The ubiquity of social media and instant communication today means customers are more likely to share their opinions and feedback about a brand and its products back to the organisation itself, as well as to their friends and family.
At the same time, brands are also empowered with access to monitor what customers are saying about their businesses, and the ability to connect with those who take the time out to provide feedback.
According to the Institute of Service Excellence’s 2017 Customer Satisfaction Index of Singapore, key drivers to increasing customer satisfaction and creating a positive customer experience are an organisation’s responsiveness, assurance and empathy. On the other hand, ignoring customer feedback can have significant repercussions to a brand’s image.
In today’s competitive landscape, customers are quick to take flight and switch brands if their experience is less than ideal. Qualtrics’ recent The Asia-Pacific Region’s Changing CX Environment study revealed that 74 per cent of Singaporean customers find it important for organisatons to respond to feedback they provide. More significantly, less than one quarter of Singaporeans are likely to continue doing business with an organisation that does not respond to their feedback. Factor that in with the figure that 61 per cent of shoppers in Asia Pacific base their expectations on opinions shared through social media or referrals from family and friends; the consequences of delivering poor customer experience extends beyond your direct customer, but also affects your business with members of their social communities.
Here are three ways brands can leverage their website to engage their customers:
- Show customers that you are listening to them
Most companies offer a platform for feedback, whether it’s a simple Facebook page or a more formal survey process. However, too many companies gather this feedback then fail to act on it. Retailers who do this should stop asking for feedback altogether. The damage that can be done by asking for feedback then failing to act on it is significant, and can be worse than never asking for feedback at all. This is because customers develop a more intensely negative opinion of the brand if they’re asked for feedback, then never see a result, compared with how they would feel if they had never had the opportunity to provide feedback. People want to be listened to. When a company says it’s listening, then demonstrates that it hasn’t listened, people feel betrayed.
Less than half of Singaporean shoppers (46 per cent) are certain that organisations actually listen to and act on their feedback. They believe that their feedback never reaches the relevant people that can help them.
- Respond today, not tomorrow
Online shoppers have high expectations on how quickly retailers should reply to questions and complaints. When sharing feedback on an offline retailer’s social media page, almost a third (31 per cent) of Singapore shoppers expect a response on the same day. For online retailers, the number climbs even higher, with 36 per cent expecting a same-day response.
Upon receiving feedback, retailers must respond quickly so customers are aware that their opinions are being acknowledge and considered. Even if their initial experience was negative, demonstrating eagerness to rectify the situation can help turn unhappy customers into loyal ones.
- Your website is a key customer touch point
Google Analytics can tell you a lot of information about how visitors enter your site and how frequently they visit, but they can’t tell you the why. This where feedback comes in. For an online retailer, that key moment may occur within seconds of a customer landing on a product page or at check out. Each retailer’s key moments will be different because your site visitors are different, but the underlying principle remains that if you can engage your customers where it matters most, you can drastically improve site conversion and create customers who keep coming back.
Online retailers must also target customers at the right time. Request feedback as soon as someone hits your website will only cause annoyance. Online retailers must give customers a chance to engage with your site, which in turn allows you to build rich profiles based on their behaviour. It is also recommended not to use the same questions over and over. Consider behavioural or profile-based targeting, which allows you to engage a customer at critical moments. For example, leveraging a sophisticated experience management tool, will allow you to intercept a website visitor who has been idle on a page for a certain number of time and ask if they need help finding an item. Similarly, you can intercept a frequent return visitor with special offers such as free shipping.
Using an experience management platform can help brands manage these consumers, make big impacts on the digital experience, and increase overall conversion. Engaging site visitors at the right time on the right platform provides the necessary insight to automate and streamline processes, and improve the overall customer experience. By prioritising key touch points, online retailers can adapt their services to deliver more value and in turn increase their customer’s propensity to buy and overall their return on investment.
When online retailers nail experience management, they will be positively rewarded, while those who get it wrong will be suffer severe consequences with regards to lost customers, lost revenue, reduced market share and damaged brand reputation.
- Bill McMurray is MD, Asia Pacific and Japan, with Qualtrics.