Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.
As a business owner, you hear and think a lot about how to use your time. How to get more efficient, reduce losses and work smarter. But how often do you think about your customers’ time? If the answer is “not a lot” you could be in trouble. Not surprisingly, they don’t think their time is worth any less than yours. If you want to keep your customers, you have to agree with that. You need to start implementing the strategies that prioritize their time, not just yours.
Put worth first: Let’s do this in chronological order. We’ll start with when your customer comes in contact with your marketing. Nowadays, obtuse marketing is all the rage with perfumes and fashion. But that doesn’t mean you should be adopting that method. If you want your customers to fall in love with you, you need to be direct. Tell them exactly what your business is going to do for their lives. Don’t just tell them what your product or services are. Focus on what it’s worth to them. Will it make them healthier, happier or richer? Go with that, first.
Don’t make your site a maze: After successful marketing, your potential customers are going to want to check out your business. The first place that most people will go to do that is the website. If yours turns out to be a maze to navigate, you’ll lose them almost immediately. Make sure that your front page is simple, with most links leading directly to what you offer. If you’re using online advertising, then you can be even smarter with it. For instance, use landing pages. That way, when you advertise product A, they click a link and get taken straight to a page for product A. They’re not stuck navigating between products A to Z. Shorten your customer’s journey to what they want from you as much as you can.
Reduce the effort needed for them to become a customer: The exact same goes for how you design an e-commerce site. After they’ve filled up their basket, you have a certain amount of clicks that any one person is willing to go through. After they’ve decided they’ve had enough, they might think it’s not worth the effort. Or they might change their mind on a purchase. This is called shopping cart abandonment. Essentially, the more you can reduce the steps between filling an online shopping cart and finishing an order, the better. Using breadcrumb navigation to show them their progress in their order is a better way to fight shopping cart abandonment, too. If the end is in sight, they’re more likely to keep heading for it.
Offer on-site support: Customer support is crucial in how you use their time. If your business is online, then you should most definitely be able to provide support on your site. How you do it depends on what your business offers. For software and enthusiast products, use your customers. Set up an FAQ page or even a support community. There, people can ask questions and qualified staff can respond. Customers who have the same inquiry can drop by and check out the answer without having to interact with anyone. You also have the option of using on-site chat options. This way, you can immediately begin providing assistance to anyone as soon as they start experiencing a problem. Just make sure you’re only using on-site chat if you can afford the manpower to answer within minutes. People won’t keep a chat box open for an hour.
Make sure they get to who they need: Don’t assume that online support is all you need. At the end of the day, people will need someone to talk to. This is where a lot of businesses famously fail. They keep customers waiting while they play ‘pass the phone’. If you have different departments, then you better have an office telephone system that accounts for all of them. The sooner you can redirect callers to where they need to go, the better your customer’s experience. Of course, on the phone, it’s important to recognize that you don’t want to be too pushy. When talking voice-to-voice, people expect a bit of time to be taken on them.
Remember them: Remembering a customer when you talk to them, even for the first time, shows that a company cares. It’s a little bit of service that most people will appreciate. It will also help you get to the heart of any problem or question a lot sooner. You don’t want to be the third person to tell a customer advice that they’ve already heard. Instead, you want to pick up the conversation from where it left off. Customer relationship management is about storing all the information on your customers you can. It not only helps with more prompt service. It also gives you material to work with for future business expansions and marketing strategies.
Don’t make deliveries a cause for complaint: A business and its promises are important. If you tell someone that they’re getting their product within a week, they better get it then. Sometimes problems happen, but you can’t pass them onto the customer. Make sure that you know your supply chain inside and out. If there problems up the chain, you need to be notified of it as soon as it happens. You also need to have a backup supplier in the pipeline. Similarly, you should make sure your delivery systems are as efficient as they can be. For example, if you use your own drivers, then measure their performance. Make it quantifiable by using GPS devices and see who is performing to standard.
Make it easier to use your site and become a customer. Be upfront in what you can do for them. Reduce the amount of time it takes to give them the service they need by knowing what they need in advance. These are the steps that are going to make it easier to use your customer’s’ time wisely and keep them in love with your business.