Make your customers feel special and you’ll be special to them!
What’s the 2021 buzzword in business? It’s ‘online sales’ probably. In the UK, online sales shot up by 36.6% in 2020 – the highest jump since 2007. As more businesses turn to digital and online, these numbers are only going to go higher.
But here’s a fact – everyone’s shopping online, because they don’t have a choice thanks to the pandemic.
Even though online shopping has its pluses – the ease of buying from home and a wider variety to choose from, customers do miss the brick and mortar in-store experience. A study shows that 74% of customers visiting physical stores to make purchases!
So how can Shopify stores make up for the missing physical touch. Well, let us tell you.
Ways to make your Shopify store customers feel special
1. Be there for your customers with a live chat
Imagine this: a visitor comes to your Shopify store, likes a product, but wants more information. The only option to contact your support team is through email or to drop you a message on social media; either of them taking them away from your Shopify store.
Today, with plenty of options and alternatives on the internet, this customer’s not going to wait for you to respond on any channel. They’ll simply choose another store to buy from.
But you can stop these visitors from leaving your Shopify store with something more ‘instant’ like live chat. Pop up when customers are browsing products. Ask them if you can help them. Respond to their queries in real-time.
53% of customers abandon online purchases if they don’t find proper information and 73% prefer brands that value their time through prompt customer service (Forrester research). Live chat takes care of both these factors. Besides, it’s an easy way to offer a humanized experience, just like in-store interactions and conversations.
Pro tip: Ensure authentic, conversational responses and avoid responses that sound automated and machine-like.
2. Make it easy to shop with customer account pages
Customers prefer to shop online as it has multiple benefits – it saves time and is cheaper than traveling to physical stores; it makes shopping easier from the convenience of one’s home, and one can compare multiple products to find the best without moving from one door to another.
But online stores have to put in efforts to make customers’ shopping journey easier. Similar to how when one enters a physical store and is able to move around, picking up stuff they like, moving to the billing counter one step at a time, being able to cash in their loyalty points or ask for reference to previous orders, if they have purchased before from the brand.
One key factor to give special attention to, to do this, is the customer account page. Quite often, brands stress so much over perfecting their homepage and product pages, that the customer account page gets overlooked.
A comprehensive customer account page helps in many ways:
- Holds all customer information
- Keep track of previously placed orders
- Displays recently viewed products
- Lets the customer create wishlists
- Makes reorders easy and fast
- Keeps track of store credits (loyalty program)
- Enables easy management of returns and refunds
Yes, pretty much like Amazon does it for and the very reason why you keep going back to them. With the Flits customer account page app, you can easily set up these comprehensive customer account pages on your Shopify store.
3. Make personalized product recommendations
A recent study shows that 80% of customers are more likely to buy from a company that offers personalized experience. Sharing recommendations based on customers’ browsing and purchase behavior is one of the most lucrative personalization tactics.
“You might also like”, “Customers also bought”, or “Most purchased items”, are some ways in which you can display personalized recommendations to bring about a more human touch. Remember how in-store salespersons approach customers to help them make purchase decisions.
When it comes to online stores, you can do more. Reach out to customers after they leave your store – send them personalized recommendations via email, web push notifications, and Facebook Messenger or even display “Recently viewed items” in their customer account page. It’s an opportunity to influence 92% of customers and get them to value you and buy from you.
4. Show gratitude to your customers with thank you notes
There’s something called Gratitude Deficit Disorder – the feeling of being undervalued and under-appreciated. Consumers feel it too. 68% of customers leave brands because they think brands don’t care about them.
The solution – eCommerce thank you notes.
You can make your customers feel special and deepen your bond with them by saying ‘Thank you’ every time they make a purchase. Moreover, you can personalize your thank you messages by using online services that help you write handwritten notes to your customers that can delivered both online as well as in your product packaging.
Some pro tips:
- Bring the human aspect when thanking your customers by making your message personal and purposeful
- Simply thank them; don’t ask them for anything in return with your message
- Build a repeatable process of expressing gratitude across all communication touch points
5. Create clear return, exchange and refund policies
68% of customers check the exchange policy before making a purchase. That’s why it’s important to let your customers know that they can exchange the product with ease if they need to.
The same applies to returns and refunds. Mentioning these policies clearly also instills confidence in the customers that they won’t have to chase your customer service team in case they need to initiate any of these.
Here’s what you should do:
- Include the exchange, return and refund policy within the customer account page. This will make it easy for the customers to first notice/find it and second know where they will find all the information
- Make it detailed with extra tabs. The policies should have all the details – against what can the product be exchanged, extra costs, number of days within which the item can be exchanged, returned and refunded, the condition of the item, and the process of initiating, among others
- Automate the processes. It might not be practical to manage exchanges, returns and refunds manually and hence you will need a smart tool to automate the process. Make sure the tool is integrated with your other processes so that all the teams involved are aware of the tasks
6. Ask for feedback on every purchase
While brick and mortar stores have the option of interacting with customers face to face, this is completely lacking in eCommerce stores. Hence, eCommerce stores have to constantly seek customer feedback. It’s a good way to bring in a human touch. eCommerce giants Amazon, eBay never miss a chance to ask for feedback.
Pro tip: Ask feedback on every purchase made with specific questions.
Eg., “Rate your satisfaction level of our store.” or “Would you continue shopping in our store?” or “Rate the probability of you recommending our product to your friends”.
Three ways you can benefit from collecting customer feedback:
- You can get a peek into what your customers really think and feel about your brand and products. It will make them feel special because they know you care about their experience and connection to your brand.
- Moreover, seeking feedback is an opportunity to offer to customers what they need. Studies show that 13% of unhappy customers will share their experience with 15 or more people. Imagine what this can do to your brand. You could address every negative feedback promptly, and turn that unpleasant experience into one that’s profitable by solving the customers’ issues.
- By collecting customer feedback, you can identify the good things that are working and push those features to more customers.
7. Embrace and display user-generated content
User-generated content is not a new concept, but it works wonders. The premise is simple – you share content created by your customers – a photograph or a video of the customer with the product they purchased from you.
The result: your customers feel extra special for just being acknowledged.
Encouraging user-generated content has many benefits:
- When you share your customers’ photos, they feel happy
- It helps build a connection with your customers
- You can tap into your customers’ creativity for your platforms – website and social media
- It helps you boost reach as customers will also share that on their social platforms
- It builds social proof, credibility and authenticity
PS. Ads based on user-generated content have four times high click-through rates. And user-generated content on social media garners 20% more engagement.
8. Enable curbside or in-store pick-up
46% of customers opted for curbside and in-store pick-up since the pandemic. And the numbers are increasing. The preference for these two pick-up methods is growing. The method is simple – customers order online and pick up items themselves from the store or a location close by.
There are many benefits to this, not just to the eCommerce brand, but to the customers as well. Here are some of its key plus points:
- This pick-up method is faster than home delivery because the customers pick up their purchased items and do not have to depend on home delivery.
- These methods ensure that customers never miss a delivery. Customers can schedule pick-up according to their convenience and availability.
- It improves customer experience as it is convenient for busy customers to schedule their own pickups. Moreover, it saves time. These factors reduce stress levels and lead to higher levels of customer experience.
- It saves shipping costs and time. Brands do not have to add shipping cost to the product, which means customers save money. They also save time because professional shipping and deliveries can be a longer process compared to driving down and picking up the item.
So, how can you have this self pick-up experience better for customers? Allow customers to choose a pick-up location and time convenient to them. Provide all the necessary details clearly so that it’s easier for customers to make the pick up. Eg, address, location, landmark, the contact number of the person in charge, etc.
There are Shopify apps available to help you set this all up.
9. Leverage social media to ‘engage’
Social media is one of the best channels to engage your customer-base. Not just to build brand awareness and promote new products, it’s also effective in building communities of customers and keeping them engaged.
Here are some ways you can leverage social media to make your customers feel special:
- Host live sessions to create opportunities to interact with your customers. As online stores do not provide opportunities to engage with customers face to face, live sessions on social media are one of the best ways to meet your customers.
- Live selling is the next big thing on social media. Wondering what it is? It’s when viewers can buy from live online sales from the social media platforms. Eg., they can buy directly from Facebook or Instagram without having to leave these platforms.
- Build communities of customers. Brands make customers feel special by building communities and adding value to their experiences. These online communities become spaces for customers to meet and discuss topics with other customers as well as the brand.
Eg. Lego created a community Lego Ideas for its customers. Here, lego enthusiasts share their lego creations and ideas with each other, get to showcase their creations and discuss all things Lego.
10. Offer as many payment methods to make purchases easy
Today, with so many payment methods available, customers might prefer different modes. As a brand, you don’t want to lose customers only because you don’t support a method of payment they prefer.
Offer all popular payment methods – credit card, wire transfer, Apple Pay, cash on delivery (COD), and part payments, among others. Online stores also allow customers the comfort to buy now and pay later in installments. Some brands offer different types of part payment methods:
- Pay full amount now
- Pay part amount now
- Pay full amount later
Cash on delivery (COD) and pay full later might not be ideal as there’s a higher risk factor involved, but they are also ways in which you can grow customer trust and build loyalty and offer convenience which makes customers feel special. Once comfort levels are set, these features make customers stick to a brand for the long-term.
Customers also prefer subscription models and many eCommerce stores offer them. More than 50% of customers feel subscriptions are more convenient compared to other payment options, especially, when they buy products or services on a regular basis.
11. Offer different shipping methods to address needs
Shipping impacts customer experience. Many eCommerce brands ignore this factor. While many online stores take a simple approach to shipping strategies, one of the best practices for eCommerce stores is to offer many different shipping methods.
You can let customers choose the shipping method they prefer. Eg., 1 day, 2 days, 7 days, 14 days, same day, etc. You should clearly mention the shipping duration along with each product. This brings clarity and any surprises from the customer’s experience.
Did you know 81% of customers make purchase decisions based on free shipping. This is another key factor that should be clearly mentioned in your product pages.
If brands can, they must offer free shipping for all products by pricing their products accordingly. Or they could offer free shipping for orders above a specific value.
Does shipping matter so much? You’d be surprised. 66% of customers will leave you at the drop of a hat if another brand is offering flexible shipping options on the same product.
12. Create a community around your brand
In the absence of physical connections and interactions, how can brands make customers feel closer to them?
Human beings are social animals. We seek to be a part of communities and groups that share the same ideas and interests. This brings a sense of inclusion and more confidence. This psychological factor is the basic premise of communities created by eCommerce brands.
It makes customers feel closer to the brand as well as gives them an opportunity to engage with other like minded customers. Moreover, it’s a good strategy to increase Shopify customer retention rate. Some cues for building communities for your eCommerce brand:
- Host events, invite customers and community members
- Make the events about learning new things as well as interactions
- Cultivate relationships with customers and community members through interactions
Example: Lululemon, an athleisure brand has built a community around empowering their customers and community members to lead a healthy lifestyle.
13. Leverage technology to offer immersive shopping experiences
When customers go to physical stores, there’s a lot to engulf them – right from a proactive salesperson to being surrounded by products they can touch and feel. But how can you offer an immersive experience to your customers online? By leveraging technology – think virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and video.
By using technology, brands can personalize customers’ experience by allowing them to virtually try out clothes and accessories, take virtual walkthroughs of stores and locations, etc.
Pro tip: It’s worth investing in these technologies if you sell high-value products or see big sales coming in online; otherwise it can be a huge cost to you and drain your resources.
Some examples: Dulux Paint shows customers how different shades of wall paint look on customers’ walls. Sephora lets shoppers upload selfies and try products virtually. Amazon enables customers to visualize furniture in their own home.
14. Make it easy for customers to track orders
We’re living in uncertain times. Consumers have frozen buying decisions. Those who are buying are anxious about their orders. Will the delivery happen? Will they receive the order in time? What if they don’t like their purchase; will they be able to exchange it?
To ease customers’ anxiety and doubts, it’s essential to allow them to track their orders. You can do so by having a separate order-tracking page on your website or within the customer account page.
Additionally, as a brand, you should be proactive and keep your customers updated via email, SMS, and other channels of communication. However minuscule it may seem, giving a seamless tracking option to your customers can improve your customers’ experience and lead to customer retention and loyalty.
Want to make your customers feel special?
Just as you miss meeting your customers and understanding them, they do too.
As a brand, it always helps to put yourself in your customers shoes. In the absence of face-to-face contact, delayed orders and deliveries due to lockdowns across state borders and countries, brands not only have to focus on selling, but also on ensuring their customers feel special and cared for.
What’s the one strategy you use to make your customers feel special?