The Only Way To Build Customer Loyalty In E-Commerce

With all of the talk around Brexit in the last week, I got to thinking about the implications for the ecommerce world. Not only for the UK of course, but for the many businesses around the world. The pound sterling has fallen. Global stock markets have bounced. And there’s a general feeling of ‘now what ?‘ in the air.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. There is an opportunity to thrive in uncertain times. It’s just more important now than ever before that you are upping the throttle when it comes to keeping your customers happy. Because as we all know happiness leads to customer loyalty, which is the key driver for growth.

So what’s the way, the only way, to ensure you are able to come up trumps in the battle against uncertainty? Well, my friends, the answer is to make a commitment. A commitment that from this day forth that you put the customer first.

Ok but what exactly does that mean you may ask. Well, it means that you and your employees place your customers at the centre of everything that you do. Your daily routines, your new product designs and the way in which you recruit and train new team members.

If you are willing to make this commitment, then read on.

Here’s my take on what exactly a customer focused e-commerce business should be doing to build loyalty:

1.) Be Timely

It’s fair to say that e-commerce is becoming a more and more popular method of doing business. Indeed, that’s a bit of an understatement: with $56 billion being spent in the holidays of 2015.

But with 23% of people saying that they would cease ordering from that company altogether after a late delivery — it’s clear improvements can be made.

There will always be unexpected natural disasters and hold ups with suppliers, but generally speaking in the eyes of your customers, you are responsible for their goods turning up. That’s why it’s import to set a realistic expectation and work your butt off to exceed it!

And if there’s a hold up, even if it’s out of your control, make it up to your customer somehow. I’ll always remember buying a t-shirt from a vendor on Amazon. It had been 10 days since the estimated delivery time,at which point I asked for a refund which I received in full. It turns out, it was the fault of the courier but I received an email from the vendor saying even though I’d gotten my refund, they were going to send out another shirt free of charge. Taking responsibility of a situation can change the game completely!

2.) Give your employees autonomy

Whether it’s a help desk chat or a customer service line, employees on the front line have to deal with complaints day in day out. And you know what makes their jobs so much harder? When they’re unable to break away (even just a little) from the rule book of what and what not to say.

Prime example: Customers hate the phrase ‘it’s company policy that we can’t do xyz’.

Instead encourage your employees to be less rigid. Yes, rules are well intended but sometimes it’s important to focus on what you can do as opposed to what you can’t. A change of phrase can work wonders:

“I believe we can find a way to accommodate what you need. Let’s look into the possibilities.”

Phrases like this are much appealing and can calm down a situation drastically.

Theres plenty more examples I could use but you catch my drift. It’s about getting the best deal for the customer at the end of the day. And your front line employees are paramount in that happening. Encouraging them to think a bit more for themselves can resolve problems a lot more successfully.

3.) Provide an exceptional experience

I love shopping online. If there was some sort of olympics for my habit, I’m confident I’d be taking home a medal! But if I was forced to pick one flaw in shopping this way, it has to be that it’s missing the ‘touch and feel’ factor. However you can certainly make up for that in other ways. What you need to do is make shopping online as personalised possible. Make your customer feel like they are getting an experience that they can’t get elsewhere.

You might not have a store assistant on hand to offer their advice to a customer but you do have algorithms. Yes thats right, algorithms can be used to track what a customer has already purchased and make recommendations on future products as result. They are becoming more and more popular. In fact 56% of online shoppers are more likely to return to a site that offers product recommendations.

4.) Let customers know you care

Heard the phrase ‘Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning’? I think it’s something more companies should embrace. How you do this in reality, begins with feedback. Surveys can be used as great way to start a conversation with your customer. If they’ve expressed they are unhappy with something, don’t hide away and pretend it’s not happening.

Follow up with your customer and face the issue head on. As we discussed earlier, there’s many ways that you can make it up to them. And moreover, by showing that you genuinely care about a customers opinion, you’ll have gained some respect.

If a customer has a good idea for an enhancement to a product, that you can’t yet implement, be sure to thank them for the suggestion and keep them updated on when they can expect any changes. Interacting with your customers in a useful and regular basis is a sure bet when it comes to improving customer loyalty.

Final Thoughts

The world of e-commerce is a competitive one but what separates the success stories from the failures is the commitment to the customer. If you focus your efforts on customer happiness, you’ll have repeat business and a brand that people love.

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