Happy Monday Everyone!
I hope you had a great weekend and are looking forward to a productive week ahead!
Today I want to talk about strategies on how to impress your customers. And by impress I really mean make them feel AMAZING before, during and after their purchase. This topic was actually suggested in December’s Readers’ Contest, so many thanks to the person who came up with this idea!
I’m not re-inventing the wheel here obviously – all the strategies I’m going to talk about are mostly common sense BUT the problem is that the majority of you aren’t implementing them! And I don’t take credit for these ideas either – the list is created based on my personal experience and most of them are borrowed from well-known companies, companies who have already figured it out! All you have to do is copy what they do or at least borrow some ideas to impress your customers!
Ok then, let’s get started with my TOP 10 ways to impress your customers!
1. The sales channel
It all starts with the product listing – be it eBay, Amazon or your own online store. All the things I have talked about hundreds of times need to be perfect! This includes:
- Professional product images (super important)
- Accurate and detailed descriptions
- Precise and customer friendly payment, shipping, returns and contact details
These 3 things you absolutely MUST get right! You want your customers to be impressed the moment they land on your product page – with all the information in place so that they simply can’t find a reason not to order from you.
The checkout process also matters. On eBay & Amazon this is already taken care of for us and buyers generally have a very good shopping experience (a very fast one too as people don’t have to enter any address details etc.) but if you run an online shop, make sure you:
- Have a one page checkout process
- Have an option to checkout as a Guest (without registering)
- Have at least two payment options (cards + PayPal)
- Have security seals, contact information, and short returns information all visible on the checkout page
People who own online shops will know that a large percentage of customers leave the site on the checkout page, without making payment. So the checkout page is one thing you really need to master – get it custom designed if needed, in order to reduce cart abandonment to an absolute minimum.
2. Super fast shipping
Under-promise and over-deliver when it comes to shipping – you NEED to deliver on time or sooner. Things are changing very quickly in the ecommerce world and while just a few years ago 1 week delivery was completely normal, nowadays people expect 1-2 day delivery as standard.
So if you’re planning to dropship from China and offer 30 day delivery to UK customers, don’t bother! Why would they buy from you? If you send goods from China directly to your customers and offer very slow delivery, there’s no point in ordering from you. Customers can buy from Chinese sellers on eBay directly, or AliExpress, and most likely pay less than what you charge.
It’s also a good option to offer at least 2 types of delivery methods – courier/Royal Mail and some kind of parcel point delivery (My Hermes, Argos or similar). These pick-up locations and lockers are becoming more and more popular as with busy lifestyles, many people want to have control over when they pick up their parcels.
Obviously you want to pack items neatly and securely, that’s the absolute minimum. But if you sell your own brand items, you can take this one step further and actually create packaging that WOWS your customers!
It could be as simple as the way the package is opened – like those Amazon cardboard envelopes we’re all used to by now which can be opened by pulling out that one bit. That’s a classic example of how to improve your buyers’ experience and impress them BEFORE they’ve even touched the item.
If you sell kits/bundles, think about creative ways of how you could package them nicely. Maybe offer some kind of pouch/case/inlay where all items are securely fitted. Don’t just throw them all in a bubble envelope!
Don’t forget that you can actively promote your company and build brand awareness this way too. Many companies have started doing this recently – including some kind of bag/cloth/pouch with the item for storage purposes. For example – a bluetooth speaker I recently purchased came in such a pouch, obviously with a large logo on it. I didn’t even know this would be included with the item, so that impressed me instantly when my order arrived!
4. Free Gift
If at all possible, always try to include some kind of small gift with each item you sell. Just like with that bluetooth speaker example, an accessory/storage solution is a PERFECT gift that most people will be very happy with!
But if that’s not possible, even free candy is a good option! I personally always smile when I find some candy inside my orders. I give them to my kids and make them happy – so I’m happy! Actually, thinking about it, this may be the reason they’re always so excited when something is delivered to our house! 🙂
5. Easy instructions
If you have ever purchased any cheap gadgets from China, you’ll know what I’m talking about here. To be honest, I just don’t get it! Even large, multi-million dollar Chinese companies can’t hire a native English speaker/writer to create clear instructions? I’m not even talking about the grammar mistakes every Chinese manual comes with – some are simply impossible to understand!
This is where you can EXCEL!!! If your item needs assembly of some kind, create detailed, step by step instructions, with PHOTOS, on how to do it! Or even better, create a video! Post it on YouTube and simply email this link to customers or include the link in the manual/instructions.
You can actually advertise this in your product’s listing as well! And trust me – many people will buy from you because of this video as they’re simply afraid that they won’t be able to assemble the product on their own.
Just take a look at IKEA – if you have purchased anything from them, you’ll know how GOOD their instructions are! Very detailed, step by step, clear instructions. This is actually one of the main factors of IKEA’s popularity.
Another example – I recently purchased Anker tempered glass screen protectors for me and my wife’s iPhones:
They cost just 5 quid each but I was simply AMAZED by the quality of the packaging and instructions included. It was basically Apple quality at an amazingly low price.
The kit was packaged very nicely, included various accessories (stickers), two cleaning cloths and clear instructions on how to properly align and apply these glass screen protectors. I was really impressed and I will definitely recommend this particular company and their products to my friends (especially to those who always have a very hard time aligning them properly).
6. High quality product
There’s not much to say about this really – you only want to sell high quality products if you really want to impress your customers! There’s nothing worse than a product that is dead on arrival or one that breaks down a few days after purchase. Inferior, low quality materials, bad manufacturing, cheap components – these are all things you want to stay well clear of!
This is exactly why I always recommend getting 2-3 product samples from different suppliers so you can compare quality side by side.
Also, don’t forget that high quality doesn’t often come with a cheap price! Many times I’ve seen people OVER-NEGOTIATE the price with manufacturers in China and they’re then surprised that they receive low quality products.
What happens is that often manufacturers will simply cut corners – replace materials, run production machinery faster than it should be etc. – to reach your desired price. The end result is poorly manufactured, low quality products that will never impress your customers.
So always keep in mind that while getting a low price is of course important, you shouldn’t sacrifice product quality.
7. Friendly, fast and responsive customer support
Yes, everyone knows this, right? I don’t think so… otherwise my blog wouldn’t be full of comments from eBay buyers who have had terrible experiences and sellers have simply ignored them.
The first rule here is to DEAL WITH THE SITUATION, whatever it is. The biggest mistake you can make is to ignore customer emails/requests and just hope “it’ll sort itself out”. I’m afraid in most cases that only makes it worse.
Always reply to all customer messages/emails within 12 hours, if not sooner. If you work full time, make sure to check your inbox in the morning before you leave for work and in the evening, when you get home.
The customer is always right, after all? I guess we all know that nowadays this is far from true, especially on eBay, where professional buyer-scammers have basically learned how to exploit the system and get goods for free or for a fraction of their actual cost.
So no, the customer ISN’T always right. But as an online seller, you really need to be aware of Amazon/eBay rules and act within them. If you can’t win the situation and know that eBay/Amazon will side with the buyer, it’s better for you to just do that yourself. On the other hand, if you have evidence/proof that a buyer is scamming you, make sure to contact eBay/Amazon (ideally over the phone) as you’ll be amazed how often they actually side with the seller (yes, it’s true!).
But if you really want to impress your customers, always try to resolve issues as smoothly as possible. If it’s a defective product and you feel that the customer is genuine, simply send out a replacement, don’t even ask them to return the original (as that will just cost you more and you won’t be able to sell a defective item anyway) unless it’s something expensive or you need to send it to your supplier in order to get a refund/credit from them.
8. Easy Returns
Everyone wants to feel safe when purchasing online, that’s a no brainer. You need to offer a simple and clear returns policy, with no strings attached. I have covered this in more detail in my recent Consumer Contracts Regulations (CCR) article.
On eBay/Amazon this is really all taken care of for you but if you run your own online shop, make sure you follow the CCRs and most importantly – make the information clear and easily available on your online shop, to give customers that extra piece of mind. The best way to do this is by including a short version of your returns text in your website’s header, that way everyone will see it without having to go to your FAQ pages.
9. Do not advertise, give value instead
When you start building your mailing list (newsletter) it may be very tempting to just send out promotions and sales offers every other day to your list. DON’T DO IT!
You WON’T impress your customers! In fact – you’ll annoy them and many of your customers will simply unsubscribe from your list or even worse, mark your emails as SPAM. In the best case they’re going to just ignore you.
You want to build a relationship with your list so that when you have a special offer/sale/promotion, they’re OPEN to it and actually make those purchases.
And the best way to build that relationship with your list is by giving them something VALUABLE! Something that can help your customers, educate them or even just make them smile.
I’m talking about articles, how to guides, videos (even funny ones) – anything that carries some kind of value and can be distributed for free (digital content).
Exact strategies will mostly depend on the product type/category you sell, but I’ve yet to see a single product that you can’t come up with at least a few original content ideas you can create and share with your customers.
10. Be Pro-Active!
If you constantly get a specific complaint from customers about the product, FIX IT! Don’t be lazy! If there’s a problem with the product you can fix, you should do so straight away. Remember, only a small percentage of unsatisfied customers will contact you and inform you about such things. This could mean that when you receive 2 complaints out of 100, the actual figure of dissatisfied customers could be 20 or even 30 out of 100. Most will just not bother contacting you, especially if it’s a cheap product.
Another example – if you get frequent messages from buyers saying that the item arrived in damaged packaging, FIX IT! Change the packaging or shipping company/method to avoid such situations.
Or if for example your customers constantly ask for some accessories that they need but you don’t sell – source them and offer up-sells or even create bundles with the main product. As I said, you may think that 2 requests out of 100 sales is not enough to bother BUT the actual problem is much bigger than the number of customers that contact you. Be pro-active and fix such issues immediately!
And that’s it for today – 10 awesome ways to impress your customers and make them really feel special. Even if you implement 5 of these, you’ll be way ahead of the majority of your competition. In particular I want to emphasise the importance of having clear instructions for products that are more technical or need assembly as this is another way we can stand out and compete with Chinese sellers on eBay and Amazon, rather than fighting on price alone.
The packaging is equally important, especially if you sell your own branded products. If you want to charge higher prices than others, you absolutely MUST present your brand in the best way possible, so that your customers feel like they’ve received good VALUE.
Value is the most important keyword here as it’s not about cheap or expensive – it’s all about VALUE! If customers see the VALUE in your offer and that value goes along with your pricing model, you will get those sales!
OK, that’s it for today. On Wednesday we’ll have the first of a new short series of posts on Business Terminology. Stay tuned for that!