We all know what it feels like to have a top customer service experience: when you leave the store with a smile on your face, knowing that you’ve found just what you were looking for, had all of your questions answered, and feel confident that - if anything goes wrong - you know just who to call (hint: it’s not the ghostbusters ;) ).
Sales representatives, brands and customer service centres, in general, either get it right or very, very wrong. I once saw the following request to customers on the wall of my friendly, neighbourhood pizza takeaway and it stayed with me: “If you have a bad experience, please tell us. If you have a good experience, please tell everyone.” Generally, when we have a good experience, we don’t shout it from the rooftops, but if we have a bad experience, we tell everyone we see, post it on social media and in our family Whatsapp chat.
There’s science behind this, our brains are wired to focus more on the negative than the positive. It’s also easier to complain on social media than to address the business directly, because we feel more anonymous and less likely to encounter conflict. However, this doesn’t help you (the business) to make improvements. It also means that we have to work a bit harder to encourage our happy customers to shout good things from the rooftops!
Anywayyyyyy, we’re not here just to talk about reviews, we’re here to help you make the most of your customer service and improve your sales experience for your customers. Because getting this part right could be the difference between making a sale (or a repeat sale) and not. Today’s consumers have a ton of options for shopping, both online and in real life. So, how do you try to differentiate yourself and ensure that your customers are both a) satisfied, pleased and happy to review you, and b) return to shop with you again? Customer service is one of the great differentiators.
As South Africans, we’re used to a very personalised customer service experience: our petrol attendants pump petrol, the assistant at the pharmacy is both helpful and knowledgeable, and our tech guru is always available on Whatsapp. The question is how to translate that into an online sales experience for a discerning South African consumer? Simple. We take real-life lessons of customer service and apply them to our online store.
In this article:
- What is customer service?
- The customer experience - tips for improving customer sales experience
What is customer service?
Simply put, customer service is the provision of a service to customers before, during and after a purchase/sale. One of the keys to success is learning to think about the customer’s needs before, during and after their purchase and how to best meet those needs.
Tip: Interested in what makes a customer happy, satisfied or dissatisfied? Check out this interesting survey on customer satisfaction behaviour.
The Customer Experience - Tips for improving the customer sales experience
An online store sells products or services. It’s an exchange of resources (money) for either a product or a service. Everyone is happy, right? That may be what your customers expect but we’re aiming to offer an excellent sales experience. We’re aiming to ensure that they return to shop again, right? Here are some tips for improving (and exceeding) your customer experience:
- Ease of purchase: easy-to-use online store, quick and efficient checkout and ease of payment
- Manage expectations: provide products that fit their needs, help them achieve a goal or solve a problem (i.e. don’t trick them with a product that does none of those). Just don’t.
- Prompt communication: set up autoresponders for enquiries if you can’t attend to them immediately, communicate promptly to enquiries, complaints or refund queries.
- Delivery communication and efficiency: this can be automated too, however be sure to track your deliveries and communicate with customers if there is an expected delay.
- Ask for feedback: invite customers to review your products and respond to those reviews. Here are some tips for handling negative reviews professionally.
- After-sales care: take care of your customer before, during and after their purchase. This means that you have a policy for guarantees, exchanges and refunds, and that you stick to it.
Here’s the stumbling block for a lot of online stores and entrepreneurs: customers have expectations. If we meet their expectations - they are satisfied, if we do not meet their expectations, they are dissatisfied (to say the least!) and, if we exceed their expectations, wowwweeeee, then they’re thrilled! And that’s what we like to aim for: exceeding expectations!
As an entrepreneur or small business, you have lots of potential to really shine in the customer service arena and exceed expectations, so build loyalty and trust from the beginning, communicate well with your customers, and offer a little extra kindness and empathy whenever you can. It can’t hurt and it will most definitely make you a memorable business that customers want to return to.
How are you keeping track of your customer’s sales experience? Would you consider sending them a survey? Do you keep track of reviews on Facebook and Google? Do you have autoresponders set up for Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp Business? There are a number of great tools for keeping track of your customer leads and sales funnel. Hubspot is a fantastic tool to try out for this. Let us know what you think.
As always, yours in sales