Build Online Customer Loyalty

Keeping customers happy and ‘attracted’ to the company is a tricky proposition. Gaining a new customer is thought to be almost eight times more difficult and costly than retaining the existing ones. Happy and loyal customers form the line dividing success and failure for any company. The trend of buying online is fast taking over as the way to shop and buy. E-buying is more convenient and with checks put in place to ensure complete security of transactions, the number of such customers are seen a surge. However, more than the physical world, attracting and retaining customers by building online customer loyalty is even tougher since there is no real human contact.

Customers must be able to perceive high quality and customer service for them to remain with one brand or company.

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– Ensure that the picture of the product is the one of the real product. Placing a picture is like a promise of quality and so make sure to deliver on that promise. If a customer trusts you enough to place an order by viewing a picture, the company must keep that trust by delivering what they promise. Coming through on promises is one of the most vital components of great customer service and especially online.

– Customer orders are what will run your online business, so remember to immediately acknowledge the order placed and thank the customer for it. This could be done either through an automated response, but for a more personalized touch have two or three dedicated customer service representatives, who will send a customized mail to the customer bearing their name. This should also be done for any returns that come in.

– Customers need to be kept informed. If a product is out of stock, ensure that the product site clearly mentions that and also by when it is likely to be available. Having such vital information upfront will save the customer valuable time. Also if a customer’s item is available but will be delayed for good reasons, inform the customer of this. Take the onus of the problem and deliver the product in the timeline promised. If you have resources at your disposal, ensure that every delivery is monitored. A penalty clause in your shipment carrier’s agreement will ensure that the problems of delivery or lost packages is negligible. Your customer should never need to call you up to follow up on a package. They should also be able to easily track their shipment on their own through your website.

– Form a connection with your customers despite the lack of human contact. Put up fun pictures of your office, your staff and also your manufacturing units. Add names, phone numbers and a brief write up of the key people customers may contact in case they would like to. Customers are able to trust an online provider much more when there is transparency, a personal touch and no ‘flight risk’.

– Remain visible and in focus by using all the available communication channels to keep in touch with your customers. Online stores that allow the customer flexibility of viewing, ordering or returning via any of the multi-channels, are more likely to gain online customer loyalty and trust. Monitor which customer is engaging via which channel with you and use the same one to keep the customer informed of new launches and events. This shows your customers that you are interested in their business and lives and are committed to keeping them with you. This is a sure shot way to build online customer loyalty.

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– Have a dedicated customer service team of troubleshooting wizards. No problem – technical or otherwise should be a problem for them. Customers should be able to call and have the trust and confidence that their problem will be resolved quickly and efficiently. This level of troubleshooting efficiency will blow your customers and make them buy from your repeatedly.

– Constant additions and changes to the company website keeps things fresh and exciting for the customers. When they see the effort you are putting in to keep them engaged, they will respond with loyalty. Staying current and showcasing that is a sure way to get more customers and build online customer loyalty from the existing ones.

– Despite your best efforts, there are bound to be issues or problems. The best route to take when this happens is to start with a simple yet heartfelt apology. Provide a reason but never an excuse for the problem. Promise to rectify the problem within a time frame and deliver on that promise. To make up for the issue, add a personalized note and a small gift to tell your customer that you value their business and regret they had to face a problem. Your entire team should imbibe the value of keeping customers happy and that it is not the responsibility of one team.

– Your customers also want to know that they can trust you to give them products that will solve their problems or address certain business needs. Never try to coax them in to buying something they are not sure will serve this purpose instead provide them with a solution or let them know where they can buy the product. This creates a lasting impression on customers who know they can trust you and will most certainly come back to you, rather than going elsewhere, when they need the product you have.

– The absence of complaints does not mean happy customers – especially with online shopping. They could be shopping elsewhere since they were not comfortable in complaining. Make it easy for customers to provide feedback and even complain – your website could have a feedback section that the customers can fill in. Not just complaints, even happy customers want to show their appreciation. Afford them the opportunity!

– Do not rest on laurels as that encourages complacency. This is never good for a business and especially with the challenges that online buying throws up. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes once in a while – try mystery shopping or calling as a pretend buyer – and see what kind of service you receive. It is best to keep abreast and informed.

– Long term customers and high value customers deserve some preferential treatment. Roll out the red carpet in terms of loyalty programs, first peek and buys of to be launched products – things that you would not do for first time buyers. Show them through your actions that their loyalty means a lot to you.

– Acknowledge your customer’s achievements, that appear in the news or you know about, through every channel that you are present on. Praise their accomplishments and wish them well – this makes your customers look good and provides them with free publicity and they will reward you by staying with your company and brand.

– Don’t always wait for your customers to reach out to you. With an online business, it is important that customers know that there is someone out there who cares and is not just waiting for them to do business with. Remember important dates in your customer’s life – send them an e-card or a gift on their birthday and anniversary. Tell them about products or services that you know could be of interest to them. Just reach out pro-actively – this kind of customer service is sure to build online customer loyalty.

Even with online buying or e-commerce, customer loyalty is extremely indispensable. Online transactions are devoid of human interactions and have some amount of uncertainty involved. Customers should be able to trust that those inherent uncertainties will not be used to cheat or defraud them. The practices and transaction methods must be absolutely transparent and every opportunity that can be made to inculcate trust in a customer must be taken seriously and used. This will serve to enrich the experience of your business and customers will remember to reward you with orders and loyalty.

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