You’ve heard us say, a number of times, that your website is as important as your brick-and-mortar shop. Why? Because in many cases, websites are replacing the brick-and-mortar shop. The homepage is your storefront. Your product pages are your product shelves. Your content pages are the brochures you would place around the shop. Your FAQ page and Contact Us page are your customer service representatives. Your shopping cart is well…your trolley.
Does all of this mean that you should be less concerned with customer service than you had been in the past? To the contrary, customer service is more important than ever. Why? Because your competitors will, for the most part, adopt the idea that people who want online service are not concerned with receiving customer service. Those brands will bypass providing any significant level of online customer service—to their detriment and to your benefit…if you take the advantage of the opportunity to fill that gap.
When your brand swoops in and provides not only a signature brand experience that meets your ideal clients’ needs, but serves it up with a generous dose of customer attention, you win.
A Customer-Centred Website
For many companies, the majority of their business is conducted online. Phone calls and personal interactions are few. If you’re one of those companies, it’s up to your website to be your brand’s customer service representative. That means anticipating your customers’ desires and putting the resources in place they’ll need.
Here are a few pointers regarding what to include:
- FAQs Page: If you’ve been working in your industry for a while, you’ve become familiar with commonly asked questions. Compile them. Answer them clearly and concisely, and include them on a comprehensive, easy-to-navigate FAQs page. Include a search bar for visitors’ convenience. And then, every time two people ask the same question, add it to the list to keep it up-to-date.
- Contact Page: When we ask online consumers what bothers them most about today’s websites, a common reply is, “Contact information that’s hard to find.” Here’s the thing: if you’re hiding your contact information because you really don’t want to deal with phone calls and emails—because your website is supposed to be making money whilst you sleep—well, then your website isn’t going to be making round-the-clock money for long. People still want real answers from real people. Make yourself available to your customers, or make yourself available for other gainful employment.
- Smart Content: Smart content is a technology that uses information it gathers about each user to tailor that user’s experience. By using geographical information, IP addresses and more, smart content technology can show a different version of your website to different sub-groups of your target audience. Each one will feel that the website has been custom-made, just for them. Now that’s customer service, web style.
- Live Chat: On the other side of the coin are the people who aren’t comfortable talking on the phone, or don’t want to wait for an email response. If this sounds like your target audience members, then I would suggest providing a live chat that is manned by team members who are knowledgeable about your brand, its products/services and procedures. One tip: Give your chat rep(s) the ability to turn Chat Now buttons on and off, or have them make themselves available during set times that are listed on the website. Advertising live chat without having someone available to answer will be counter-productive to your customer service efforts.
- Feedback Form: Feedback is the lifeblood of any brand that wishes to evolve and remain flexible in regard to market shifts and consumer trends. Don’t be afraid of negative feedback: it’s an opportunity to show your “fix it” skills and to gain a lifetime customer. Always thank respondents for their opinions. Use compliments to build up your brand’s strengths. Use criticism to make improvements or to eliminate/delegate brand weaknesses.
- Sponsor a Fan Forum: You want your customers to talk to each other (and to their friends and family) about your brand, right? Well, then why not provide the platform for doing that right there on your website. Start a community. Invite ideal clients to the party. Watch conversation for clues into their preferences, for hints of dissatisfaction…and incorporate what you learn into your branding and marketing strategies, as well as your website.
When you take the time to make your website customer-centric, your brand engagement, brand awareness, brand loyalty and more will reflect the positive effects. Customers will always be our best source of marketing, and when they feel satisfied, and impressed with the experience they’ve been provided, they will talk about it. Keep them happy, keep them talking…that’s the formula, online and off.
Interested in learning more about how you can nurture the business relationships that will result in advocacy for your brand? Sign up for an upcoming B.R.A.N.D. Building Bootcamp. There, you’ll experience a full day of advice from our branding experts, including the three strategies you’ll need to put your fast-growth business on the fast-track to success. Enrol here.