How visual customer care is indispensable in offering the ultimate online in-store shopping experience
We are living in memorable times and that is especially true for the e-commerce sector. COVID-19 has accelerated both the rate of e-commerce penetration and sales growth in virtually every category, obviously except tourism and events. So, you need to focus on customer care.
This unprecedented online growth brought retailers both opportunities and challenges. Some products are mostly bought in physical stores – people have the urge to touch, feel, or see them in real life. With practically every part of everyday life moving online these products needed to be sold online as well. How do you create a realistic in-store shopping experience online?
Why recreate in-store experiences online?
Consumers have become used to the endless advantages of e-commerce. Unlimited offering, attractive pricing, free shipping and returns… Reality has made customer expectations high -very high indeed-. The current e-commerce market is filled with many, very demanding consumers buying online. This has one unavoidable result: you have to step up your game and get it all right otherwise, you’ll never see those clients again. But how do you exactly raise one’s game?
Easy, you make sure you fuel your customer expectations by catering the best customer experience online. The reality is that online shopping is not just about the product anymore, rather it is about the extras you offer your customers to make their whole buying experience as marvelous and smooth as possible – before, during and after purchases have been made.
You have to give customers something that no one else can; you have to offer them a great experience that narrows, as much as possible, the gap between offline and online shopping. In other words: get customers the best of both worlds, the customer service of brick and mortar -proximity and personalised attention, instant interaction and visually rich experience- with the convenience and fast pace of online shopping.
What do good online in-store shopping experiences have in common?
If we take a closer look at online shops that are doing it right, we’ll quickly notice some similarities. Here are two examples, can you tell the resemblance?
Kave Home is a (mostly) online furniture brand that uses customer service as a principal revenue generator. The furniture store is active online in more than 80 countries, and offers a visual customer service where customers can be guided through every step of the purchasing process.
How, you may ask? Using Oct8ne’s live chat solution, where agents can show real-time photos and videos of the furniture, and customers can video call sales agents in order to get a live tour of the showroom. That way, customers have the ultimate in-store experience online, one that is super interactive and personalized. The result? The conversion rate of customers who contact customer service via chat is now 10 to 12 times higher.
Omoda personal shopper is another remarkable example. The fashion accessories brand offers personal styling advice. Customers are given tailor-made styling advice by means of a virtual tour of the shop. Shoppers can schedule an online appointment via the webshop. They can choose between Facetime, WhatsApp video calling or Google Hangout.
Did you find the common ground? Exactly, both examples are fueled by interactive technology and are operated by real people, allowing the online shopping experience to have the personal human touch that is often missing in e-commerce.
Customer care: the human touch in e-commerce
The idea you may have had of customer service before stumbling across this blog, was probably that of the “after-sales service”; you know, the usual “where is my product?” and “please send me my return label”. Well, I don’t have to tell you that this is no longer the case, since customer care has evolved from being only a request solving tool that was viewed as a cost center burden by many, to an increasingly more important channel that benefits your overall business.
Think about it, investing in a good in-store experience customer care will, for sure, reduce returns, since one of the main reasons why a client would return something is because they had different expectations of the product. That can be easily solved by explaining what the product actually consists of and how to use it, if necessary, in order to make sure the customer knows exactly what they are buying and whether it fits their expectations.
At the same time, it will also generate revenue pre-sales, just as when giving customers guidance and help in real life, where the shop assistant would tell you “ask me if you need anything”. That way, customers will also appreciate the proximity online and be more prone to buying from your website.
Lastly, a good customer experience online is also going to make sure customers return for more. Research shows that an astonishing 91% of customers say they will use a website more often after a positive service experience, and 66% of people will actually switch to the competitor’s website if they are treated in an impersonal manner. These and more stats can be found in the Salesupply Ecommerce Customer Care Guide 2021.
What the perfect customer service has to offer
In order to take advantage of the many benefits a good and humane customer experience can give, make sure your customer service complies with all the criteria mentioned below – or partner up with a specialised e-commerce customer services provider.
- Be available. Online shopping is mostly about convenience, and people buy at all times, meaning you also have to be there for them at all times, even if that means “weekend” or “outside office hours”. Extend your availability and be there for your customers when they actually need you to.
- Via multiple channels. This is also essential, since not all clients like contacting you the same way or have the same needs; for instance, let’s say a customer is trying to find a certain type of bag shape, how are you going to manage via phone? You need to be able to send each other links and photos, and for that you might need some kind of live chat that is interactive enough.
- Be knowledgable and empathic. You want your customer service team to have a wide knowledge of your products and also be empathetic and show a tone of voice that perfectly reflects your brand and how your customers perceive you.
What technology looks like in the perfect customer service environment
In order for you to have a good customer care department and therefore to be able to provide an online in-store shopping experience, your technology and tools need to go along with the following features:
- Easy to use interface that will make reaching with the customer team experience super intuitive and easy.
- Interaction needs to be instant, you wouldn’t make customers wait for hours in real life so why would you online?
- Both words as well as images and videos are indispensable to make online shopping feel like a real in-store experience. You need to be able to show customers about the products you are talking about and vice versa: show, don’t explain.
- A tool that helps the customer reach the product/checkout page immediately and doesn’t require them to go through the entire process after the chat/call with the store. Otherwise, they might think it is all clear whilst you are explaining them, but once they hang up, might get lost or forget about what you told them and end up leaving.
In conclusion, giving customers an in-store experience is crucial to keep them coming back to us nowadays. And in order to achieve that, narrowing the gap between offline and online is mandatory. Remember, customer care can be your next big revenue generator because taking good care of your clients will make a difference for them, and therefore also for you.