3 Ways To Make The Online Customer Journey Easier (And Build Fans For Life)

If you are an online retailer then you are in the relationship business. One mistake many online retailers make is to view their customers as abstract numbers on a chart.  There are millions of people shopping online, right? Finding new ones is easy, right? Wrong. According to the Harvard Business Review acquiring a new customer is anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive than having a return customer back and make a purchase.  So there is tremendous incentive to keep your customers for coming back.  That’s why it’s so important to remove impediment and make the customer journey easier. Below are three ways to help in achieving this.

Talk To Your Customers And Act On Their Feedback

Quantitative data is great. Understanding the customer journey is important, and optimizing each step is crucial.  But sometimes you need to complement this with qualitative data, even if its anecdotal. And the best way to do this is to chat with your customers, either on the phone or in real time using an instant chat service.  Take the time to listen and you’ll be surprised what you learn. Moreover, the payoff from their loyalty will be worth the effort.

“All of our businesses are rooted in the notion of personal customer service,” says Peter Hyman, who heads up creative direction and business affairs for an e-commerce incubator called Moonshot Ventures. “We like to get on the phone with people and hear what they have to say. It may take more time and effort, but you create a lot of good will this way.” Moonshot Ventures operates specialized retail sites like SmokeSmith Gear, a luxury online smoke shop which sells bongs, vapes and grinders. There is a lot of breakage in that business, and Hyman believes that taking the time to personally investigate every claim wins the day for him. “If something breaks we get on the phone and ensure that the customer knows it will be replaced immediately. People appreciate the human interaction of a phone call. And correcting a misstep presents a great opportunity to reach out to a customer and ask them other questions.”  And make sure you record this feedback and then turn it into action by acting on it.

Create A Navigation Flow That Is Intuitive And Make Checking Out Dead Simple
User experience (UX) and user interface (UI) may be terms that make your eyes glaze over. But while these disciplines are the domain of developers and site designers it is crucial for you as a business owner to take an active role in this.  The people building your site will never know your customers or your products as well as you do, and you need to ensure that it’s as easy as possible for your customers to find what they are looking for (with as few clicks as possible). Before you even begin building your site develop the navigation flow by considering the categories of products you sell and how this should be organized.  If your store sells items for men, women and kids, then those may be three distinct collections and each needs its own navigational point of entry.

Having your customers find the items they want is only one of the tasks you will face.  Once the item is added to their cart you need to ensure they complete the transaction. Cart abandonment rates for online retailers is close to 77 percent. That means that 3 out of every 4 of the people who add items to their cart on your store will leave them and not return.  And while you cannot control every aspect of why a person decides not to purchase, you can make it simple for customers to check.  NEVER require people to sign up with an email in order to check out (you can make this an option but not a requirement). Offer autofill on your forms. And make sure the steps to check out are as minimized as possible. Whenever possible present all the costs up front.  One reason people abandon is because they see shipping, taxes and other added costs tallied only once they are about to add their credit card.

Make Your Contact Information And Policies Visible
All too often online business make little effort when it comes to making their policies and their contact information easy to find.  Sometimes this is deliberate—some business simply do not want to hear from their customers and want them to figure out the answers themselves.  Other times it’s the result of negligence as retailers tend to focus more on their products they do these types of housekeeping pages. Whatever the cause, it leads customers to leave the site.  According to some sources you have 59 seconds to capture a customer’s attention before the leave (or “bounce”).  

One way to keep them there is to make it very easy for them to contact you if they have questions or concerns.  Have your phone number and an email form persistent and visible (placed near the top of the page). Offer instant chat during business hours.  And make it clear that all correspondence will be returned within a set time frame. Make your customers have to work too hard to connect with you and then will just leave your site and not come back.  Another way you can do this is by turning mundane policy pages into exciting, customer-centric advertisements. Do you offer free shipping and hassle free returns? Is your site PCI compliant? The answer to both is probably yes, because most sites do this these days.  But you can market the fact that your offer great customer service by creating a page that outlines all of this or even communicating it with icons your home page.