Business is built on communication. Whether it’s a manager talking to a supplier or a customer talking to support, it’s these conversations that keep things moving. In the days before eCommerce, communication was more direct. If you sold things, then someone would come to your store or call you on the phone.
Now, people buy over the Internet. These days it’s a rarity to actually meet a customer face to face, or even speak to them over the phone. Business exists predominantly in the digital realm, but even though the method of communication may have changed it still underpins everything.
The sales funnel is so focused on converting customers, that retaining them is almost an afterthought. In some businesses, 80% of revenue comes from returning customers. It is easier to sell to someone if you have already sold to them before. In building up their trust and solving their problem, they are already predisposed to buy again if they have already bought once.
So what can you do to make sure you retain customers?
Talk to them.
That doesn’t mean you have to pick up the phone, but it does mean that you have to leave lines of communication open.
Review to a Kill
Firstly, think about what processes you have in place after a customer has made a purchase? Amazon and eBay have different business models, but both of them follow up purchases with invitations to review. One asks for a review of products and the other one asks for a review of sellers, but they both engage the
One asks for a review of products and the other one asks for a review of sellers, but they both engage the customer. They make the customer feel like a useful resource who is helping others solve a problem by finding good, or avoiding bad products. They also are invited to give testimonials, which are hugely important online.
A good review is equivalent to looking at something in a shop and someone coming up and saying ‘I have one of those, it’s really great’, or someone coming up and telling you that the product is awful and should be avoided. Even if you had never met that person before, it would have a huge impact on your choice to purchase. If you don’t have reviews on your site – people may look for those that do
Even if you had never met that person before, it would have a huge impact on your choice to purchase. If you don’t have reviews on your site – people may look for those that do
If you don’t have reviews on your site – people may look for those that do. People will go to sites like TrustPilot and ReeVoo. If you have a good rating, link to those sites. It shows that you are open, honest and willing to listen to customers.
Chat to put across your instant message
Be wary about putting up a chat window that’s too invasive – but make it easy to find a way for someone to open communication with you if they want to. Not every customer will want to chat. Those that do want to chat will generally ask similar questions, which can be answered with a macro response. Those who do have specific questions can be dealt with by a very small team that gives the impression of a much larger one.
It’s important to have a quick response, even if it’s an automated one. If people are hanging around waiting for you, it may mean that a returning customer may get frustrated and look elsewhere to conduct their business.
Make sure that all lines of communication are monitored. If you offer a range of communication through the website, email, Twitter, Facebook (or whatever else) then make sure you reply. One way communication is no communication at all.
Create a community
The ultimate aim of having open communication is to build a genuine relationship with your customers. If they trust you and like you, they will come back to you. We form bonds of trust and friendship through communication. Think beyond your store for a moment and ask what you are doing for your community of customers.
Simple things, like writing blogs and hosting a forum can create a very loyal returning customer base. If your blog speaks to your audience, they will share it with other people who are similarly minded. Community and communication both have the same Latin root, which means sharing. Share with your community and they’ll share back with you.
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