Customers value value. That seemingly cryptic statement encapsulates the customer's primary expectation from ecommerce. If you read my article on the advantages of ecommerce, you know that "lowered prices" is a big one. Today, online customers have come to expect value.
Retain Customers By Creating Value
But what creates value for a customer is arguable. A lower price is not the only form of value. Customers value products and services that meet their needs or desires. They might not always know their desires or needs, but these do create value for the customer. Customers also value good treatment. Treat a customer right and they feel respected. Treat them any other way and they will quickly despise you.
Customers also value professionalism. Professionalism, whether through the functionality of a shopping cart or the website, or in any other media or context, makes or breaks their respect for you. Once you realize what your customers value, you can understand how to retain your customers
Are Customers Always Right?
My great grandfather was a shopkeeper. He told my grandfather, "the customer is always right." However my grandfather's thought otherwise. I am not really sure whether my grandfather was narrating a lesson he learned from this father, or simply repackaging a common proverb. In any case, the exception to this proverb is when the customer does not know what she really needs or wants.
When the customer is unsure, marketing should help him get in touch with his needs. Many see advertising as a brainwashing gimmick, but the best advertisements simply wake up the audience to their real needs or sincere desires.
How to Drive Your Customers Off
Of course, you want to keep your customers. So it is critical to know what to avoid that might drive them away.
- Insult their intelligence, and they will search elsewhere. Never talk down to your customers, even in advertising.
- Make a crappy presentation of your products or services. You lose the right to be heard when you slouch on presentation. You must earn the right to speak to your customers. Put time and enthusiasm into preparing and delivering your presentation, whether it is your website, your shopping cart, brochures, images, emails, live presentations, elevator pitches, or product descriptions. Earn the right to be heard.
- Not delivering the product right can be a major turn-off. That is where you need to be on top of your fulfillment strategy. Maybe you should consider outsourcing your logistics to a third party logistics provider.
Creating a Need to Return Again and Again and Again
The best ecommerce businesses sell in such a way that the customer wants to return. The hope is that they are not returning merely to initiate reverse logistics, e.g., to return goods that do not work.
Etching Your Brand Into the Customer's Brain
Another way to ensure that your customers return is to plant a bug in their brains. This little bug keeps reminding them of your product, service, or business. Every business has the opportunity to plant bugs through powerful means such as video, graphics, and audio. You could also effectively use interactivity, such as setting up a blog or creating a social ecommerce strategy.
Wooing Back a Dissatisfied Customer
What do you do about your dissatisfied customers? How do you win them back? The obvious ways are through promotions, freebies, or new services. Imagine, though, that they are upset about their experience with you. Perhaps your shopping cart really sucked, and now you offer them a discount on one of your products. Even if it is a 50% discount it is unlikely that you will convince them to revisit the horror that is your shopping cart.
"Fix the damned cart!" they might tell you. So do it, because in this case the customer is definitely right.
How can you discover what has driven off your customers, so you know what to fix? You could try asking the dissatisfied ones to participate in a survey, but it is highly unlikely they will. People often believe that their opinions do not matter, especially if you are asking to give feedback through some mass approach.
There is really only one way to do it. Contact them personally, without any jargon or form letters. Write to them individually, and promise to improve. You could then request them to help by telling you, in a free-form email, what the problem was. It is hard work when addressing hundreds or thousands of dissatisfied e customers, but if you have so many, then it is even more critical that you find out what is going wrong.