5 Proven Ways to Kill Your Customer's Online Experience With You

December 14, 2018

Have you ever been a customer at a large corporate chain where they royally mess up? Trying to make a purchase was difficult, the manager is dismissive and condescending, and you leave vowing never to return again. Though this isn’t how other stores in the corporate chain might have handled the situation, your experience directly affected your perception of the entire company and its brand.

Have you ever been a customer at a large corporate chain where they royally mess up? Trying to make a purchase was difficult, the manager is dismissive and condescending, and you leave vowing never to return again. Though this isn’t how other stores in the corporate chain might have handled the situation, your experience directly affected your perception of the entire company and its brand.

Unfortunately, we only get one chance at first impressions, and it’s important to make them count in a big way. Thanks to the transparency of the internet, you’ve got to be on your A-game all the time, regardless if you’re a brick-and-mortar store or an online retailer. Are you committing these 5 sins that guarantee to send your customers fleeing to your competition?

Hello? The 80’s Called. They Want Their Website Back.

You’ve been in business for 20 years, why do you need to update your website? People know about you, your business is based on referrals, and sales are at a plateau, but sustaining your company and the people working in it. Why add to the complexity of your business model or spend a bunch of money on a commodity?

While we’ve heard this sentiment over and over again, this is incredibly dangerous thinking. Businesses that don’t continually plan in anticipation for change, or that aren’t willing to adapt, will eventually be drowned out by your competitors that are.

Websites were once considered to be a commodity, but today, they’re a necessity. Though you may have a decent customer base, you’re completely ignoring an untapped market. There are tons of opportunities you’re missing out on. If you’re a local shop, you’re missing out on the exposure generated from search traffic. If tourists are in town, looking for a place with your services or products, you’re likely either not showing up in search results, or your website is so bad, they’re finding a competitor.

Google’s goal is to provide the best possible user experience for their customer. The last thing they want is to send their users to a risky website that hasn’t been updated or maintained in years. Google determines whether your website is relevant, helpful, and up-to-date in a matter of seconds during a search. If your website content hasn’t been updated, your security certificates have expired, and you’ve got website animations or heavy images slowing down your site, you’re going to fall far below the companies who have recently updated sites, an active blog, and are generating steady website traffic from several sources.

Another thing to keep in mind is that your customer can’t touch or feel your products online. Many people will research a company online before even considering walking into the store. If you’re not sure what your customers may be looking for online, download our website design personas toolkit! It’ll help map out the navigation, features, and functions of your site based on your customer’s needs.

If you haven’t updated your website in even a year, it’s time to evaluate and identify any opportunities to improve. Remember: planning in anticipation for change will be your key to successfully beating out your competition.

Totally Ignore Online Reviews & Let Your Profiles Go

If you haven’t done business with someone before, don’t you want to conduct a little bit of research prior to purchasing? In today’s world, online reviews are the new age of referrals. Let’s say you’re in a new city and want to find a pizza place near you. You conduct a Google search, and see there are three options. The first restaurant has 2.5 stars out of 5 across hundreds of reviews. The second one averages 4.5 stars but reviewers are saying to expect a wait time, but it’s well worth it. The third restaurant averages 4.2 stars across 10 reviewers, but it’s a little further than you’d like to walk based on their location. Based on your options, you decide you’ve got some time to kill, and you’d rather have top-tier pizza and wait, rather than sub-par pizza in a suspicious location, or good pizza and a long walk in the cold.

See how critical online reviews play a part in your decision making? If these pizza restaurants had not had their location updated, they wouldn’t have displayed in your search “pizza places near me.” The horrible reviews completely deterred you away from option number 1. The glowing reviews on option 2 set an expectation for you that there might be a bit of a wait, but it was worth it. The final option was a little further than you’d like to have walked, and had less of a rating than the second option.

You can’t always control what people say about your business, but you can control how you respond. Maintaining your online review profiles gives you this control. Responding to all your reviews, including the bad ones, will help establish trust with new buyers. Oh, and did we mention that maintaining your online review profiles also help boost your search rankings?

Think about how you can incentivize your customers to write an online review. Offer up movie tickets, donations to your local food banks, or other fun prizes in exchange.  

Don’t Implement a Customer Service Chat

One of the good things about buying in-store is being able to talk to a salesperson and ask any questions or voice concerns you may have. If you sell products online, you must have some sort of customer service built into the site. By having a customer service chat, you’re able to get questions answered in real-time, address concerns, offer alternative solutions, and even upsell!

A quick way to send your customers running to the competition is by not being available to answer questions about your product. Don’t rely solely on contact forms if you’re an online retailer.

Let Your Social Media Die

Everyone is on social media. Your target customers are on social media. Isn’t that where you need to be, then? Social media isn’t a magic wand that will suddenly make you a millionaire. (And you should run far away from anyone who promises you that!) It’s merely a touch point. It’s a way to keep your business top of mind, convert buyers who have previously shown interest in your business, and drive your overall business goals.

When people conduct research online, they’re using several channels to do so. They’re looking at your website, your reviews, and yes, your social media channels. It gives buyers an idea of who you are, what you do, and how other customers interact with you. By not maintaining your social media, you’re ignoring a huge opportunity to reach the masses.

If social media hasn’t worked for you, or produced the results you were looking for, ask yourself this: did you have the right message, on the right platforms, using the right ads, displayed to the right people, at the right time? If you’re missing any one of those components, your social media campaigns will not drive the outcomes you want.

Lots of businesses jump right into creating ads and throwing money behind posts. They often fail to strategize and plan, set goals, setup the correct measurement tracking, take the time to optimize and make adjustments based on the campaign’s performance, analyze the results, and improve. Social media is a lot of work, but in order for you to do it effectively, it’s important to do it right. If you need to, hire someone to help you plan, strategize, and at least help manage your paid spending.

Social media is all about, well, being social. Your story has to be compelling for people to engage. Your target audience must be defined. Your ads have to be relevant to the people you are targeting. Your message must drive the actions you’re looking for. Above all, your content must reflect who you are as a brand. Social media is more about posting – it’s about truly creating fans who are willing to drive your business goals for you.

Keep Your Product Descriptions & Return Policy Vague

We agree that the experience of shopping online is quite different from shopping in a store. Without being able to touch and feel the product, it can be difficult deciding what the product will and won’t be. This is why having clear product descriptions, sizes, photos, and videos are absolutely crucial to the success of your online store. If you want people to buy your product online, you’re going to need to demonstrate what it’s like to have it in real life.

Never underestimate the power of words. Your product descriptions can be the difference between quickly converting a sale, or losing it due to the customer being confused or unsure. Invest in quality videos and product photos. Have your social media fans help you by creating content for you. Use contests and giveaways to incentivize them to provide you with photos or videos of them using your product. This way, you can show buyers on the fence how your products are used in everyday life, or the impact the product has on their lives. The more real your product “feels”, the higher chance you’ll have to convert your sale.

Your return policy should be clearly stated on your website, as well. Keep your returns process simple and easy. Include return labels in your packaging, or offer up delivery service pickup. Make it easy to be able to exchange or your return your product. The last thing customers want to deal with is a messy returns process.

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