There was a time not that long ago when simply having a website was all the online presence a small business needed. Nowadays, customers are expecting to not only find information online, but also a quality shopping experience, including proactive customer service.
The online shopping experience needs to be quick and easy. That starts with a site that is designed and developed from the perspective of your customer. It must be easy and logical to navigate, provide sufficient product information, and allow customers to add items to a shopping cart and/or save for later.
Your site should offer customers the option to create a secure account, simplifying the checkout process with one click purchasing. This also helps customers remember items they’ve purchased or viewed in the past. By encouraging customers to log in to your site, you can create more targeted offers such as customized pages based on prior purchases, searches, and other gathered customer information.
Just as important as the online sales process is quality customer support. Making it easy for customers to contact you, and having well-trained representatives ready to assist goes a long way to cultivating a positive experience. Make sure your phone number is clearly posted (this is still consumers’ desired method of communication), and offer a contact form and perhaps even live chat.
Another popular customer service feature is self-help support, including well-thought out FAQs, and a help desk forum where customers can search for answers among questions other customers have already posted.
And finally, you should stay in touch with your online customers, even after they leave your site. After a purchase, reach out to them via email or text to make sure they are happy. Contact them about abandoned shopping carts to see if there is anything you can do to help. And, of course, add them to your ongoing email communications (you do have a consistent email campaign, right?).
Just having an online presence is no longer enough for small businesses. You need to have a website that is designed with your customers’ interactions first and foremost, and provides quality and immediate customer service. The good news is the cost and effort to implement a site like this is well worth it in terms of sales and brand development. And there are professionals available to help, such as your payment processing provider and sites like shopify.com, that can make the development of your site much easier.