To my way of thinking, there are two business functions that every single company needs to execute well, every day of the year, in order to be categorized as a successful business.
The first function is marketing. Regardless of the product you sell, the size of your company, or the underlying bankroll you operate from, if you don’t market what you sell, and market it well, you will most likely never be successful.
The second daily business function that is critical to every business that I know is customer service. That is the topic for this 2-part post.
How many people do you know personally that don’t really care how they’re treated? How many folks enjoy being put off, ignored, lied to, ripped off, pushed around, run around in circles, or treated like they were criminals?
Yet every day online, in every niche imaginable, business owners either consciously (seldom) or unconsciously (often) execute their business in a way that sends a clear message to prospects and customers: “this business doesn’t really care about you – if we did, “we wouldn’t . . .” or ” we would . . .”
Online business has a special challenge to create and develop a relationship with each of its customers. Popular marketing expert Seth Godin talks about this process as one of developing strangers into friends, and friends into customers.
You won’t be making a lot of sales if you can’t develop a relationship of trust and confidence with your customers. You do that by infusing exceptional customer service into every nook and cranny of your business.
Some business owners may balk at the thought of the expense of providing excellent customer service. Doesn’t it take a huge effort, lots of employees, and cost tons of money?
It may if you don’t already have systems and protocols in place that are purposefully designed to open up your business to your customers.
If your business is presently “customer unfriendly” it may require a major effort to turn things around.
A better way to implement customer service changes is to modify your current operations, one step at a time, day after day, until you have transformed your whole operation into a comfortable and “warm” place for your prospects to be; a “customer-centric” operation.
When your customers show up at your web site, you want them to feel as though they are stepping out of the cold (impersonal Internet world) and into a cozy cabin where the fire is lit, the stew is ready, there are friends all around to welcome them and offer assistance, and there are familiar sights and sounds of fun, security, and comfort.
So what are the little details you can orchestrate into your business and your web site that inspire trust, appreciation, and comfort and send the message that you really do care about every individual that walks through your door?
I can’t tell you every idea you might try in your business because each business subject and model is different.
But here are some of the no-brainer, easy to do, little changes you can make in your business that will let your customers know that they are important to you:
1. Make it very easy and intuitive for a stranger to navigate your web site.
I have heard it said that a visitor ought to be able to navigate to any page, or purchase any product on your site, in just two clicks.
If you care about your customers you will respect their time and not lead them around in circles or on wild goose chases.
2. Don’t hide your FAQs, policies, contact information, guarantee, or customer support links.
Make all this important company information readily available and easy to locate. If you have nothing to hide your customers will begin to trust you more than they trust the “average” commercial business.
They will feel that you are being open, fair, and honest with them, even if they don’t necessarily agree with all your terms and policies.
3. Put into place up-to-date and effective security measures.
Protect the customer’s personal and confidential information and email address that you gather for your mailing list, newsletter, or credit card transactions, even if you don’t store credit card information on your site. Purchase an SSL certificate for your site which allows for added financial transaction security (your pages will then show “https …”), or secure pages, when a buyer attempts to make a purchase.
Let him review and manage his own profile.
Make it easy for him to opt-out of services that he no longer wishes to subscribe to.
In the next post, Part 2, we’ll look at some more ideas you can incorporate into your customer service routine to reduce the risk for your prospects and customers in dealing with your business.
To you online business success,