Chances are, you've had a bad customer service experience at least once in your life.
Everyone has had that moment when they storm out of a store resolving never to return. There are probably tens of thousands of customers doing so this very minute. The thing is, it also happens online, and it’s one of the top impediments to online customer retention.
Wait a second, you might say. Unlike regular shoppers, online consumers can browse the selections of multiple stores in a heartbeat, and will shop at whatever store has the lowest price. What’s the point of worrying about online customer retention and improving customer loyalty?
In fact, while online shoppers are more fickle about price and discounts, they are no less loyal. Over 70% of online shoppers belong to a loyalty or frequent buyer program, and over 50% of online shoppers are somewhat loyal to at least one online brand. So brand loyalty does matter online, and trying to improve customer loyalty is a significant way to generate sales.
So how do you go about improving customer loyalty?
Fortunately, learning how to keep customers loyal is simple for online businesses. Make sure they have a good time dealing with your online store.
A study by Forbes found that over 70% of all consumers who stopped a shopping at a store did so because of a bad customer service experience.
Though there are more dimensions to this in online retail, it still applies.
Here are 3 ways to improve customer retention:
Use Discounts and Loyalty Programs:
The customer service aspect of online customer retention is important to keep them shopping at your store, but so is another aspect of online retail: discounts. Unlike traditional retail, online shoppers have an almost unlimited number of alternatives to your store, so it's essential to keep them coming back. One of the best ways to improve customer retention is through frequent buyer and online customer loyalty programs, as research has shown most online shoppers respond well to them. In other words, send discounts and promotions to loyal customers so they look to you first.
Engage with your Customers:
Online retail requires engagement. Customers want to talk to you more than ever, and online stores don't have a friendly clerk to help fulfill that essential social need of the shopping process. One way of improving customer loyalty is by making sure that your customers can reach you through other ways. This can be through e-mails, forums, or social media. Traditional stores and restaurants are often judged based on how friendly the employees are: this is no different for online shopping. Be friendly and make a connection through your various social media channels. Ask their opinion. Thank them for their business. All of this is essential to ensuring they shop at your online store again. In the event of any problems, make sure to respond promptly to let them know they are not being ignored.
Increase your Speed of Delivery:
Another aspect of customer service that is often overlooked is speed of delivery. This aspect of shopping doesn't exist in traditional brick and mortar, but to give someone gratification of purchase is essential in making sure they have are satisfied at the end of their shopping experience. That means 2-3 day ground delivery in most cases, as the expectations of customers have risen drastically in the last few years. If you can't get your shipments to your customers in that time frame, consider outsourcing your fulfillment or hiring specialists.
Of course, the single best way to maximize online customer retention is to treat them like you would like to be treated, and there is no substitute for that. But if you follow these 3 steps, you will be that much closer to ensuring your customers come back again and again.
Has improving customer loyalty been valuable to your online business?