it is quite easy to return something that is purchased on Amazon. Last week, I purchased a couple of items from another online retailer and it is quite difficult to make a return. I don’t make a habit of returning items, but when I do, I need it to be easy and I don’t want to feel like criminal if I need to return something.
- “Statistics suggest that when customers complain, business owners and managers ought to get excited about it. The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business.” Yet another great quote by Zig. Don’t just hear your customers, but really listen to them. Research suggests that 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from 20% of your existing customers.
- Offer something personal when the customer receives the product. For example, I prefer to use small online retailers because they have a way of making me feel like they truly appreciate my business by simply taking care when wrapping my item in pretty tissue paper or sending a personal handwritten note of thanks with my order.
- I appreciate retailers that remember my birthday by sending me an email with a special discount during my birthday month. If you own a jewelry business, you could send a discount for an upcoming anniversary.
- If you have an app, send your followers fun notifications that do not have anything to do with your product. A company that does this very well is Poshmark. They send a notification or two throughout the day that say things like, “The best time for new beginnings is now.” This is probably my favorite app, because these little messages often come at a time during my workday that could use something a fun.
The key in today’s global marketplace is differentiating yourself by offering a personal touch. Whether your differentiating factor is a beautiful piece of tissue paper wrapped around each item, a personal thank-you, an app that sends your customers a fun message or something completely different and unique to you it does not matter, just find it and stay consistent. Cyberspyder can help you get your website and apps up to today’s consumer expectations. Give them a call today at 479.782.0005.