Support Customers Through The Buyer Journey

Everyone reading this must understand the importance of getting order fulfillment right. If not, welcome to Peoplevox’s blog, where you can learn about perfecting order fulfillment and how to deliver (pun intended) great experiences for your customers. Where have you been all this time? Get yourself subscribed to their blog now!

You also must understand the importance of creating a positive experience on your eCommerce website. Deliver an outstanding experience that makes your customers feel warm inside and they shall return. You probably even understand how to provide that positive experience; easy navigation, clear information and support when customers need it are all crucial parts of the online customer experience.

Sometimes supporting a browsing website visitor and getting the order right in your warehouse can seem like two completely different tasks though. Sure, when the order comes through on your website it goes into the order fulfillment system and your warehouse springs to life. But in terms of the positive customer experience, besides making sure the right customer gets the right product, for many companies the conscious effort to wow the customer ends at the ‘Buy’ button.

The Chat Shop team want to explain to you why that effort shouldn’t come to a grinding halt after the purchase has been made. We don’t want you to be washing your hands of customers and their needs after they’ve made their payment.

“Hey, they’ve chosen a product and paid us, that’s all of our work done!” NO. You want to be building loyalty with your customers and creating positive word of mouth. How? Support your customers through the buyer journey, from start to finish. That means on your website, through to delivery and after they’ve received their brand new, shiny product.

According to Marketing Metrics the probability of selling a product to existing customers is around 60 to 70%, while the probability of selling to a new customer is only 5% to 20%. Keep ‘em happy, keep ‘em coming back and see the benefit in your bottom line. Customers that already trust you and have a relationship with you are far more perceptive to purchasing from you than a customer that doesn’t.

Now you’re asking: “How do I create a positive customer experience beyond my eCommerce website then?!” Well, hold your horses, I’m about to explain.

Dealing with delays

You don’t want delays to happen, but face it...delays happen! Even if your order fulfillment process is fine tuned to perfection, you can face delays and disruption for reasons outside of your control. Severe weather or errors from third parties for example. Always be prepared for crises by formulating a crisis management plan and recovery method.

You should be prepared to deal with any barriers stopping you from providing a quality product on time. Delays create a negative experience for your customer. If a crisis occurs then you of course want to fix it quick and try to stop it from happening again, but that’s not the only thing that you should be dealing with. You also need to make sure that this doesn’t turn into a massive turn off for your website visitors.

First thing’s first, communicate the delay clearly with the customer. If the product isn’t going to arrive exactly when they expect it to, then you need to let them know about it. Don’t just communicate this sort of information in a robotic manner. Be empathetic. You mucked up or a supplier that you are responsible for (in the customer’s eyes) did. Hold your hands up and give a genuine ‘sorry’.

Explain to your customers how you are going to fix the situation. Offer them alternatives to just attempting delivery the next day or next week (or whatever the most logical solution is). Just because you think you have the most logical solution to the problem doesn’t mean that the customer will necessarily enjoy it. Asking customers how you can solve the problem makes that part of the experience positive. That’s you supporting your customer’s needs. Provide them with a solution that they want, they deserve it.

Personalised updates

Are you setting realistic expectations for your customers? After customers click that buy button, what is the next step? Is it clear when and where they will be receiving their delivery?

You want to continue a line of communication between you and your customer from when they first visit your website until...well forever really. I guess it is until they stop being your customer anymore, but we don’t want to imagine that that day exists. Do we?

Try to give customers accurate order updates based on where they live in the world and what they are being delivered. Update your customers as to the whereabouts of their delivery too! But don’t just do this in a plain and robotic manner - example to the right (very boring). Do it in a friendly and personable manner, add your brand's personality and have a little fun. Don’t make everything so formal; build up a relationship with your customers.

Keeping customers updated through the buyer journey makes for a positive experience. Customers want to know when they are receiving that perfect product - they are probably super-excited. They can’t wait to open it. Use that hype to build connections and loyal customers.

You can even use these timely notifications to encourage a return to your website. Notify customers if you’ve just introduced a new line of products that would go great with what they have ordered. Not only are you increasing loyalty but you could also be increasing sales right there and then.

Support availability

As I’ve explained, customer experience doesn’t stop being your responsibility at the ‘Buy’ button. To deliver a positive experience that will create loyal customers and positive word of mouth, you need to support your customers’ wants and needs in a human manner, throughout the buyer journey. A positive customer experience involves everything up to delivery and throughout the product lifecycle, too. It is when you meet (and even exceed) customer expectations and deliver on the promises that you made when they bought the product.

If you want customers to return and spread a good word, then you have to be there for them. Don’t just take their money and then offer little or no after-sales support. Provide outstanding customer service options at every stage of their journey.

When your customers are browsing your eCommerce store, offer a range of support options to satisfy their varying preferences (e.g. email, phone, live chat or social media). Make support easy to use and easy to reach. You may want to offer live chat within easy reach on any page of your website. Allow customers to start a chat from wherever they get in trouble, and even proactively offer support if you know that they are stuck.

Respond to your customers in a timely manner - no matter what support options you choose. Make your customers feel special. They are special because without them you wouldn’t have a business. Even if they are the ones that have caused a problem, take responsibility for making them happy.

Make support options easily accessible at every stage of the buyer journey. Don’t just be helpful when you are trying to get customers to spend. Provide links and contact information for your support channels, with every communication.

Add a QR code for live chat to delivery slips, in case the product is damaged. Send an email, that can be replied to, for order updates. Encourage interactions through social media, in your eNewsletters.

Make support a pain free and positive experience, no-matter what stage of their journey the buyer is at.

Your customers need support long after that initial browse on your eCommerce website. They want and need support between checkout and delivery, and throughout the life of the product. To create a positive experience that encourages repeat custom and spreads positive word of mouth, you need to support your customers in a friendly and personable manner right through the buyer journey.

Update customers when something goes wrong and get their input on how you can fix the situation for them. Keep customers in the loop; use empathy and personality in your communications. Provide easy to use and easy to access support at every stage of the buyer journey.

About the author

Miles Hobson is Content and Communications Executive at The Chat Shop. Miles produces insightful content that allows companies in an array of industries to increase their sales and make customers happy.

The Chat Shop are Real People, that deliver Real Results through Real Conversations. In-depth website analysis and highly trained agents empower them to generate qualified leads, increase conversion and create outstanding customer experiences with live chat.