More and more commerce is transitioning to online experiences. This makes sense; more people use the internet than ever before and more than half of customers buy something online monthly. Making sure that a company’s online presence and customer experience is as good as possible will help a company increase profits and support new customers.
And yet, many businesses continue to make mistakes that damage the customer experience and lose customers. Here are a few of the mistakes you might be making that damage your customer relationships – and how to fix them.
No email or chat support options
The millennials demographic is really coming into its own in terms of buying power. The media often continues to talk about millennials as if they were all teenagers, but the oldest millennials are now in their mid to late 30s. And, as a group, millennials hate talking on the phone.
There are many different reasons for this, but the most important thing for businesses to remember is simply that they will do virtually anything to avoid making a phone call. When they need to get support for a product or return, email is viable, but many prefer a chat, and hopefully with a real person. Chat bots, of course, are great to handle simple questions like “What are your hours,” but when it comes to handling returns, a person will be more helpful.
If you don’t have alternative methods of communication than phones, you may be losing out on a big chunk of your business. At the bare minimum, have a contact form on your website that leads into an email.
Sign and send instead of digital signatures
In this day and age, there is absolutely no reason to ever require someone to print out a form, sign it manually, and then send it back. First of all, younger people don’t really use printers anymore; there’s generally not a need. So the simple process of printing something off to sign it is complex. The alternative is to wait for a company to mail something to you, then sign it, and then send it back – even more cumbersome, even if there’s a postage paid envelope included.
The simplest solution is to allow for digital signatures. In general, digital signatures are legally valid and easier to use, allows both parties to get a copy of the document with all signatures attached, and does not generally cost the signer anything. It’s also simpler for the sender; no paper to track or store.
Lack of basic online information
When a customer goes to your social media profiles, your website, or any other information site that you control, they should be able to easily view your hours of operation, your physical address if you have one, your return policies, your shipping policies, and how to get in touch with them.
On social media, that can be as simple as links to your websites – but you have to have this information easily available. Otherwise, you’ll lose customers simply because they can’t find out what they need.
And, as a side note, nothing chases customers away faster than a poorly designed website. That simple, minimalistic design that looks so slick can actually be impenetrable to the customer who’s just trying to find some basic information. Using popups, even to collect emails, is incredibly annoying to customers, especially on mobile.
Rigid adherence to policy when flexibility would help more
Another way that companies harm the customer experience is when they expect their sales reps and customer service team to adhere to rigid policies without any exceptions. It’s overstating things to say that the customer is always right, but in extreme situations, representatives should have a certain level of freedom to do what is need to be done to keep the customer – especially when they’re talking to a customer with a significant history with the company. After all, it’s significantly more expensive to find a new customer than it is to retain one with whom you already have a relationship.
There will always be some lines you can’t cross, no matter how long of a history you have with the customer, but reps should feel empowered to do what they can, when they can.
As a business, improving the customer experience is always an important goal. But for some companies, the first goal is simply to get to the baseline of providing a positive customer experience. When companies end up making purchasing or subscribing too hard for customers, they’ll simply go with the competition. If you can offer an exceptional customer experience, however, you’ll gain a great deal of customer loyalty – the kind that drives word of mouth and positive reviews on social media and in person.
Companies should conduct a thorough survey of the customer experience from the customer perspective, see what’s working well, and then decide where they can improve.