More people than ever are flocking to the web when they want to make purchases, research companies or simply ask customer service questions. You must ensure that your web presence provides top-notch information and a guaranteed contact method -- or risk losing valuable business.
While more than three-quarters of online shoppers rank content quality and the ability to find information as their top concern, only 44 percent were satisfied by their online experience, according to "Influencing the Online Experience," a March 2008 survey of more than 1,000 companies and their customers conducted by independent research firm ServiceXRG for InQuira, an online services provider.
"As self-service transactions replace personal interactions, the ability to shape customer experience depends on the online tools and content provided," says Tom Sweeny, principal and co-founder of ServiceXRG. The study offers these ideas for providing premier service on your site:
1. Give Your Customers What They Want
This may seem obvious, but a large number of online users complain that company websites simply do not meet their needs. This leaves customers frustrated with their experience -- and more likely to turn to competitors for results.
Strategy: You must monitor your customers’ unique needs and expectations. Consider a survey that asks what customers want from you, not just what they think about the services you already provide. Try to connect with customers at least every six months to ensure your site remains relevant.
2. Identify -- And Pay Attention To -- Your Competitors
Rest assured: You aren’t the only company that can provide your customers the services they need. Your job is to routinely investigate who’s vying for your customers’ loyalty and how well they’re doing it.
Next step: Now that you’re aware of your competitors’ approach, determine whether you can or should offer more extensive and expanded options. If your competitors are experiencing an increase in customer volume thanks to a new take on your service, you may want to start offering the same service as well.
3. Be The Customer
Secret shoppers aren’t just for the offline world. You can put your service skills to the test by asking a person or group to randomly test your site.
Try this: Create a handful of challenging scenarios for the tester to choose from, but ask her to put her own spin on the challenge. She should then try to solve the problem using your site’s services and prompts. Ask her to give detailed information about what worked -- and what must improve.
Your website is often the first and last impression you make on customers. You can’t afford to waste those chances to build lasting customer relationships.