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Enhancing your customers' website experience

By Staff

There are a number of different aspects of your website and online business that can factor into the level of success you experience with consumers, regardless of your target audience. While many online retailers and stores tend to think of their websites in relation to how it can assist them as businesspeople, the most successful consider their sites in terms of how it can more successfully assist the customer. And, as most salesmen know, a satisfied customer is more likely to buy initially and return to the business again and again. Take a look at your site – are you focused on your needs or the needs of your customers? If you’re uncertain, there are several areas you can examine and modify to help you make the most of your web space.

Most online consumers go online as a diversion from work, home, and many other areas of stress in their lives. They’re looking for sources of diversion and amusement, not new business prospects. Is your site structured to keep a visitor entertained? Try adding trivia or short, simple, silly quips to product descriptions and informative passages. While many visitors tend to skim text, adding sharp, witty writing can engage them and thereby inform them further about your company’s goals and products. By interspersing more “creative” writing with well-organized data pertaining to the products, you can educate your customers more quickly. This, of course, leads to shorter turnaround time for purchases. These little additions can also serve to increase word-of-mouth as especially funny or unusual facts tend to be repeated to friends and family.

The development of this close rapport with your customers can also be enhanced through the ease with which they can communicate with you. Online customers typically shop online to avoid the additional person-to-person contact required when shopping in malls or stores, so it is vital to provide an effective means of communicating with customer service without requiring immediate contact. This also addresses the discomfort some consumers feel in speaking with a professional customer service representative who may rush them or, even worse, make them feel stupid. The use of email lessens the possibility both through allowing the customer to collect his or her thoughts before sending a message and allowing the representative to spend more time answering the inquiry.

That said, your site’s organization should lessen customers’ need for service as substantially as possible. Compose your pages in a manner that helps visitors find what they need as quickly as possible. Each minute spent searching your site for their desired purchase is a minute closer to frustration, which also makes it a minute closer to when the customer gives up and heads to your competitors’ sites. Make sure the information that is important and relevant to purchasers is immediately available and requires as few clicks as possible.

Playing into that is the online shopper’s need to feel in control. As discussed above, the Internet is a means for avoiding the excessive contact required in shopping at physical store locations, the worst of which is a used car lot. The last thing an online consumer wants to feel is pressure, so eliminate any possible avenues for that feeling. Information about the products should be presented in a helpful tone and returning customers should be able to easily access pages and products that interested them previously. Think of it in terms of a woman shopping for a cocktail dress: while she may visit 50 different stores in search of the dress, she wants to be able to easily walk back into any of those 50 stores and find one of her previous prospects, not have to describe the dress to a clerk who retrieves it from a back room. As an online business, you walk a fine line between encouraging impulse buys and pressuring a customer to the extent that he or she decides the neighboring store is more worthwhile.

Online consumers are also web-savvy – they know there’s a plethora of information about nearly anything and everything online, and they know where to find it. Don’t let them surf away from your site just because they didn’t find everything they needed from your store! Provide tools for evaluating the merits of your products against the competitors’; not providing them actually encourages your potential customers to visit similar sites, which can result in the impulse to buy striking while they are on a competing site rather than your own.  Becoming intimately familiar with your competitors’ sites can only work to your benefit. Study how they attract and keep customers and use some of these tactics to inspire you in your own business.


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