Offer multichannel continuity
Multichannel continuity is the dream goal of all retail and as a customer is something that I love. Whether offline or online, whether on a mobile or on a desktop, if my experience is the same throughout then I am much less likely to stray.
This can be as simple as making sure anything I put in a basket on a mobile site is still there when I visit the desktop site and vice versa.
I placed some items into a basket on Tesco’s desktop site and reserved a timeslot. Upon picking up my mobile I found that they were all still present and correct.
If I need to make a customer service enquiry, then I’m dealing with the same customer service agent, even if I need to be taken from email to phone, or Twitter to live chat. I don’t want to repeat the same details again and again to multiple agents.
If I need to return an item I bought online, that I’m able to do this in one of the retailer’s high street branches.
If these examples are offered by a retailer than it proves how customer-focused it really is.
Build a community
Build a community from scratch. One that your customers can truly be a part of and make definitive decisions that affect the products you create.
This tactic may not be for every brand, but in the case of Threadless or Made.com it forms the basis of their very existence. A two-way beneficial deal that gives power to individuals to come up with ideas that the rest of the community votes for and brings into life.
A ready-made market which is already hyped-up for a product they themselves had a hand in making. The retailer couldn’t exist without the community, the community couldn’t exist without the retailer. Brand loyalty is assured.
Just because community is an integral part of the existence of the above brands, it doesn’t mean that your company can’t do the same. Major companies such as LEGO are successfully building separate communities away from its core business through crowdsourcing. Check out LEGO Ideas…
Social customer service
I’ve said it time and time again. Customers will find you wherever your brand has a channel and if your brand doesn’t operate on a customer’s preferred channel then it’s really frustrating.
Twitter is becoming more and more crucial when it comes to delivering effective customer service. The best brands here are personal, quick to respond and most of all offer resolution on the same channel.
@ChristopherRCLF Hi Christopher, our Tottenham branch is open 10-4 on Sunday. Thanks, Clare
— B&Q Help (@bandq_help) September 19, 2014
If you operate on Twitter with a great deal of personality, you engage regularly with your followers and share content that’s entertaining or helpful and not just purely for self-promotion then you will stay at the forefront of your followers minds and they will more likely come back to you.
Offering joyful little surprises to your unsuspecting followers is also excellent for brand reputation.
Although on paper it may seem like guest checkouts are an easy way to lose out on precious customer data that can be used for future marketing efforts, offering the smoothest and quickest checkout possible for customers is a key way to improving customer experience.
Customers hate endless forms, fiddly little text boxes and a lack of autofill option. Customers love entering the minimum amount of information, fast payment options and hassle free confirmation screens.
There’s a reason why Amazon’s 1-Click works so well and why I keep returning to it.
Offering guest checkout also doesn’t actually mean losing out on data. As my best practice guide suggests, just offer to save the customer’s details after the purchase has been made, then make sure all necessary input fields are already populated with their information so that all a customer needs to do is think of a password.
Then be clear about what the benefits are of saving their details and what marketing they wish to opt-in to receive.
Don’t bombard customers with endless emails. Whether it’s newsletters, retargeted emails, sale updates or basket abandonment emails, receiving more than one of these every couple of days is just spammy.
It’s important to keep your brand at the top of a customer’s mind, but don’t annoy them. Think about your subject lines, don’t go for brazen sales tactics, make sure that if you’re offering products that the recipient might like that your targeting is accurate. I’m alright for ladies shoes and maternity wear thanks very much.
This is another area where you can surprise and reward a customer for their loyalty. Perhaps on their birthday or after a certain amount of spend or years, send them a personalised money off voucher or discount.
No two people who are signed in to Amazon or eBay will ever be served with the same homepage twice. It always feels like this is a retail experience entirely bespoke to me, and through canny marketing automation it really is.
Points schemes are an obvious way to encourage loyalty. A beneficial practice is to make sure that customers on your website are always aware how many points they have and how much this translates to money off the total cost.
You can use Tesco’s Clubcard offline as well as online. It’s a simple thing, but it means that if I regularly shop at Tesco down the road, I then won’t be tempted to stray to another brand if I wish to do an online shop.
Also by registering your Clubcard online, it prepopulates your favourites list with all the items you’ve ever purchased.
Although not a points scheme, being signed up to Amazon Prime has certainly kept me loyal to its service for the past 12 months.
Keep customers logged in
If I’m already logged in then it saves me time. It may only be 30 seconds of time, but then if I’ve forgotten my password or which email address I’ve used then this can be a much larger headache and I may just give up.
Same goes for mobile. Having to always sign-in before using a website on a small screen is a serious barrier and is likely to send customers elsewhere, especially if they’ve already signed in before.
Be brilliant at delivery
Offer a range of delivery options from free to guaranteed same day to click & collect. The customer themselves will decide which is most convenient for them. Be absolutely clear on what each option means, how long each will take and how much it will cost.
Obviously free deliver is the most popular option, but don’t be afraid to offer premium options where they can pick a date and time. A customer is happy to (and expects) to spend extra for convenience. Just make sure that you deliver on what you promise, and maybe on the rare occasion that you don’t, that the customer is compensated with a discount.
Even if offering free delivery, perhaps try to deliver above what the customer expects. If your website says that free delivery can take up to five days, ship it the day of ordering anyway.
Be incredible at returns
Going back to multichannel continuity, if a customer buys an item online, they will expect to be able to return it to a high street branch. This should be absolutely no quibble.
If you only exist online, then make your returns procedure as simple and quick as possible. ASOS allows you to return an item in the same reusable package it was delivered in and comes with a returns note attached to your receipt and a postage label.
If you don’t wish to send it via the post office, ASOS also lets you use a Collect+ service from any number of local shops.
On one past occasion, I’ve returned an item to Amazon via Collect+ and as soon as the shop assistant scanned the package I received an email from Amazon saying the return has been confirmed and my refund was being processed. Don’t make customers wait needlessly for their refund.
Also, don’t charge for returns, don’t even let customers pay for postage. It’s just mean.
Quite simply, if everything you do in every aspect of your business is genuinely about giving the best customer experience possible, then your customers will keep coming back to you.
There is lots more information on customer retention from around the blog. Check out the following:
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