Knowledge Is Power
This works both ways. Today, customers have a massive advantage at their fingertips with the ability to search for pretty much anything they want online, whether that’s a product they want to buy, or a brand they want to research. On the other hand, businesses have similar advantages in having access to the information that can determine who their customers are.
Do you know who your customers are? Selling online doesn’t work for everyone. Competition in many industries is fierce, so understanding the mindset of YOUR customers is super-necessary.
What’s Your Problem?
What problems do your customers have? How can you fix their problems for them? A quick service? Discounted prices? Convenient options?
Why do your customers need your product or service?
Your product or service serves a purpose. Features are great, specifications are important, but what your customers really need to see (without having to search for it) is the benefits your product or service can offer and how you can fulfil their needs. Why is your product or service better? That’s the first thing your customers should be made aware of when they begin their journey with you.
It’s Been Emotional…
Customers make purchases based on emotion; when you consider who your customers are, it goes far beyond married men between the ages of 35 – 65. You’ve got Sarah Smith, she’s got two young children, she works and has a decent household income, has a cat and a rabbit, and enjoys a glass of wine in the evening. Sarah is busy; she’s received your email with your awesome offer, but she doesn’t have the time or care to read it. She’s shopping online for convenience because she needs your product or service for the best price, quickly, and without hassle. She wants the benefits she deserves, so what does Sarah do? Quick search, quick comparison, check reviews before making purchase… and depending on the outcome: she’ll buy or move on.
When you can visualise who your customers are you can reach out to them. Find your common ground and tap in to the emotion of the situation.
What Do Customers Want?
Customers have the power to search. This means they won’t just pay £49.99 because you tell them that’s how much your product or service is worth; they’ll compare. In the power of search also comes the ability for customers to read reviews. Customers that read reviews may change their mind about buying your product or service because Jenny from Swansea said your product or service didn’t solve her problems.
- CONVENIENCE – if it’s not easy, it’s not going to happen.
- The best price / deal – if your product or service costs more, what problems does it solve that makes it worth more?
- To be satisfied by other people’s opinions and / or reviews.
- Familiarity – brands = confidence and trust. Understanding your customers and marketing opportunities can establish your brand in the minds of your converting customers.
- Rewards – Sarah bought your product or service and was super happy with her purchase. Now, she’s thinking about buying another product or service, but she wants something to encourage her to return to you; exclusive discount, promotions, membership…
The Rise Of The Review
Reviews are everywhere; not just on your website. Social media outlets mean that your product or service will be reviewed everywhere and anywhere. It means it’s easy for customers to vent their options, and it means it’s simple for potential customers to make their minds up about you be that positive or negative.
It seems to be the norm nowadays to spend an exceptional amount of time searching through other people’s opinions. Customers want reassurance from fellow shoppers that the purchase they are going to make has lived up to expectations. This mindset is not something that is new; we have always asked the opinion of others, but the extent of information has evolved dramatically with the ability to research online, which enables us to search reviews on pretty much anything.
Exceeding a customer’s expectations can guarantee a positive online review, but how can you achieve this? We’re back to the emotion again. Looking into mindset and understanding your customers’ expectations can win custom and gain their loyalty – solve the problem.
Every experience should be personal to each and every customer. When your customer makes a purchase, you can’t simply forget about them. A simple ‘thank you’ email, survey, or reward to return as a customer in the future can make all the difference. It’s important your customers know you’re there, especially if they have any aftercare issues or queries following a purchase.
Online reviews are today’s ‘word of mouth’ and can impact whether a new customer makes a purchase with you. Searching for reviews is high on the agenda for many online shoppers and is the introduction, in many cases, that you will have. If reviews reflect positively on your company, or product / service, a customer will take these opinions on board, feel positive towards making the purchase, and will be more likely to continue.
So, why do customers leave reviews? The main reason would be to help others, thank a company if they are fully satisfied, or to express negative feelings to prevent someone having the same experience.
How Do Negative Reviews Affect Sales?
It won’t come as a shock that a negative review will cause hesitation. If other customers have not built up trust after their experience, then what chance would someone have looking to make a purchase?
“88% have been influenced by an online customer service review when making a buying decision.”ZenDesk
A negative online review can have an adverse effect on business and in turn make customers decide against making their purchase with you. If you find yourself in a situation where you have negative reviews; what can you do?
- Respond as promptly as possible; keeping someone in a negative mindset and waiting will only add to the problem.
- Make any responses personal. Let them know you have taken time out to look at the situation and are not adding a generic reply.
- Highlight what you have achieved for the customer and be consistent. Do this in a way to let them (and anyone reading) know that you have ‘tried’ to fulfil their needs and redeem the situation.
It’s important to remember that customers don’t always realise the importance of reviews. For example, Sarah might well be super happy with absolutely everything, but she’s not the type to be over-excited and might think an 8/10 review is being generous. Don’t be afraid to ASK for a 5* review if you’ve earned it; if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
It’s critical that online reviews are positive and this relies on every individual customers experience being as positive as possible. Let your customers know you’re with them throughout, and after, whether they are happy or not – always aim to finish on a high.