If you want to make a lasting impression on your audience and retain them longer, creating a delightful customer experience has to be on the top of your growth agenda. Over the years, online businesses have realized that the typical customer journey – from the on-site buying experience to the unboxing of a product – is a goldmine of opportunities to surprise and delight buyers. From the retention point of view, the advantage this can create for online businesses is tremendous.
Customers expect more from the companies they buy from. Customer satisfaction is the new normal and brands have begun to recognize the importance of going ‘above and beyond’ to hold on to their market share.
According to the retail operations platform Brightpearl, 67% of millennials and 56% of Gen Xers say that they are less loyal to a particular brand today than a year ago. Clearly, the focus for online stores needs to shift from just customer acquisition to delivering the goods – and delivering them well.
9 Simple Ways to Delight Your Customers
The key question is: How do you get your customers to like you enough to keep buying from you?
1. Let ‘em know you’re listening
If a customer posts on social media about a poor experience they’ve had with your business, a response is expected. This may sound obvious, however, many businesses do not respond as they should, which only adds to the customer’s frustration.
A full 51% of shoppers expect a response when they post a negative review about a product online, but 85% of those surveyed did not get one, according to consulting firm, Maritz Research. To turn average customer experience into delight, your response to a customer’s comment on social media or other channels needs to be lightning fast. Do this well and you will have earned yourself a loyal customer for life.
2. Solve problems quickly
Customers buy a product more for its perceived benefit than for any single physical attribute. Problems are opportunities for you to exceed expectations and create rapport with customers. The best part is that you can solve problems for customers without too much effort, through an on-site knowledge base – a collection of helpful FAQs and useful content – that educates, entertains and delights them.
Too many open tickets may mean that you need more support, especially during certain holidays and weekends when sales volume can pick up substantially. The cost of beefing up your support team can be kept down by hiring on-demand help through a customer support outsourcing partner.
3. Freebies and complimentary offers
A complimentary freebie can engage customers and help start a conversation about your product or service, letting them get a feel for it. For this to work, the free gift or complimentary offer must be relevant and timely.
Many of the best brands include a free, completely unexpected gift whenever the first order from a certain customer is shipped out. This serves to add that additional wow factor to their first experience with you. Whenever you go above and beyond what a customer expected out of your brand, the likelihood of them converting into your champions just becomes greater.
It is extremely important that you know your target audience’s needs and expectations to leverage free gifts and increase customer loyalty. This is especially critical if you’re in an industry such as upholstery where the average order value can be significant. In the discovery phase, where a customer interacts with you for the very first time, it can be very useful to offer them free samples (like fabric swatches) so that the customer gets a small taste of your brand before they decide to spend $1,000+ on a piece of sofa.
4. Anticipate needs and deliver what you say you will
The typical online shopper is short on time and has a low attention span because of it. Anything you can do to help make their lives easier is sure to be appreciated and rewarded with continued business. The simplest thing that you can do to provide a seamless customer experience is to make information easier to find on your site, streamline return/exchange policy and keep your word when it comes to delivery times, policies or scheduled downtime. Make sure the customers are adequately warned about any customs charges or taxes on the product page itself.
You should also try to remove as many complications from the post-purchase experience as possible. It can be absolutely devastating for an international customer, for example, if they are asked to pay for the return shipping whenever they receive an item that they’re not satisfied with. Make sure that your return policy is aimed at creating great experiences and churning out champions. Create an easy to understand the return policy and always give the power of discretion to your customer service reps so that they can go out of their way to make your customers happy.
5. Be honest and transparent
According to a study, 81% of shoppers say transparency is important or extremely important. Customers today want to know not just when their problem will be solved, but also how it is going to be solved. This helps them develop a realistic understanding of the ‘behind the scenes’ process your team follows and builds trust.
So, if you’re facing an issue with your suppliers or the postal service be upfront about it. Try to reach out to your customers as soon as you detect a potential issue with their orders, much before they have to write to you about anything. This makes them feel that despite all the issues that you’re having to face as a small or medium sized business, you’re doing your best to look after them. Nothing serves to sweeten their experience like proactive support rather than reactive support. Even if your operations are going through a precarious situation, some mere honesty can help keep your customers’ confidence in you intact.
6. Ask for feedback
The easiest way to delight customers and nip attrition in the bud, is to ask for feedback. A customer is likely to be candid about your biggest strengths and shortcomings; which can help you discover new ways of providing value to them. After every chat/phone interaction, send your customers a quick feedback form via email or add one to your checkout page. Remember to keep it simple and conversational to get the best feedback.
7. Feature the most loyal customers on your site
Reward loyalty to attract loyalty. Feature your best customers (top 5%) on your website and invite them to share their experience with the rest of your audience. Not only does this solidify existing customer relationships, but it also gives the larger community a fellow user’s perspective on the value you create for them.
Share their social posts talking about your product and appreciate their gesture. User-generated content is perceived as having greater credibility by customers and leverages the peer factor to increase sales.
8. Offer reward points and discounts
It is quite natural to think that rewards programs are only for multi-million dollar brands. However, online stores can leverage reward points to increase their average sales per customer and also give customers an added reason to buy from them. True, it may be some time before you see results from it, however, you will be glad you invested in a rewards program when it does pay off.
From the customer experience point of view, a multi-layer loyalty program can give customers more value for money and create more reasons for them to keep coming back to you.
9. Give customers more value
There are probably many competitors out there that have products and prices very similar to yours, which means these days, your customers are more likely to switch than ever before. To differentiate yourself, you need to add more value. Cutting prices is just one way (within reason!), focusing on quality or convenience is another.
Think about what makes you better than anybody else and why your most loyal customers keep returning to you. Identify your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and look for ways to 10X it. By increasing the benefits of your product for customers – by iterating on a regular basis – you can earn their gratitude and loyalty, not to mention delighting them.
As an online store owner, you probably have a lot on your plate on a daily basis. Some important things may just fall through the cracks, despite your best efforts. If you need extra hands on deck – to support customers or boost pre-sale orders – choose an outsourced customer support provider that offers the right blend of quality and cost-effectiveness. Helplama offers a zero-risk guarantee that covers every possible need. Call us today to know more!