In modern eCommerce, it can sometimes seem like the only way to win a sale is the race to the bottom on price. No matter what you’re selling, generally you’ll find at least one other person that is selling what you do, and customers are always looking for a bargain.
Meeting your customer’s needs without racing to the bottom
But where is the future in racing to the bottom? The lower the price, the lower the margin. Suppliers will only sell so cheap, so you can only cut your share of the cost so far before you can’t pay your own costs. Sooner or later something has to give, because ever-diminishing returns make it impossible to pay the wages and other costs, and your business isn’t viable.
Be Different – Be Better
Therefore, as with my previous article on Branding, I want to look at the ways having a high standard of Customer Service offersa good opportunity for you to differentiate yourself in a crowded market, and retain your customers. Not only to retain customers, but gaining new ones bythe QUALITY of your interactions with them.
If you have a good brand, offering good quality products, then in theory – People will pay a little more for the guarantee of a better-quality product. They will also value their interactions with your team if they are well organised, polite and pleasant. These can outweigh the monetary issues for many customers, and those customers are much more likely to be open to forming long term relationships with a retailer, increasing Average Revenue Per Customer overall.
Where do I start?
Customer Service – And the Customer Experience – Start at the point the customer first meets you – Your listings.
Look at your listings, pick one at random.
- Search for it – How easy is it to find by keyword searching or filtering.
- Once you have found it, how easy it is to understand what the item is, what it does and to answer your questions about it.
- Is the listing attractive?
- How well have you illustrated the item? Do you have great, clear hi-res pictures?
Do you have a list of things that are missing, or could be improved? That’s a good place to start. Customers pretty much decide inside of 60-70 seconds if they want to stay on a listing. So, make sure that you have clear, attractive listings to make them WANT to buy from you.
Every time a customer asks you a question about one of your listings, do you go back and add that information to your listing and other listings for similar products? If not, then why not? Surely you don’t believe they are the ONLY one that ever wondered that? Just the first one to stop and ask, instead of looking elsewhere – By putting the answer to the question into the listing(s) it applies to, no one else needs to ask the same question. Pretty soon, all the common questions are covered, so you spend less time answering the same questions about your products, you get more orders, and you spend more time picking, packing and dispatching (Not to mention ordering stock).
Every dealing you have with a customer is part of a larger conversation. And that conversation is telling you how well you present yourself to your customers, and how much they want to buy products from you.
How easy they can find the information they need.
How happy they are with the answers and help they get if they can’t find it already.
And overall, how happy they are to persevere and make a purchase from you. Hopefully they won’t need to persevere – It should just flow…
When the customer does make a purchase:
- Do they come back?
- Have you ever done follow ups with your customers to see how their experience was?
- Did you make any changes based on what they said?
We’re not perfect – None of us are. What we learn from our day to day interactions with the customers who pay our mortgages, and we keep improving. We learn and grow, and we remember that no 2 customers are alike.
So, we’re trying to make it as easy as possible for as many people as possible to find what they want from what we sell, learn what they want about our products, and then buy them.
What’s more, it would be great if they would come back and buy from us again, and again…
And even better if they got their friends to come and buy from us….
So, we have attractive listings, with lots of information and clear images of our products.People will buy lots of things from us, and everything is great, correct?
Not quite. Next you must get the product(s) they ordered to the customer, when they expect it, and in good condition.
This means you need 2 things:
- A good system for picking and packing your orders accurately and quickly.
- The right courier(s) that can be trusted to not just get the boxful of goodies to them in time, but in one piece. And to deliver it TO them, as opposed to putting it in the pond, or on the roof of the garage.
There’s a range of answers to the 1st part. Depending on the size of your company and the number of orders you fulfill, these range from Glenda, who must be feared because she knows where all the skeletons are buried and ticks off all the orders to make sure you do your job, via a general purpose, scalable system like Linnworks, up to a High-end Warehouse Management System like PeopleVox. Essentially though, their job is to make sure that if someone orders 3 Orange Clubs, a Penguin and a Pouch of Frozen Mohitos – They don’t open a box to find a stuffed penguin, a cinnamon stock and a pair of orange slippers. The trick here is that people are much happier when they get what they ordered. They don’t complain (mostly), they rate you highly when asked to, and they order from you again, because you were awesome last time.
We’ll look at the next part (and beyond) in more detail in the 2nd part of this article – Getting the order from you to the customer in one piece, and in the time expected.
Remember the end goal here, though.
If you do things right, then the customers are happy, because they have what they wanted, when you promised it.
“Gold star, 5/5, would spend money again.”
If it goes AWOL though – That’s a VERY different matter. Then you need your patience, your smile and your very best behaviour. Because if the customer is being a nightmare cos they have the wrong item, or it’s taken 3 days to get there on 2-3 day delivery, then you have be as polite, friendly and make them feel like they’re you’re best friend. Not because the customer is always right. But because a happy customer says nice things about you and your team. A Happy customer comes back to spend more.
And a happy customer doesn’t leave 1 and 2 star reviews – usually!