eCommerce as a whole has cracked most traditional industries wide open, stimulating the birth of a new business model that requires more automation, tracking and optimization, and less human interaction.
For the most part, this is great in that it takes a whole lot of staff hiring, training and management issues out of the picture. But what are the downsides of less people and how do they affect a customer’s relationship to a brand?
In this post, we’ll explore these questions to show e-tailers how to bring a more human feel to their eCommerce stores.
Why Customers Can’t Be Left To Their Own Devices
According to a survey conducted by social media shopping company IMShopping and Harris Interactive, more than half of consumers polled claim that their decision not to make a purchase was sometimes a result of not being able to get assistance from a real live human being.
Many times customers are not getting the answers they need from an eCommerce site’s FAQ section or customer forums. When they don’t get the answer to their question right away, they are more likely to turn elsewhere. In countless instances customers just need a little reassurance that they’re making the right buying decision, especially with expensive items like home electronics or furniture.
From the same survey, 93% of those polled who had made an online purchase said they had a question about a purchase, yet less than half actually had their questions answered on the eCommerce websites they were shopping on.
These are risks retailers simply cannot afford to take. Putting human contact back into the equation is critical. No level of automation can ever take the place of the human element.
So What Does It Take To Make Your Store More People-Friendly?
In reality, there are dozens of ways in which online retailers can add the element of human touch to their customers’ online shopping experience. But here are few of the most effective and easiest to implement.
Add a conversational tone to your emails – If you’ve got a mailing list that includes your best customers (and you should), make sure that your tone is always conversational. Don’t explain any of your upcoming sales or exclusive products in an essay format, which will do nothing more than bore the reader and entice them to ‘x’ out of the email message. Instead, ‘speak’ to them using language they understand and can relate to. There’s nothing wrong with using gifs, funny pictures and even cat videos if they support a genuine message you’re trying to communicate.
Make your customers feel appreciated – Go the extra mile to show your customers how much you appreciate them by sending them handwritten letters of thanks, or sending them physical gifts cards on their birthdays. Little acts like these can go a long way and can build the invaluable customer loyalty every business needs to succeed.
Put a face to your live chat feature – Having a live chat feature on your site is a fantastic way to help give your customers the answers they might have right away. And adding a real face to the person behind the computer gives that added personal feel that can make the customer feel more welcome. Keep your support team avaliable 24/7 and even outsource support to make sure your customers can get always the answers they need when they need them.
Get your customers involved in your business – New customers will appreciate knowing that other regular customers have had positive experiences with your business. Not only that, but the tips and pieces of info that your loyal customers leave on your site can potentially give your new customers the answers they’re looking for. Instead of asking their customers for reviews and feedback, Buy Me Brunch encourage their customers to upload a pic of themselves in their BMB gear to Twitter and Instagram and tag it to get their pictures shared automatically on the Buy Me Brunch website.
Get people talking about your store – The most powerful form of marketing has always been word-of-mouth. People will always take another person’s word over a billboard or TV ad when it comes to products. That’s why it’s so important to get your customers talking. This can be done in any number of ways but for the most part it’s about being exceptional. Offer your customers a brand or purchasing experience that they could never expect and you can be sure they’ll tell their friends about it. Exclusive events or deals that no-one outside of your very best customers can get, will often work wonders.
Setting up a tiered loyalty program to identify and reward your best customers can add a high-touch feel to any low-touch eCommerce environment. These sorts of programs have been known to stimulate emotional buying to add an element of gamification to purchasing.
This article originally appeared on The Loyalty Box blog and has been republished with permission.