If you ask me, I think we have a rather simple website. On our website, we list books, and a few other products such as notepads, our prices are listed as clearly as daylight, the checkout and payment processes are simple. There is really nothing much to explain, but the little that there is we explain through our FAQs page. You might be forgive me for thinking that a customer who comes to buy our products will have it rather easy.
It was when we installed a WhatsApp chat plugin, that allowed visitors to directly chat with one of us via WhatsApp, that we realised how naive we were in assuming that we had provided the customer will all the information they needed. Here are some of the lessons we gleaned from our experiences, although I must say the learning has just begun.
a. Don’t assume customers know everything.
Don’t assume they know how to search for a product, “add it” to the shopping cart, or pay for it and complete the transaction. If they find the process of buying too intimidating, they will simply abandon the site and move elsewhere. It is in the business’ interest to make it easy for the customer to proceed, or for you to help them with the information they need.
b. Don’t assume customers will search for the information they need.
This is a big one because you have assumed that plugging in a few FAQs will address any issues visitors to your website might have. Many customers cannot be bothered to search for answers, and it often happens that they cannot word their search queries in a way that matches the way you have worded them on your website. These customers would therefore rather consult a help desk and get their queries answered.
c. No information is too trivial.
We have had people query if books will be shipped to their address, if they can use credit cards for purchase, and if they will be informed when the books are shipped – information you might think most shoppers on e-commerce sites are familiar with. When people pay for a good or service, especially on a website they have never been on previously, they are skeptical and cautious. It helps to have a person they can talk to and address their issues. It is also important that the person they speak to is patient and helpful, and has all relevant information. If you are that person, and are unable to immediately answer a query, ask for more time, and get back to them with the answer when you have it.
d. Respect your customer.
This follows from the previous points I made. With all the pressures of business, it is natural to feel irritated if the questions are trivial or if they have already been addressed in your FAQs section, or elsewhere on your website. But it is important to remember that your customer is intimidated too – they are about to make a purchase and spend money on your website, and it is important that they get all the information they need. Don’t blow them off, or treat their queries dismissively. You will lose that customer and others they might speak to.
In many ways, customer service is an evolving aspect of doing business via the Internet. Rules are constantly changing, and shoppers themselves have come to expect more from businesses. Technology has made customer service easier and personable, but it is still important not to lose track of the basics.
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