I’m not a great shopper, but with Christmas and family birthdays around the world, I found myself leaping onto websites and into shops and buying or attempting to buy. The reality was that there was little buying and less pleasure to be had. Instead, I was drowned in truly idiotic and so very easily avoidable customer journey errors, and those mentioned in this article are just a few.
Before you even attempt to be outstanding, there are some basics that every company should test they are achieving. Starting at the most basic of all, getting your facts right should be a given. However, I found inaccurate descriptions and companies that made promises of delivery that simply weren’t fulfilled. These are the bottom line on which your contract with your customer is based. If you promise your customer something, however big, however small, deliver it. The devil may be in the details, but your customer is still entitled to what they paid for.
I appreciate we are all under more pressure these days. But, when I had these issues, not once did the suppliers put their hands up and take honest ownership, let alone apologise. Instead, both wrote long and self-justifying messages about how it wasn’t really their fault. Having had a business or two, no one understands better than me how very wrong things can go, however hard you try. But never, ever take it out on the customer. See it instead as an opportunity to show your human side. Own the problem and put it right.
Stock issues are once again something nearly every business owner has been up against. Leaving a drop-down menu of a range of products with each size saying out of stock and no other explanation is nothing short of crazy. You leave the customer with no option but to look for something else to buy, elsewhere. If you have stock issues, say so and when you anticipate it being resolved. Many potential buyers will wait.
On the subject of websites, I discovered many companies that make it insanely hard to find a contact number. It is hard to imagine anything that says more clearly that they don’t want to speak to their customers. But there is one thing – the customer service department that has an email address but doesn’t answer their emails.
If you have an e-commerce site, make it easy to pay on it. It is more challenging now with international monetary regulations. But if there is a possibility that an overseas customer might order from you, ensure it is possible. It isn’t hard. There are bank transfer and PayPal options. Every step along the journey should be easy for the customer and enabling them to buy is a no-brainer.
Collecting data can be an art and give your company huge marketing advantages, but it can also be a customer pain point. If you are selling things that might be gifted, the recipient and payee are usually different. Data collection should keep them so. For example, if the payee asks questions, the responses should be addressed to them, not the payee. Otherwise, it comes across as inefficient and rude.
Automated messages need to work and answer the question poised or are guaranteed to push the customer to screaming point. And a minor tip; if there is a chance your customer might be complaining, a regular automated message telling them to have a good day only rubs salt in their already raw wounds.
Be your customer. Test, test, test your website out and see if it works. Ensure it produces the information you need to do a first-class job for your customers, at every single point. And once again, if the customer is asking for help, listen to them. Achieving a sale is only part of the job. Exceptional service can turn a customer into an ambassador. Train your team to look at the customer as something of value, on which their job depends.
You can have the snazziest-looking website, the most fantastic product or service, but if the customer journey falls short, you will never reach your potential. Instead, make it both easy and pleasurable to buy from you.