You’ve done the hard work and attracted a visitor to your website. Even better, they’ve made a purchase or considered a future purchase of your product. What do you do next?
Most business owners focus the vast majority of their marketing on acquisition, or bringing in those new customers, and they forget about keeping the customers they do attract happy. This mistake can hinder business growth substantially.
In the United States, a whopping 40% of revenue comes from returning or repeat purchases, which represent only 8% of visitors. This means a small fraction of your happiest customers can make up a big chunk of your business. So how do you keep them happy? Here are four places to start that have a big impact on customer retention.
1. Transparent Return Policy
People care about return policies. In fact, 67% of customers check the return policy before making a purchase and 92% of customers will make a future purchase from a business if returns are easy. So create a simple, no-frills return policy. It’s a great trust signal and an easy way to keep customers happy.
A strong return policy should answer these common questions:
- What items can be returned? What items can’t be returned?
- How long will you accept returns after purchase?
- Who pays for return shipping?
- Are refunds in cash or store credit?
- Is there an international policy? (Can you afford to do this for international customers? Think about what you can do realistically and be clear about international customer expectations)
Creating a return policy doesn’t mean you have to accept returns on all items, it just means setting an upfront statement on your limits. Since return policy browsing is often part of the consideration process before a sale, make sure the policy is easy to find. You could try displaying it on a separate FAQ page or within the shopping cart during checkout (many merchants do both!). Akin & Co has a great return policy, with policy limitations and expectations laid out in clear language. They even turned the policy into a separate customer service page featured directly on the main navigation, so customers can find and reference the return information without digging around the website.
2. Personalized Emails
After you make a sale, use basic email marketing personalization to give your customers a dose of exclusivity. 41% of consumers say they buy more from a business that sends them personalized emails based on previous actions.
To get started with email personalization, make sure you collect an email at checkout (standard eCommerce practice these days) and be prepared to do more with it than simple transactional receipt and order emails.
Armed with customer emails and sales dates, set up an email marketing campaign that sends customers a 30% coupon 30 days after the first purchase. Follow that up with an email a few weeks later that contains recommendations for products similar to previous purchases. Better yet, conduct an exclusive sale only for current customers or a product unreleased to the public that only they can buy. Send an email with the link to purchase the product directly and make sure they understand it’s only for them!
Coupon email from Dang Shades
Always be respectful of customer inboxes (don’t send seven emails in the first week) and the creepy factor (does a birthday email make sense or does that cross the line?) Everyone likes to feel exclusive and connected to a business. Leverage basic data about your customer (name, favorite products, price sensitivity) to send them the right offers and announcements at exactly the right time.
3. Be Responsive on all Channels
Nearly half of U.S. consumers use social media to ask questions, report satisfactions, or to complain. Customers who have questions want quick answers on the channel they are most comfortable with. If you have a Facebook or Twitter presence make sure you are there to answer. You can use tools like Sprout or Buffer to manage and answer customer support questions on social media.
Also, live chat apps on your site can be incredibly powerful for “in the moment” interactions. 45% of consumers will leave your website if their questions are not answered quickly, so live chat can become a workhorse for customer happiness. There’s a Facebook chat app that can be embedded directly on your website, combining social and live chat tools together. You can use the Facebook chat app to capture both live questions from visitors on your site and interact with customers on the world’s most popular social network. Docking Drawer uses several chat tools, including an app called Pure Chat, which waits to address customer queries at the bottom of all Docking Drawer’s website pages.
4. Streamlined Checkout
Customer loyalty begins with the very first experiences on your website. If you mess up these initial interactions, you’ll have a tough time making both the primary sale and every sale afterward. In addition to strong web design, clear navigation and clear messaging, an amazing customer experience requires a streamlined checkout.
Customers won’t want to buy things from you again if it took them 20 minutes of puzzle solving to buy a product from your online store. In the United States, 27% of online shoppers have abandoned an order because of a complicated checkout process.
So keep it simple, like The Woven Home, which does an amazing job with a slick checkout experience.
Everything you need is available and easy to navigate from the single checkout page. The cart even updates and tracks as you fill out sections. A smooth checkout like this helps with the first sale and trickles down to every future interaction because customers will remember how easy it was to purchase the first time.
These are just a few of the many elements you can work on to keep customers happy. Luckily, there is a common theme amongst all customer retention and loyalty efforts: The best way to keep customers happy is to add value in every interaction. Everything you do should enrich the customer experience. Consumers get savvier every day, and they can tell when you’re simply trying to sell or push them into something. Bring value first, and watch your new customers become your best customers.