Customer service experience is essential to any digital retail experience.
Online retail is a battleground, and store owners control how their store is positioned, based on the following factors:
- Product Range
- Prominence (ie. SEO, advertising & marketing)
- Design & functionality
- Customer Experience
In this post, I'm going to focus on customer experience, the most important marketing tool for any online store. Even if you rely on a competitive edge in the other areas (ie. lowest prices or biggest marketing budget) to drive your sales, a good customer experience will always improve your bottom line.
Start by thinking bricks and mortar
Here are some ice breakers that a retail assistant might throw at you when you walk into a bricks and mortar store:
All of these comments are nothing more than small talk. But they all start a conversation and the response to that ice breaker helps the assistant to serve you better (or leave you alone).
Digital ice breakers
There are some observations that are difficult to make when someone visits a website. You can't see what they are wearing (thankfully, in many cases!).
But there are lots of things we do know:
- Time and day of week
- Whether they have visited before
- How long they have been on the site
- What pages on the site are popular
If you used all of this information to start a conversation with a customer who walked into your store, you could (but wouldn't) greet them like this:
"Happy Wednesday! It’s great to have you back. Our March specials are over here and all our customers in Melbourne have been loving these shoes. Perhaps you’d like them too!"
Rather than hit up your customers with a mouthful, you can seed this across your customer journey to personalise every step of it.
Remember people's names
If you're anything like me, you're awful at remembering people's names. I am equally impressed and embarrassed when I see someone who I met two years ago at a party and they remember my name, but I don't remember theirs.
This is an area where so many websites should be more aggressive in their marketing.
Two simple golden rules:
- When someone buys something from your store, do everything you can to make them sign up for an account.
- When they come back, do everything you can to make them use it
Nervous that making every customer create a password for your store will deter customers from making a purchase? There are things you can do to counter this:
- Run a test for a few days by making customer accounts mandatory and see if it impacts your conversion rate
- Offer a discount code or shipping discount to account holders
- Make customer accounts useful (see below)
User accounts aren't just about being able to greet a person by their name. Think about what other information you can capture that will improve a customer's experience.Capturing a customer's clothing or shoe size can massively improve the store experience by featuring products that are available in a customer's size and hiding products that are out of stock.
Ask the most important question first
Most fashion stores do this pretty well. You arrive on a store and see two buttons, SHOP MEN and SHOP WOMEN. Total customer experience no brainer.
Recently I was shopping for some stuff for my cat. Every online pet store I went onto took me to a homepage featuring products for cats, dogs, fish, chickens, horses etc.
Personally, I don't go to an online pet store very often, so there aren't many opportunities to expose me to cat products. By funnelling me straight to a Cat homepage, they would have a chance to show me all kinds of cat-related junk.
My odds of buying something for a dog, fish, chicken or horse: 0%
My odds of buying something for a cat: Higher than 0%
How to get started
Start Simple. Think about minor changes you can make to your site before making massive structural changes. Track these changes and tweak them until you feel that you're on the right track.
Create a roadmap. Document your customer experience from beginning to end and look at all the different places you can improve the customer experience.
Personalisation isn’t just about adding. Hiding content or messaging that is irrelevant to particular customers can add more to the customer experience than trying to be everything to everyone.
Fake it before you automate it. There are great apps available to help deliver great customer experience, and Shopify developers can customise your store to deliver stuff. But there's also lots of things on your store you can change without adding new functionality or infrastructure.
Think about it every day.