Amazon became an ecommerce giant because it is very customer-centric. The company is willing to take on losses just to give their customers the advantage in both cost and convenience. However, how can you compete with Amazon when you can’t afford to offer cheaper products and faster delivery? By making your customers successful.
What do we mean by “making customers successful”?
As a customer interacts with your store, they can either have a successful result or a failure result. A successful result is one where they get everything they want from your store and leave feeling good about it. A failure result is one where a customer leaves without getting what they wanted or leaves feeling bad about their experience.
So, when we talk about making customers successful, we’re talking about delivering that successful result for them--where they leave completely satisfied.
Serve your customers
If we’re going plainly with the definition, customer service is anything you do to help your customers. But, in the context of business, it takes on a whole new meaning.
When it comes to running an ecommerce store, customer service becomes more than just “something you do.” It’s actually one of the most crucial parts of a customer’s interaction with your store. Why? Because of its timing.
Customer service is responsible for two important things for online stores: Education and Support. Usually, these occur before and after the purchase, respectively. That means your customer service is the foundation of your sales and repeat sales. It’s what makes people feel confident about buying from you in the first place and then helps them maintain that trust afterward (so that they hopefully become repeat customers!).
Education: Giving information to the customer
In physical stores, the customer service desk either has “customer service” or “information” displayed. If you can’t find what you’re looking for or need help with something, the customer service or information desk is the first place you go to.
For online businesses, customer service reps give customers the information they need about a product before or during purchase. This can involve answering questions or providing instructions. Seems easy and inconsequential, but it’s a very big thing for a customer.
Remember this: an interested customer asks questions. The more questions they ask, the more likely they will make a purchase. Properly educating a customer creates a good impression and pushes them closer to purchase.
Support: Handling a customer’s problem properly
A completed sale shouldn’t be assumed to be the last time a customer will interact with your store. There are many things that could happen between you sending the product and the customer receiving the product. Customers can receive damaged products, they might not know how to use it, they might receive the wrong product, or the product might not be what they were expecting. This is where customer service needs to be handled even more carefully.
It may sound like a cliché, but every interaction is an opportunity. Remember that customer support is not just about fixing the problem, it’s also about handling the problem properly.
You can give a refund bigger than what the customer paid for, but if you did not communicate well with your customer, they will still feel negatively towards your store.
Make your customers feel that you are listening, that you understand what the real problem is and that you are willing to fix the problem.
If you need more customer service tips, you can listen to our podcast with Vincent Phamvan, the Head of Growth at Simplr. Click here to listen.
Deliver customer satisfaction by constantly paying attention to your customers
There is one secret to customer satisfaction: paying attention. Ask for feedback, do diligent social listening and take the steps to solve the issues your customers tell you about.
When it comes to feedback, most dissatisfied customers will let you know what the problem is. But you should still ask them to be more specific about their problem. Let them know that you are listening, you understand where they are coming from and you value the feedback they gave. That signals right away that you are paying close attention.
Then, do some social listening for feedback that you didn’t directly ask for. Check customer comments and reviews on social media. This is where you’ll truly understand where they are coming from, as most social media comments are unfiltered and much more to the point.
Finally, use the information you just gathered to fix their problem. When carrying out the fix--such as issuing a replacement item for one that arrived damaged--aim to go above and beyond the simple fix. Many customers, even when they are presented with a solution, will not be completely satisfied because there are underlying concerns they want addressed. For example, the customer who received the broken product is likely hoping for reassurance that this won’t happen again. If you pay attention to these concerns while giving the solution, then the customer will be truly satisfied.
Maintain a close relationship with your customers
It’s easy to form relationships online. Just message “Hi!” to a stranger on Facebook or comment on someone’s Instagram post. Boom, you’ve made an acquaintance. But maintaining a close relationship, especially with your customers, requires consistency and communication.
Consistency: Publishing content regularly
Think of a really close friend. How often do you talk to them? You may both be busy and have less frequent communication than you’d like, but it’s still pretty regular, right? If you went months without any type of communication, it would be safe to say that you are no longer “close friends.”
But, just like with a close friend, you don’t have to be interacting with your customers 24/7. You just have to be regular--and you have to be there when they need you. Regularly publishing content such as newsletters, blog posts, video clips, podcasts or even just social media posts is already consistency. Round it out by being available to answer questions or address concerns, and you’re well on your way to feeling close with your customers.
Communication: Social media and chatbots
Close relationships require open communication. Multichannel and omnichannel support is definitely preferable, but in reality, both require massive resources to pull off. You’ll need software, training and manpower.
If you have the resources, we highly recommend you invest in multichannel or omnichannel support, because it ensures that you’ll be there whenever and wherever a customer wants to reach you. But if you don’t have the ability right now, just having a social media account that is responsive or automatic chatbots are a big step toward having open communication with your customers.
Be an advocate for your customers
Customer advocacy is easier said than done. There are no metrics or data to quantify how much of an advocate you are. That could mean that you can just claim how much you love your customers without actually doing anything for them, right? Maybe, but most consumers can smell fakeness from a mile away.
So how can you get started with real advocacy? It starts with your store’s branding and culture. Before advocating for your customers, advocate for something that you are passionate about. Don’t just make your brand about your products and services, but also highlight your story and what you stand for.
Most customers feed off of a brand’s passion, and it’s easier for customers to stand with you when they can see you championing advocacy through a strong mission.
People resonate with a sense of community, fueled by passion. They will eventually think, “I relate to this brand. We both believe in sustainability [or whatever cause/principle you champion]. They are so passionate about their beliefs that I trust they’ll do the right thing for their customers, too. ”
We talked about how to develop the best mindset for pulling off this type of advocacy in our recent podcast with Dale Bertrand, Founder and Managing Director of Fire&Spark. When asked what the best strategy for SEO is, he said, “Not all companies can do this--but the ‘Homerun Strategy’ for SEO is to lead a movement.”
If you want to listen to the full podcast and learn more about movement-driven SEO with Dale, click here.
Give all customers a great experience (using their bad experiences)
Great experiences aren’t always positive all along the way. In fact, sometimes, turning a bad experience around can be more powerful than a good experience from start to finish.
It’s easy to provide the best experiences to already happy and positive customers. But remember, the harshest critics tend to be the loudest. These are the ones that you need to provide great experiences to.
To transform bad experiences, remember two things: Collaborate first, then Accommodate.
Collaboration is about working with the customer to fix the problem. Involving the customer makes the problem-solving more interactive and gives a sense of control and goodwill to the customer. Get them involved by taking note of their feedback on your proposed solutions.
If collaboration doesn’t work, accommodate what they want. It might mean a loss for your store in the short-term, but it will definitely create a better experience for a customer than a compromise would. Go above and beyond for the customer (but within reason).
If you do these things, even if the customer had a terrible experience in the beginning, they will leave your store with a great experience, knowing that you went the extra mile to do what you could to help them.
Make your customers successful
Let’s say that a customer, Chase, purchased a product from your store but was unsatisfied. It seems that the product details did not set proper expectations for him, and the product he received was not what he thought he’d be getting. Chase then contacted your store via email, and you arranged a refund. You also replaced the product description in question and asked Chase for feedback on the new description.
He liked the changes on the product description, so you implemented it. Chase then received the refund and gave a lengthy positive review on your website detailing his experience with your store.
Though initially it was a bad experience for him, he still ended up with a successful interaction.
Now, let’s look more closely at all of the elements of great customer service that show up in this scenario:
You provided great customer service by collaborating with Chase and fixing all the issues that he experienced. (I.e. issuing a refund.)
You made sure Chase was satisfied by paying attention to what he needed. He didn’t just want a refund, he also needed his concern to be addressed, which was that your company didn’t accurately describe your products. So, you collaborated with him by inviting him to approve the new product description.
You effectively maintained a close relationship with Chase. That relationship could have ended with the dissatisfaction of the customer, but Chase instead will continue to support your brand because you handled the situation properly.
We could also say that it was a close relationship because you accepted the criticism from your customer and used his feedback to change the product description.
You advocated for the customer. You did what you could to make good to the customer even if it took a lot of effort on our end. Processing refunds and changing the product descriptions are basically financial losses. But you prioritized the customer instead of saving a little bit of money.
You gave a great overall experience to Chase. You successfully transformed a bad experience into a great one. It even prompted him to write a lengthy positive review.
- Lastly, the customer was successful in the end. They got their money back and they got the change that they liked on the product description.
Now, how does this scenario lead to your store’s success? Let’s look at what happened after the customer wrote the review...
Success in Shopify is synergistic
When you help one customer be successful, you earn more customers. First, site visitors will read the review of your successful customer and be inspired to buy your product. And on the other side, your successful customer might just be so impressed with your customer service that he will then share his experience with his friends and family.
In short, making your customers successful makes your store more successful in the long run:
Successful customers have a higher lifetime value than a newly acquired customer. You can get more value from them as they stick around for longer, and they will most likely be repeat buyers.
- Newly acquired customers are expensive investments. Successful customers acquire new customers for you. You don’t have to throw more money at customer acquisition.
Don’t fall for the flawed idea that you can have a product “so good, it basically markets itself.” Instead, bank on helping a customer become so successful, they market your products for you.
Remember the marketing flywheel concept? Successful customers are at the edge of your flywheel. The more your successful customers are, the more gravity they push on your flywheel and the more force your flywheel spins. It’s a good cycle that benefits both you and your customers. More successful customers will only bring more success to your store.