Even though buyers have changed the way they make purchases, merchants are slow to change the way they sell their products and services. According to the business book by Kristin Zhivago, Roadmap to Revenue, not only are sellers missing out on vital sales but buyers are going without the information they need to make a purchasing decision, creating a disconnect between businesses and customers.
While retailers stand by as customers slip through their fingers, not enough is being done to discover why it’s happening and how customers can be convinced to stick around.
Below are four possible reasons your customers are drifting away and how you can lure them back:
1. You’re Not Listening to Your Customers
“Customers say one of the biggest reasons they’re turned off by a retailer,” says All Business, “is because they are ignored.” Whether they have made a recommendation on a particular product or service or they’ve filled out a survey on how a business can improve their customer service, consumer feedback is falling on deaf ears.
“…with all the data companies collect about their customers, businesspeople often don’t listen to some of the most obvious feedback provided.”
Customers won’t tolerate being ignored for long. Instead, they’ll gravitate to another retailer who will appreciate what they have to say, and take their feedback to heart. Sadly, more than half of customers are saying their feedback isn’t being taken seriously, according to All Business, which is one of the biggest barriers to a successful customer / brand relationship.
Customer feedback isn’t a task you should put at the bottom of a pile, outsource to another company, or pawn off to an intern because it’s one of the most important components of a business’s success.
Treat it like the valuable commodity it is by sharing the feedback you receive with the appropriate company channels:
“Many…companies…gather customer feedback only through sales channels, missing important insights from users and influencers…[and] many companies don’t have the culture to loop customer feedback through the front line to improve behavior or connect it to innovation.”
Try to gain as much insight into your customers’ attitudes as soon as possible after gathering feedback so you can use this information to not only improve the products and services you sell but also learn how to enhance the customer experience and exceed expectations.
Remember…customer feedback offers a direct line of communication with your customer, giving you a “heads up” if they’re not happy with the products or services you’re delivering before you lose their business. By really listening to what your customers have to say, you’ll demonstrate that you have your finger on the pulse while conveying your dedication to keeping them happy.
2. You’re Creating Purchase Barriers
In most cases, there are far too many steps customers must take to find the information they need or buy the product they want, suggests Roadmap to Revenue author, Kristin Zhivago. Unfortunately, most websites are “designed to serve the seller’s needs, not the buyer’s.”
“Clean and simple navigation is essential to website success. Visitors to your site should be able to find what they are looking for quickly, from any page. Don’t make people dig for information—because they won’t. They’ll give up. The more intuitive your site is the better. Don’t let cleverness or visual imagination keep people from understanding how your site is organized.”
Source: Eleventy Marketing Group
The same goes for your physical store location, if you have one. Your retail establishment should provide the customer with a clean, organized, easy-to-navigate environment, with helpful, professional-looking associates and a streamlined checkout process.
A flashy website or complex store layout might appear chick and trendy, but it’s relatively useless if customers are unable to locate the information or products they’re searching for.
“Many retailers are putting up barriers to purchase and turning customers off without even realizing it. Even something as simple as uninformed sales associates or a broken link on a website can be enough to lose customers.”
Source: All Business
Think like a customer. Which ecommerce or retail stores do you enjoy shopping at and why? Do some research on what works and what doesn’t, then make sure your business website or store layout aligns with proven methods that will meet customer needs in the most efficient ways possible.
Additionally, evaluate your website or retail store to identify areas that need improvement—whether that means a new and improved navigation bar for your site or a new POS system for your brick and mortar shop—then invest in things that will make shopping a convenient and enjoyable experience for consumers.
If you make it easy for customers to find the information and products they’re looking for so they can make the purchases they want, they’ll not only spend more, they’ll stay loyal to your brand.
3. You’re Neglecting MultiChannel
Today, it’s common for most retailers to have a website that supports their brick-and-mortar store. But that’s just not enough anymore in a digital society that craves seamless, streamlined shopping experiences across multiple channels.
With 1.97 billion users worldwide frequently checking their social media profiles, plus abundant statistics on the benefits of using popular social media platforms, there is much to suggest that “marketers must invest more in social media marketing,” according to Convince & Convert.
Additionally, research shows that modern day consumers are more inclined to use the Internet to gather information—whether they’re using their smartphones to look for a retail store location or searching for products that are in stock—before they make a purchase.
Despite the fact that mobile is driving a sizable chunk of website traffic these days, “…too many websites are still not optimized for mobile.” says Eleventy Marketing Group. “This is no longer an option, people, it’s essential.”
To keep customers from wandering off into competitor territory, it is vital that your business website is both easy to find and easy to navigate so that consumers can quickly get the information they need about your brand. Not only should your site include essential information to help consumers locate your retail store, it should also contain updated inventory items so that customers can find the products they want before paying a visit your physical location.
Getting involved with social media will further help you connect and engage with consumers on a personal level, providing more opportunities for building relationships, harvesting customer feedback, and increasing sales.
Additionally, making sure your website is optimized for mobile, with a responsive platform that adapts to fit the screen sizes of the various electronic devices consumers are using, will ensure that pages are presented in a viewer friendly version on cell phones, iPads etc. When your website is responsive, it creates a better browsing and shopping experience for consumers who expect to find what they want fast in mobile searches.
As Ecommerce Platforms points out, Multichannel shopping is designed to provide customers with a seamless, comfortable, and efficient service across all platforms, allowing consumers to shop when and how it is convenient for them.
4. You Don’t Reward Loyalty
Sometimes businesses are so focused on acquiring new customers, they forget about one of their most valuable assets…existing customers. Research shows that customer loyalty programs are one of the reasons consumers switch to and/or stick with a particular brand.
Furthermore, 70% of customers believe loyalty programs are part of their relationship with a company, and 73% of consumers believe that loyalty programs are a way for brands to show them how loyal they are to their customers.
If you’re not tossing out some loyalty love to your customers, they will start looking for other companies who are more willing to recognize and reward their loyalty appropriately. And because there are so many brands offering “first-time buyer” promos and discounts, there are a lot of tempting options out there for your customers to choose from.
It’s human nature for people to want to belong to a group, and customers are no different. So make your customers feel special by offering them special perks for purchases made at your store, or send them a “Thank you” note with a promo or discount code to an “insider’s sale.”
Offer convenient channels for customers to tell you what they’re thinking and how they’re feeling about your goods and services, then reward them for their valuable feedback and show them that you’re taking it seriously by improving your products or enhancing customer service methods.
Statistics continue to show that repeat—or loyal—customers are more likely to yield increased revenue and long-term success for your business. That’s why it’s imperative to evaluate how your business interacts with loyal customers and to implement strategies that will keep them coming back to your store.
In today’s competitive retail environment, “It’s simply not enough to just deliver results anymore,” says MarTech, “companies need to exceed expectations.”
The problem is, while buyers have changed the way they make purchases, merchants are slow to change their selling methods. In order for businesses to increase their revenue, they need to become more familiar with how modern buyers make purchases in today’s digital shopping environment.
Employing the strategies above will help you bridge the disconnect that is frustrating customers and provide them with convenient and enjoyable shopping experiences that exceed expectations and keep them coming back to your store again and again.
Also published on Medium.