The way people do business was already changing before the pandemic, but lockdowns and social distancing hastened many of the changes that were already happening. Seven percent more people started making purchases online, bringing the percentage of the population that makes purchases remotely to 60 percent.
It’s safe to say that the floodgates have opened, and consumer expectations are being shaped by the online experience. So, what do you need to know?
1. Your Customers Expect Fast Delivery and “Delivered” Pricing
With an increasing number of people shopping online, you may need to offer two price structures: once for online shopping, and one for in-store purchases. A company offering rush couriers in Texas confirms that same-day delivery is an expectation these days. The businesses they serve all want to ensure that customers get their purchases delivered fast. And speed has become their biggest selling point.
You also need to consider customer mindsets when making a purchase online. If they see an item, like it, and find the price acceptable, but are then hit with an extra delivery fee at checkout, that could be a deal-breaker. That’s why so many companies are offering “free” delivery. In truth, delivery is merely built into the ticket price. After all, everyone has to cover costs and make a profit.
2. Customers Want Immediate Attention
The rise of Artificial Intelligence means that simple questions can be answered on auto. But if your bot can’t cope, it’s time for a person to step into the breach. A friendly message saying you’ll be in touch during business hours won’t cut it if your competitors are able to offer 24/7 support.
By the same token, meeting this expectation when your competitors don’t, could give you a competitive edge. How do you go about offering such a service? Chances are you’ll have to contract a customer contact centre to make offering this kind of service cost-effective.
3. Even if They’re Online, They Want to Be Recognized
Ironically, it’s actually easier to give customers a sense of being recognized when you’re working online. After all, you can’t be expected to recognize a customer who last bought something from you several months ago if you’re operating a brick-and-mortar store.
But if you’re working online, and have the right software, customer history is at your fingertips. You can identify where your customer is in his or her customer life-cycle and tailor communication accordingly. You’ll know when and how they interacted with your business and exactly what those interactions consisted of.
4. Customer Experience is More Important Than Ever
No matter where and how you operate, customer experience is the key to remaining competitive. If you’ve decided that doing business online isn’t for you, you’d better be able to offer an experience that your customers will love so much that they’ll consider paying you a visit worthwhile. A tough call? Depending on what you sell, it may well be!
If you’re selling online, you need to ensure that everything your customers do seems almost effortless. From logging in to checkout, your interfaces must be engineered for ease of use. Great design and engineering lie behind the simplest of transactions, but they create the impression of being the simplest thing in the world. The moral of the story? By making it easy and pleasant to do business with you, you stand a better chance of getting business!
A Salutary Tale in Closing
Who remembers Toys R Us? The once-powerful toy retail chain was brought down by a combination of factors. Primarily, however, it was poor customer experience and a failure to make provision for online sales that spelled the end. Will your business suffer the same fate? If it fails to respond to changing customer expectations, it may well. So, if you aren’t doing so already, get to work on delivering what your customers really want.