Online shopping can be a lifesaver, not least when you’re trying to buy a dress for a beach wedding when there’s six inches of snow on the ground outside. However, my recent virtual shopping trip reminded me how important it is to take care of your whole customer experience, with your digital presence and offline – whatever the nature of your business.
In the case of the floaty beach number, the retailer was a luxury high street brand whose beautiful stores I’d longingly browsed many times. Yet having purchased online, I was slapped with a hefty delivery charge, received incorrect order confirmation details, and the dress arrived with its magnetic security tag still attached. The icing on the cake was a customer service phone number that didn’t work from a mobile (like most of my generation, I don’t have a landline) and no one replied to the email I sent. In fact, I’m still waiting.
Fortunately, the staff in my nearest store were fantastic. Quite out of their job description, they helped me resolve the entire fiasco, and even offered me a special discount to keep my custom. The whole saga left me with the reminder that for most businesses, your customers expect and deserve a seamless experience between your digital presence and your physical outlets. Here are some tips on how you can ensure your customers are delighted, rather than disappointed, with your brand:
- Take time to map out several possible ‘journeys’ that your customers could take, from finding out about you to making a purchase. Put yourself in their shoes, give them a name, imagine what their needs are and consider whether your current processes are meeting them – on and offline.
- Consider enlisting mystery shoppers to make sure the processes you put in place and the training your staff have done is as you expect. If a spot check shows up some inefficiencies and mistakes, chances are your customers are enduring the same bad experience.
- Your customers should be able to contact you at their convenience, whether by email, call or in person. If they do so ‘out of hours’ you should have a way to automatically thank them for getting in touch and explain when someone will reply. That promise needs to be kept – so ensure you have the resources to meet your commitment.
- “The customer is always right” may seem like an outdated concept, but it’s one that many businesses would do well to remember. If you receive a complaint, try to start from the customer’s point of view. While you’ll be keen to defend your business and its staff, it’s essential that you really listen to the complaint – you may learn some key lessons about your business and the way it’s perceived by others.
- Think about how you can integrate you digital and offline experiences to help your customers find what they need when they need it. If you’re running a promotion, make sure it’s in a prominent place on the website and in store. Learn from online promotions on sites like Google and Facebook to see how your customers are searching for you and talking about you.
- Don’t forget the little things. If your store wraps items in nice tissue paper before putting them in the shopping bag, do the same for online purchases. Similarly, if your sales reps in the store routinely ask shoppers if they found everything they needed, make sure your online customers are asked the same.
If you need some help putting your customers at the centre of your marketing strategy, I’d love to hear from you – get in touch here.