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Reading duration: 9 minutes
Inside: Guidelines and real examples!
It’s all about IoT, our world has turned online. Not to say mobile. 🙂
When your brand and products are being communicated, let alone sold online, having a superb standard of communication is key.
Communication level is still a differentiator today, but I assume it won’t stay this way for long. Superb customer communications will become mandatory at any moment.
Not only does quality customer communication helps your business gain trust, loyalty and brand equity, it can also mean the difference between someone abandoning the shopping cart (hate this phenomena), or completing the purchase and later on, coming back for more.
Working in the eCommerce industry, and at Bontact specifically, I have had to practice customer communication a lot. I have had to run a lot of trial and error and pilot many tactics. Once I realized that a certain activity, or a sort of working method has managed to boost conversions (in the short run or long run) I make sure to enroll it across the entire company, update my team, and train our customers.
I have decided to share some insights and practices with you.
By the way, you don’t have to be a ‘traditional’ eCommerce player to gain value from reading this article. My advice is as relevant for, any online business, such as service providers, vendors and alike.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
Don’t worry, you’re not nagging! Keep the conversation going.
We are all too self-judgmental. Well, at least I know I am. I care too much before I talk, I think about the how, where, when, who and what etc.
I’m sometimes too self-judgmental when I am doing sales and marketing too. Not always but a lot. The result can lead to my brand being too quiet, shy, or polite.
While other brands bombard me with emails, push messages, SMSs and god knows what else, I can get slightly uncomfortable, from time to time, when there are too many interactions. But that’s about it. No major catastrophe.
Most other people I know behave the same.
What am I trying to say? Online businesses should be bullish from time to time, as long as they measure the impact and see if it’s worth it. Don’t let your concerns shut you out.
Be bullish (from time to time) and measure the impact.
Our prospects have several options when it comes to almost every product or service.
In the online era, it’s very easy to “walk out” of an eCommerce store, or a website.
Online businesses know they don’t have as much time to keep customers engaged as in the physical stores.
So what can you do about it? Proactively interact with visitors and keep the conversation going. I know that many pros warn online businesses about being too intrusive, but the following examples offer non-intrusive alternatives:
Live, online customer service.
Instead of adding an intrusive chat popup (burst technique), you can use online communication solutions with a UX that is both gentle and proactive. I have seen a couple of examples for floating icons, that “dance” from time to time, to remind you that there’s someone waiting to help you, in case you need.
Some solutions offer a way to add a profile image and details of the available rep, a “live support” indicator (to differentiate them from virtual agents).
Bontact (that’s us) offer multiple apps for the visitor to choose from (like Facebook messenger, Viber, WhatsApp, WeChat, Line, SMS, Skype etc.) – Including so many personal communication apps shows visitors that this business is out there, ready to support them as needed, and not hiding behind general email addresses and tedious contact forms.
Since you can’t hold still until you hear more about our unique solution, here’s a quick access time loop hall to our signup:
Just like in the physical world, it’s important to say hello and “smile” online.
A great solution can be found in Chatbots. I am sure by now and being in this industry, you are familiar with chatbots. Shortly, chatbots will be replacing websites and mobile apps menus, through natural chat experience (only there’s a bot behind the scenes, not a human being).
Read more: What are chatbots?
Chatbots are so easy, simple, friendly, and natural to use, that they encourage people to seek support. Brands that add bots to their online customer service are perceived as being very proactive and as having high service standards. Bots can aid visitors with soft selling support, directing them to the next stage of the process and so forth. This tool can also make things easier.
Chatbots haven’t been rolled out across the board, so there’s still more time to prepare. But chatbots are coming and soon it will be weird if they’re not around (just like it’s weird if a brand has no website). So, to avoid being the weirdo, do some reading up on chatbots, and look for relevant solution providers, you may want to implement down the road.
Let’s talk pre and post-sale.
As business owners or marketers, we tend to get stuck on KPI’s and just encourage sales. We have all done it at some point, we celebrate the sale and move on to the next one, or we give up on ‘sleeping users’. But sometimes we forget the importance of continuing the conversation with our customers. Or perhaps we are too shy.
I’ve been talking to LinkedIn reps lately, working with them on an interesting awareness and performance campaign for a company I am helping. They mentioned that they had run research and found out that an average prospect needs to see 6-10 different messages or content pieces before acting. So we should start working on various content we will include in the campaign (special offers, invites to get a product demo, thought leader articles, signup leads forms and alike).
It feels right to me.
So, I am very focused on analyzing both sales and marketing funnels, not only investing in customer communications related to direct sales, but also put effort into pre and post-sale. I focus on customer retention as another goal.
it’s just another way to differentiate in this world of endless possibilities.
Here are some examples to inspire you:
- For prospects who didn’t complete the purchase, you can add a popup (or an email if you have their details) – Saying “not ready to buy yet? Maybe you’d want this free guide, recipe book, kitchen jokes book, jewelry quiz (or any of your market related content that is free, can make them feel satisfied and can encourage them to signup).
“Not ready to go the whole way? Start with the free fun kitchen jokes book”
- What about paying visitors? Notify them about everything that happens behind the scenes: That their order is being processed, how they can contact you if they need anything (did I mention a solution that lets you add multiple communication apps? J), Let them know their product is on the way and warrantee T&Cs they need to be aware of. In general, take the extra mile, so they won’t need to. They will appreciate and remember it.
- Contact them after they have received their order or service (give them some time, of course) see if they are happy with it? Do they have any questions? Provide them with some helpful tips. And even ask for feedback. There’s a service provider (an aggregator, a sort of a marketplace for home service providers, such as moving services, electricians and alike) I am addicted to, only because every time I use their service and make an order, they bother to send an SMS, asking about the service and following this they call me!!! (Call, a voice, someone on the other line asking me how things went!). They turned me into a huge fan immediately after the first time. Now, there are so many similar services I keep seeing, but this brand continually sticks out from all others, because of their service, it’s as simple as that.
- Another example, a taxi ride service I am using. I love it when they let me know (push and SMS) everything about my driver, including their phone number so I can interact directly if needed. I love it when they send me an invoice over mail, so I don’t have to dig for it in the app menu. But, even they could improve: I had scheduled a taxi to the airport, and I received a message that more details will be shared with me closer to the pickup time. But, I was worried. Airport travel leaves no room for error and I didn’t understand if their “ok, wait for more info” after my booking meant that they are committed to locating a driver and showing up on time, no matter what.
I think the key is trust building – Trust is harder to give and get in the online world, it means we need to work harder to get it.
Another example I love talking about relates to ASOS (no, I don’t work with them in any way). Not only do I get an email confirming my purchase, I get an email saying it’s been dispatched and one when it’s almost here (often with a delivery time range). So I know that at any point the conversation is open, if I have questions or want to make changes. This is even before they are offering me free returns (which of course they give me the same love and attention as they did during the purchase)
Here’s how it looks
What about good old email?
I am not going to talk about If to use email, in this post. Email is an oldy but a goody and it’s still an excellent choice for contacting prospects. In fact, in the last three years, mobile email opens have grown by 180%. I will let you know when that changes.
Even more relevant to eCommerce, mobile email click-throughs grew 22.8 percent on Black Friday, we see that not only is email great for communicating with customers, it plays a significant role in performance marketing, aka increasing conversions.
The real question is how to be smart with email marketing? What can you do with email lists? What out-of -box techniques can you use to make sure your emails cut through the noise?
I’ll show you.
- Mobile. Mobile. Your sent emails will be opened via mobile devices in large scales. According to Live Clicker and The Relevancy Group, the biggest turnoffs people have with mobile email are: Receiving too many (44%), Not relevant (37%), Too small to read and interact with (32%), Website and landing pages not mobile optimized (26%) and Not well formatted for mobile phones (21%).
- In general email isn’t working as well, as emails that offer promotions or freebies. So yes, don’t be shy in using email marketing to promote a seasonal promo. Based on my experience, Just sending emails, telling people there is new stuff on your website isn’t an optimal message. I wouldn’t recommend it.
- Use sexy and interesting titles. I love using this FREE tool that’s designed to help you get inspired for blog article title ideas, It’s also valuable for email titles)
- Hi First name. You know that? Once upon a time someone came with the brilliant idea of sending a bulk email but still writing the customer’s name on top. Technology at the service of conversions. It was fun and surprising.
It’s no longer fun nor surprising. And there are still so many embarrassing bugs around it. So many times you just receive “Hi firstname,” (note to coders: Can’t you guys make a rule that a bulk email isn’t sent when the text string ‘Firstname is included’? Brilliant, ha?...)
Besides, some people use fake names on purpose. So you end up sending an email that starts with: “Hi Spam, Hello no emails” and alike.
My suggestion: The best emails I’ve ever received didn’t feel good due to the use of technology that’s automatically added my name. They were so great because they had a funny or interesting title, personal, an easy-going tone, and because they didn’t try to hide the fact it was automatic.
The rules that I follow when sending email:
- Title: must be relevant and both appealing
- Tone: Natural and informal
- Content: Real value included
- Structure: Important info first
- Design? Not at all necessarily. I love plain emails as well and they usually perform better, for me at least.
- Invite to reply (I do not use “No reply” emails. I find them insulting)
- Personal signature. This email is sent from a person. Not a team, not a department and you get the idea.
To conclude, you can find tons of business emails online examples (bulks and not bulk) to get inspired. Just run a google search “email examples” with your relevant keywords. Click here to learn more
Communicating with Customers over Facebook Messenger
There was a time where online social media didn’t exist. Can you believe it? Facebook was only born in 2004…
Today, I am not even sure, what’s not considered social media…
When it comes to online services and eCommerce, people are talking about social CRM, using social media as another channel to communicate and engage with prospects.
Many people prefer to interact with businesses through social media. It’s instant, fun and an informal way to get a reply.
Facebook now ranks your service quality. How genius. It lets you know how fast you respond to messages, and only when you’re fast enough you can turn your service badge on. They let you run your support via their professional business apps.
Facebook made businesses, perfect their level of service. Not only online businesses. All businesses.
Users, on the other hand got used to the easiness and speed of Facebook. Many of them turn to Facebook first.
Social media now provides good ways to measure your customer engagement such as post metrics and looking at who shared or engaged your material.
Since FB Messenger is one of the most popular social messaging app, let’s get specific and talk about what it can do for your business. Here are some hot tips for communicating on Facebook Messenger with your customers (these ones are on the house :))
- Share Messenger Codes. By doing this, customers can quickly and easily start a conversation with your business.
- Promote Private Messaging Links. Another great way for clients to simply click on the link and come straight to a conversation with you, over messenger. This makes things easy, isn’t that what it’s often about for customers?
- Auto-Reply with Messenger Greetings. This can be set up for first time visitors/conversations. It can be a welcome message and in some cases a courtesy privacy reminder to say: don’t share your private information over this message. Either way getting a personalized message, can make your customers feel appreciated, attended to and help build trust.
- As long as you can support the intensity, run Facebook messenger ads. Potential customers will be directed to start a conversation through messenger.
Some business communication solutions can help you integrate FB messenger in your CRM and let your teams respond (or initiate messages) via Facebook messenger.
Did I mention that amazingly we do just that at Bontact? 🙂
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Pages
Customers tend to ask the same questions over and over. Having to answer them the same each time is why FAQ content and solutions were invented.
Customers are always looking for convenience and sometimes prefer not to vocalize their questions over email or phone. I personally prefer when my questions are answered in an FAQ section, we all want to stay under the radar sometimes ☺
Again, I will not be talking about why you should have FAQ content, I assume you know that. But, there are some little things that top players do and help increase user satisfaction, by FAQ:
- When visitors (us) seek help, we rather talk to someone real. People don’t usually prefer starting with FAQ. Some popular online businesses run FAQ flows, seamlessly, when visitors ask for customer service, without asking them to proactively opt in to the FAQ flow. They simply ask them to start filling out a form (asking about the problem) and during the process they present relevant FAQ and the answers.
- I’ve seen others that planted jokes, interesting facts and weird, crazy questions all along their FAQ, making the experience fun and interesting.
Accessibility and Availability is Key
Today, people are constantly on the move. They use different means of communication to remain in touch, they even like to switch between platforms. Top players are adapting accordingly.
For instance, I’m more likely to answer (or start) a text or a WhatsApp conversation, than any other channel when I’m busy. Your customers are probably no different.
They all have their preferences when it comes to communication. Some like texting, others use only voice, others like Viber, or WeChat, and the list goes on.
When customers feel that they can communicate with you on a personal level, in a way that they are most comfortable with, they are more likely to want to talk to you, trust you more, purchase more, and tell more of their friends.
Once, we had only mail. Then we had phone. Then came email. Then SMS. Now… endless messaging apps.
Closing the loop – Easy back office, even with multiple apps
So now that you’ve taken the step of implementing as many channels as possible, You might be have operational issues? There are many solutions to support you with that. And the prices are lower than expected.
Bontact is only one example which offers, besides the multi apps customizable widget, a back office unified data dashboard (or data flow to any of your CRM), allowing:
- Integrate so many apps and communication services at once, with no need to add service provider’s implementations.
- Sales people use their business decks for interacting with customers via each channel.
- Initiate an interaction with prospects via the apps that suits them most. Some will get an email, some will get SMS, others will get Facebook messenger messages and some, will get it all.
- Your marketers collect valuable data (such as phone numbers) they can later on use for remarketing purposes and more.
- Users toggle between channels within a single interaction (move from SMS to voice when they start driving, for instance).
- Add voice to the blend, without encountering heavy service fees.
I am sure you can search more for similar solutions.
At the end of the day …
Things keep changing. And businesses keep adapting. The fighters pave the way and adapt quicker than the others.
The late bloomers join the party sometimes when it’s too late, losing the opportunity to piggyback on technological trends.
Which one are you?