This is a guest post written by Stefanie Amini, a fellow customer service blogger. As she describes it, her blog “is focused on Customer Service for the Instant Gratification era. The ‘I want it now’ mentality. The faster the results, the better for everyone.” Find out more about Stefanie and her blog, I Want it NOW at the end of the post.
My blog has been aimed at an audience of customer service professionals intent on delivering the World’s Best Customer Experience in person. Stefanie’s blog offers insight for e-commerce retailers and service providers. As you read her post, you will see that whether you are selling face-to-face or on-line, her customer service advice would work well in either the bricks and mortar or virtual retail environment.
Time is money. Time is short. Customers don’t have the time or inclination to mess around on a web site when they are intent on buying something. Purchasing patterns, needs, desires, and behavior are changing rapidly and getting customers while they are “hot to trot” is the trick.
There are a number of triggers which get customers to walk into a brick and mortar store. They are:
- Curious about the store and its merchandise
- Attracted by what they see in the window
- Enticed through promotion
- Acting on a recommendation by others who had a good experience – service, price, quality
Store assistants – if they are doing their jobs properly – are attentive, helpful, polite, knowledgeable, and efficient. All this leads to a satisfying customer experience, the developing of customer relationships and of course, ultimately profits for the store concerned.
Exactly the same principles apply to customers entering a virtual store on the Internet. But people who shop on the internet have less time to wander around, have less inclination to wait at the checkout, become very irritable very quickly if things are not clear and easy to understand and activate…and will very soon “walk out” of your web store, by clicking on someone else’s. Result? Lost sales.
How do we ensure that customers get what they want? How do we even know what customers want? Let’s crawl inside a typical customer’s head and take a look around. We’ll soon find the most important things for customers when they fire up their computers intent on spending money in cyber-space – hopefully in YOUR cyber-space store. Here are a few keys to good customer service. If the service is good, the customer experience will be good:
- Customers want to feel that you care about them: that you care about their needs and requirements, that you’re concerned about their problems. Gratification of expectations – the quicker and more efficiently the better – will see an immediate spike in the “like” index for your on-line store….and that means more sales and a better reputation
- Faster delivery is vital: the faster you deliver, the happier your customer. That means he or she will come back for more.
- Courtesy and friendliness are vital elements: customers expect to be treated well, they expect courtesy, they expect politeness and while they don’t necessarily want to be your “friend” (unless it’s on Facebook), they will NOT come back if the treatment – virtually or otherwise – is offhand and dismissive.
- Deliver on your promise: and the promise starts the minute the customer walks in the virtual door. Fulfilled promises are key to customer satisfaction.
- When people go shopping, they don’t just want to clutter up their homes or lives with “stuff” – they need something to solve a problem. Whether it’s a professional service or booking a holiday flight, they have needs that must be fulfilled.
- Product knowledge is probably one of the most important elements in developing good service and good customer experiences. Ignorant sales people – or “ignorant” web sites, that don’t help users get the information they need, will not succeed. Users need to feel that they are talking to people or using sites that are experts in their field. A site that promotes and sells green widgets had better be an expert in green widgets. It’s what customers pay for. It’s what implied and expected when you promote your cyber store.
- Go a step beyond voicemail and automated responses. Customers want to believe that a live person is behind the site – but they don’t necessarily want to do their sale with a live person…as long as support and more in-depth information is just a click away. Live chat caters for this and gives the customer assurance that their queries will be answered (although it can sometimes take time to get a rep online). But there are other “assistants” – such as WalkMe – to hold the customer’s hand and lead them to the checkout. Taking this all into consideration may seem a daunting task: it may even appear to be overwhelming. But WalkMe’s “live” ever-present “assistant”, in the form of little pop-up bubbles over various points, solves the ever-present fear of wandering through a web site alone. Users and customers can be easily led through an often complex and confusing interaction, be it a bank website or a complex social tool.
The fact is that you just need to be able to understand your customer and who they are. Then only can you truly sell to them the way they want to be sold.
Stefanie Amini is the Marketing Director and Specialist in Customer Success at WalkMe, the world’s first interactive online guidance system. She is chief writer and editor of I Want It Now, a blog for Customer Service Experts. Follow her on Twitter @StefWalkMe