Saturday, July 31, 2010

How to Court the Elusive Customer

This morning, I watch a young bunny nibble on my garden plants an immediately rushed out the door to capture this elusive rabbit. Of course, I had no tools or plan on how I would capture this little guy, and it proved a lost cause. The bunny eluded me by jumping into a massive planting of Black Eyed Susan plants. As I walked back into the house, I wondered if this is how I treat customers at times. Am I courting those elusive customers, or am I scaring them to run to some other company to make their purchase? Do I have no plan on how to capture their sale?

We live in an era where technology and the Internet are changing all the rules in how we engage with our customers. In the midst of all these changes, how do we reach out and compel customers to do business with us? Every week I get a report on how many dollars are left in abandoned shopping carts. These are my elusive customers. How does a company court these elusive customers? Here is what I have found helps lure those customers back.

Listen, Don't Ask

• Whether a customer complaint is justified or not it is irrelevant; perception becomes the customer's reality. At this point, it’s all about listening. Often, customers just want you to hear their side of the story.

• Many dissatisfied customers won't take time to complain. It's simply not worth the time and effort and is easier to not take the risk of placing another order. It’s difficult to capture these sales because you have no idea what went awry.

Be Honest

• If you post that you will respond to an email request, do it! Customer surveys have shown that most customers send an email and don't receive a response for more than a day, and for many they never receive a response. For smaller companies with limited staff, it's not always possible to have immediate phone contact. However, if this is the case, make sure that you reply to customer emails and voice messages within 24 hours. A 1-3 hour response time is even better. Not everyone can man an 800 number 24/7, but with today's technology and devices it's easy to stay connected to your customer at any given time.

• Know that most customers ordering for the first time will be skeptical. Help them overcome that fear by offering the best product in your market. Show them why your product is the best. Best doesn’t always mean the lowest price. If your product is priced higher than the competition, show them why your product is better. Forego all the product hype, just lay out the facts and let your customer decide.

Help Me Spend Less $$ and Less Time

• Offer incentives on ways to save, coupons, discounts codes and free products to be included with an order. These are always a plus on the customer end and from my experience very appreciated.

• Understand that customers often spend way more time with self-service online web sites than they do with brick & mortar stores. This is where you need to make things easy. Simplify the shopping cart; make it easy for customer to find your store policies, note return policies up front.

• I like to believe that my customers take time to read all the fine print. Not true! Customers don't always have the time to make informed decisions. They have busy life’s and are usually ordering on the fly. They want their shopping cart experience and product descriptions to make the ordering process easy. Good pictures and accurate descriptions will go a long way in capturing a sale.

The ultimate goal should be a comfortable joining together of two friends that leave the customer satisfied and wanting to do repeat business with the company. A customer’s perception will always be influenced in a positive or negative way based on the customer's expectations. Were customer expectation met, exceeded or disappointed? This is what will determine a repeat customer or an elusive customer that escapes into the black-eyed susan plantings.

With the Internet age, customer service has become a rarity. It’s a tremendous competitive advantage for any company willing to understand and develop the tools necessary to unleash it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the advice.This will help us in our new business.