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Capturing custom is the lifeblood of all online retailers. But once that initial contact is made, how can you ensure that customers keep coming back? The benefits are crystal clear and here, Johnny Dawson explains how online retailers can encourage one off visitors to become life-long customers.

Rewarding and using customer loyalty

In the battle to encourage repeat custom, thanking clients with tangible rewards offers a real reason to return. The nature of these incentives is of course business dependent, but options include gift codes, discounts, free gifts or vouchers. Forward thinking companies are taking the idea of customer loyalty even further by offering incentives to clients who recommend a website to others. Social media is a priceless tool here   rewarding customers who share their purchases with followers and friends not only recognises loyalty, but creates free marketing opportunities too.

Creating a smooth service from purchase to delivery

Although online shoppers are well aware that delivery can cost, issues with pricing and convenience are chief amongst customer service complaints. Specific issues are late arrivals, inability to determine times and weekday only delivery. The problem primarily arises from a lack of flexibility in delivery options   in fact, many people feel forced to take time off work to receive an online delivery. Flying in the face of internet shopping’s supposed convenience, offering a limited range of delivery choices can greatly reduce chances of repeat custom. Understandably, many online companies find the strategic expertise needed to satisfy customers’ delivery needs too much to handle and in this case outsourcing is advisable. Delegating your order fulfilment needs elsewhere is also beneficial in the event that your online business should grow as it will be able to accommodate any expansion with ease. Furthermore, outsourcing delivery requirements to companies such as Sku Logistics can leave you more time to focus on other aspects of loyalty, such as quality customer service.

Clear channels of communication

Another potential pitfall of online shopping is its supposed impersonal tone. For shoppers who are experiencing difficulties with their order, not being able to contact someone about their problem only exacerbates the issue. Moreover, customers are highly unlikely to return to a site where they perceive their queries to be unimportant. Once a clear channel of communication has been established, it is vital that any contact between you and your customers is personal without impropriety and professional without unfriendliness. Finally, providing your clients with as much information as possible regarding any orders placed is greatly appreciated. Giving tracking numbers and e-mail updates can make customers feel confident about shopping with your company now and in the future.

With the boom in online sales continuing, companies must match the rise in customers’ expectations regarding service. Whether guaranteeing order fulfilment or providing quality rewards, a high level of service is required and demanded in order to truly succeed online.

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