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We all know why we shop online. For one, the convenience just can’t be beat. Why sit through traffic, deal with crowded parking lots, compete with fellow shoppers and wait in long lines when you can shop from the comfort of your own couch? Record numbers of shoppers are opting for convenience over chaos, spending an estimated 375 million hours shopping online in December 2012 alone.
We recently published the restults of our in-depth Connecting with Customer survey outlining key areas of the online retail process that make the ‘ideal online experience’. I’d like to share how to take survey insights and turn them into four manageable actions that will result in increased conversions, fewer returns, and more loyal customers.
Letting customers choose how they want to seek help is essential -- 59% of consumers want more ways to connect with brands when they need help. Adopting a one-sized-fits-all approach to service doesn’t do your customers any favors. Some customers want the immediacy of live chat, while others may simply want a telephone number or an email address. It’s all about giving the customer what they want, when they want it, to prevent them from shopping elsewhere. Are you offering your customers more than one way to get in touch? If not, first on your list should be to evaluate how you can effectively provide additional connection options to your customers.
Connecting with your customers online in a successful way is all about timing. Just like the in-store shopping experience, if you pounce on someone as soon as they walk in they’re more than likely feel a little ambushed. However, if leave them wandering on their own for too long, five minutes seems to be about the maximum acceptable wait time, and they’ll simply give up and go elsewhere. Another key element when it comes to timing is doing whatever necessary to resolve a customer question in as few transactions as possible. This is good for both the retailer, from an efficiency and resources perspective, and the customer, from a quality of service perspective. Providing the right help at the right time is a careful balance, but one that the retailer must get right to be successful in the online marketplace.
A key component in great online service is making sure you are providing consumers with the information they need to complete the buying process. For example, understanding that a leading reason for cart abandonment is encountering unexpected delivery costs (70%), retailers can determine how to better display shipping options, or create customer-friendly promotions offering shipping discounts to entice buyers to proceed with their purchase. Additionally, retailers can get creative in how they provide product information and descriptions. Consider adding customer generated product reviews or perhaps video product demonstrations to help customers be informed, ultimately leading to a buying decision.
Mobile commerce is a topic we keep coming back to here on the Connected Customer blog, and it’s no surprise given the exploding trends we’re seeing due to the increasing variety of available mobile devices; more retailers providing apps or mobile sites; and the innovative engagement opportunities being created for mobile shoppers. Today, consumers expect to be able to access their favorite retailers through their mobile. From product research to purchase, mobile is being accessed at every point in the buying process-- as many as one in four consumers are even using mobile while shopping in-store for product information or assistance. If you haven’t started building a mobile strategy, now is the time to do so in order to gain a competitive advantage.
To learn more about consumer expectations, click to view The Ideal Online Experience Infographic depicting some of our recent findings: