Business who are 100% online have a nice list of advantages over off/online businesses – they have full control over the shopping experience. No part time employees to train. No brick and mortar rent to pay. No ability for an angry customer experience to negatively impact other people who happen to be in the same space at the same time. You don’t get off so easily, however.
The 100% online business has it harder in this regard: there’s no place for the customer to go when they need to return an item. No face-to-face interaction to have. No chance for you to inject your personality into this negative experience and make them love you even more. No ability for you to turn that return into an exchange. No way for you to become a trusted source of recommendations.
What is the online business to do?
We’ve moved past simply cutting your margins so you can have the upper hand on price. Now, you have to take into consideration a few key “offline” touchpoints that are make it or break it moments for your online shoppers.
Perceived Value Drives The Recommendation
Even when there is no salesperson there to make you love your purchase and business that much more, online shoppers can still click “submit order” and believe that they got great value. Value in this case is the combination of feeling great about what you just bought and not caring that you can get it for 5% less somewhere else.
Customers who feel great about their purchases are exponentially more likely to recommend you to their friends based on their positive experience. You may be surprised at how many online shoppers fall into this category. Below are a few ways that online businesses have successfully established high “perceived value” at a premium:
- Taking the risk out of online shopping – Zappos offers free shipping and free returns for 365 days
- Tying your business model to a meaningful cause – Soap Hope donates 100% of its profits to women in poverty
- Bringing the community together in an integrated and user-friendly way – TurboTax‘s integrated live online user community
- Inject personality into your online brand with an unmistakable voice – Ruelala and their high personality Tweeters
Unwrong Mistakes Gracefully
The only real chance you have to establish a relationship with your customer when you are 100% online is when something goes wrong and they need help from you to make it right. Executing this gracefully can win hearts and minds over.
Ultimately, your online experience needs to be one that provides more than a transaction. Give your customers a reason to talk about you, and they will. My question for you is – when your customers reach out, are you arms wide open, or do you put up every wall imaginable to avoid confrontation?
Next, we’ll discuss Customer Experience Truth #14 – B2C And B2B Customer Experience Management Programs Are Very Different, But Still Fundamentally The Same.