Whether you’re shifting or just beginning to take your business online or just expanding your website, prioritizing customer service is a must. In fact, 54% of consumers reported that they base their decisions on a business’s customer service. On top of that, 92% of consumers say they’ll switch to another company after three or fewer bad experiences.
Quality customer service doesn’t just help you retain customers, it also helps your business to:
- Build brand awareness
- Finalize transactions
- Get referrals from happy customers
- Increase brand loyalty
- Increase revenue — customers are often willing to pay more for good service
So keep reading if you’re ready to learn strategies that’ll motivate your customers to choose your business every time.
How do you provide excellent customer service online?
Providing customer service that makes a positive impact is going to take some strategy upfront. Here are some essential tips for providing quality customer service online.
Ask for feedback
Your customers’ feedback can give you direct insight into their preferences and expectations. Some strategies for gathering feedback are:
Post questions or polls on your social media sites like Facebook and Twitter
If possible, you’ll want to comment back to every customer that responds. Your goal is to engage with your customers often. This not only satisfies customers asking questions but it also shows others that your company takes feedback seriously.
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Email quick surveys to customers or post them on your website
Regardless of how you collect responses, surveys are one of the most direct methods for gathering your customers’ insights, opinions, and expectations. Some tips for producing good survey questions are:
- Keep them short
- Ask for only one thing in each question
- Use closed-ended questions that are clear and easy to answer
Send an automated email to thank your customers after they buy an item
On this email, you should include a feedback section that customers can fill out to share their experience. You’ll also want to make sure your email title is interesting enough to get customers to open it. Something as simple as including a coupon can be a huge help.
Offer a spot on your site to post reviews
Allowing your customers to post their reviews for your product helps your business gain credibility. These reviews not only help customers make decisions on their own about your products, but they can also build trust in your business. Most customers value reviews over a simple product description.
Reviews also allow you to find faults in your products and services that you can fix. You can look at your competitors’ reviews to find any issues people are having with their products. This can help you anticipate problems with your own products.
Add feedback forms to your website
These feedback forms are all about convenience. They allow customers to quickly type their feedback to you and send it while they’re on your website. Importantly, these forms allow your customers to provide feedback without leaving the page they’re on, so they can continue shopping afterward.
Offer free shipping
While covering shipping costs can run you more upfront, it keeps customers coming back for more purchases in the long run. You should include your free shipping offer in your marketing messages and across all your social media platforms. When you do, it will likely bring in new customers and increase your total sales.
You can offer free shipping to your customers on orders that are over a certain amount of money or for purchases with two or more products, for example. This strategy saves you more money than if you offered free shipping on all items. In addition, you can offer free shipping (and even gift wrapping) for certain holidays or during a predetermined period. You can market this as a promotional event to help draw customers in. Whichever strategy you choose, offering free shipping always helps you stay competitive.
Give customers appreciation gifts
If a customer makes a larger purchase, for instance, you can surprise them with a small gift in the package they receive. Many companies include small stickers with their company logo. These help build a positive experience and brand loyalty with the recipient.
Appreciation gifts also show your customers you value them and are grateful for their business. These gifts can also be a form of free advertising — if your customer puts the sticker or gift where other people will see it, or posts it to their social media, you might spark a conversation.
Ideas for customer appreciation gifts
- Bottle openers
- Key chains
- Laser pointers
- 2GB flash drives
- Drawstring backpacks
Make sure your website is user-friendly
You want consumers to have a positive experience with your website every time they use it. This means you’ll want to spend the time to create a website that is user-friendly. A user-friendly site generally leads to increased activity on your webpages, more sales, and improved search engine optimization (SEO) for better visibility
Key features for a user-friendly website are:
A simple journey – Ideally, you don’t want anything on your website to be more than three clicks away. Meaning, if someone arrives at your home page, they shouldn’t have to do more than three clicks to get to the product page they’re looking for. This means you need to keep your website simple, starting with your homepage or main navigation, and branching out from there.
Great content – People learn in different ways. Some people like reading. Others like video. Others like auditory instructions. It’s a good idea to set up your product page descriptions with this in mind. Incorporate information with written content, video, and photography. You also want to provide as much information about the product as possible to reduce the questions customers may have.
Mobile responsiveness – If your website isn’t mobile-optimized (meaning it looks good on a desktop and a mobile device), consider making that a priority. Website builders like Constant Contact’s automatically ensure that your website is mobile-responsive, but regardless of the platform you’re using, you’ll want to test out everything on your website to check for errors. Fix any broken button or link, for example. Those sorts of malfunctions can quickly frustrate customers and drive them off of your site.
Offer multiple options for contacting your business
If your customers are running into issues on your website, it’s important that they can easily contact support. Some options for this include:
- Live chat – Most business websites offer a live chat function. You can hire companies such as Aquire and Comm100 to manage your live chat functions. It’s recommended that you place the live chat feature in the lower right-hand corner of every page on your site. You want to personalize your customer service chat to include the customer’s name, and if possible, buying history in communications. This can make your customers feel more important and cared for as well as speed up resolutions.
- Email —You absolutely need to provide an email address for your customers to contact you. Any customer inquiry should be handled within 24 hours. As with Live Chat, you want to personalize your emails by using the customer’s name and their order history. Always propose a solution to the customer’s issue. Don’t just say, “We’ll look into this.” Lastly, don’t provide long lists of instructions in your email responses. Place those instructions on your website and link to them in your email communications. This helps save you time, but it’s also easier for your customers to read and bookmark if they are on your website instead of an email chain.
- Phone — This may seem old fashioned, but being accessible by phone is still important for customer service. If a customer is having a serious problem, they should be able to reach one of your employees to help. That said, for each employee you hire, you’ll want to make sure you have enough workers’ compensation coverage. If you expect a high volume of customer calls, or you don’t have enough employees to handle the calls, you can outsource this job to a call center company. Companies such as 1-888-GO-Answer or TeleDirect are industry leaders in outsourcing call center services.
Better customer service = better business
Improving and expanding your business’s customer service skills is never going to be a waste of time. Investing in your customer experience can actually help you grow your business by fortifying a loyal customer base, gaining greater visibility, and increasing your revenue.
Who knows — your business may grow so fast that you need to expand your website and business insurance coverage. But remember what’s most important as you expand your customer service offerings — the more customers that leave your business with a positive experience, the better.