Content provided by FedEx
You (and your customers) can buy just about anything you want online. But just like in the real world, great service with online transactions can make a big difference in maintaining customer loyalty. In fact, it’s probably the one thing small-business owners can do better and more effectively than anyone else.
After all, you likely live in the community you serve, and you understand your customers’ needs. But just what does it take to provide truly great customer service that builds customer loyalty — especially when you’re competing online and off-line?
You never know when — or how — a customer or prospect will want to contact you. Your next big customer could be at their computer, driving in their car or having a business dinner when they hear about your company and want to know more.
So make sure they can reach you in a number of ways, starting with:
- phone number
- text message
- email address
- website “contact us” form
- website features (Google Maps/directions, live chat, etc.)
Make a good first impression.
The customer experience starts the moment someone sees your shop door or finds your website, so be mindful of how they look.
With a clean, well-organized website that offers pertinent information, including details about your business’ hours of operation, location, contact information, etc., you stand a better chance of helping customers find the information they need right when they need it.
Keep this in mind — both your physical location and your website should be good representations of what your company is all about.
Socialize your customer service.
In the era of Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter, the notion of customer service is changing. No longer is it just asking, “Can I help you?” or walking customers through a catalog. It now also includes attending to their needs online — in a variety of ways.
“Savvy marketers are listening to what their customers and prospects have to say online,” says Neil Rosen, author and CEO of eWayDirect. “[This allows marketers] to communicate directly to them much earlier in the decision-making process.”
By engaging with customers and potential customers in social spaces, you can also manage complaints and requests quickly (as issues arise), offer special discounts to friends and followers to encourage return visits, and learn more about your customers — so you can respond by better addressing their needs.
A lot can be said for an honest “Thanks for stopping in” or “Have a good day.” And a handwritten note or email thanking customers for their purchase can also build good will and encourage repeat business.
Keep at it.
“Retailers pay a steep price by not focusing on loyalty,” declares an eMarketer article. “Even though return purchasers and repeat purchasers accounted for only 8 percent of site visitors, they generated a disproportionately high 41 percent of site sales.” Clearly, maintaining customer loyalty is crucial to your bottom line — and continued success.
So the questions of “What is customer loyalty in the online era?” and “How do we keep customers coming back with increased online competition?” are best answered with a single statement:
Focus on building a lasting relationship — online and in person — that shows your commitment to every aspect of your customer’s journey.
NFIB members: Keep customers coming back with tips to help you provide exceptional customer service with FedEx. Learn more.