A few weeks ago, WWD published an article called “Customer Service, Getting Back to Basics“, discussing the importance of omni-channel service efforts for fashion retailers; merging the customer service strategy of the online and the offline to streamline a cohesive experience.
The article was smart and perhaps timely, as e-commerce has been steadily growing, causing companies to spend a lot of time creating and polishing their social media platform strategy at the expense of their in-store strategies. However, it got to me to thinking about whether or not brands are truly considering customer service online, the way they do offline. Are brands focusing on the Customer Service Content of their online store?
I hear so much about User Experience but to me that misses the point. Referring to a potential customer as a user immediately diminishes the warm rapport you should be building. Instead, think of your potential customer as a guest; a guest in your own little corner of the internet, your shop.
Once you start thinking of the people who visit your e-commerce shop as guests, you will naturally start to treat them that way. What happens when you have a guest in your home? You greet them with a smile, offer them an iced tea or a hot cup of coffee, give them a seat, turn on some music, put out some snacks, and chat with them about their lives.
Brick and mortar retail stores have long thought of their shops as a place to welcome potential and returning customers. The good ones have, at least. And online retailers need to make sure that they treat their stores the same way they would if they had front doors.
Here are some things that e-tailers need to consider when creating a welcoming space for their guests:
- A smiling face: though your guests may not be able to see a smile when they land on your home page, your tone and your voice should be warm and welcoming.
- An emotional tie: grab them from the start with an image that evokes positive emotion and your guests naturally will want to get to know you better.
- Newness and change: Just like when we meet with friends for drinks, our best experiences are when our friend has an exciting new story to tell, big news, or an amazing circumstance to share. Constant stimulation is one important way to maintain and build relationships.
- Culture and story: We tend to be drawn to people who aren’t scared to stand for something, share their feelings, and let their points of view and beliefs come through in life. Why should it be different with a company? Your company’s overall culture should come through in your content.
- Entertainment: This is pretty straightforward. Boring people don’t have many friends. Neither do boring companies.
- Knowledgeable and helpful: Friendships are often built when people forget about themselves and are open, honest, and helpful to those around them. As a company, think about how you can make suggestions, share information, and give your opinion to your guest. Make them feel loved.
- Tailoring responses: When a friend asks for help, you would never give him or her a blanket statement or general response about the situation. (At least I hope you wouldn’t). Don’t do that with your website guests, either. When you’re being “knowledgeable and helpful,” make sure you’re giving individual attention; making your guest feel important and heard.
The key to creating customer service content is not concentrating so much on the sale, but creating a space that first and foremost takes into consideration your guests’ overall experience. Make them feel welcome and loved, like a guest in your home, and they’ll want to return.