Co-Authored By Rhiannon Herrmann, Clarus Commerce's Senior VP of Product and Operations
The successful link between a business and a customer is one of the most crucial areas of focus a retailer can have. In an age where customer touchpoints are more visible and instantaneous than any other time in our history, retailers have to be more responsive and malleable to the modern consumer. Creating an environment where a customer can easily and quickly get their problem solved is often the thin differentiator between a single-transaction shopper and one that keeps coming back. Especially in e-commerce, where the consumer and retailer never meet in a physical location, customer service is crucial in maintaining and retaining the most coveted type of customer—the loyal customer.
That loyalty comes with a lot of perks for retailers. By retaining that customer, companies reap a significant amount of financial benefits, especially in e-commerce, namely:
- On average, 40% of an e-commerce store’s revenue is created by 8% of its customers, so getting that customer to come back is key; and
- It is 7x more expensive to acquire a new customer than retain a loyal one; and
- A repeat customer has a 60-70% chance of going from initial interest to purchase, which is 9x more than a first-time customer; and
- Your loyal top 1% customers spend, on average, 5x more than your other 99% of customers
Given these numbers, it’s clear why keeping customers happy, and turning problems into solutions as quickly as possible, can turn a business into a clear winner in a competitive environment. With so many ways to help, here are some tips to aid in your quest to maximize revenue and build loyalty:
If Possible, Offer 24/7 Customer Service Support
While this may not be feasible for all businesses, 24/7 support offers your customers an avenue to solve their problem when it’s convenient for them. In an online retail environment, this communication line is of particular importance, since e-commerce stores never close. Sixty-seven percent of customers have hung up the phone out of frustration because they couldn’t reach a live human being to resolve their issue. If busy customers can’t contact your company when it’s convenient for them, then they’ll find someone else who will.
Always Use Customer Data and Complaints to Shape the Customer Experience
Shaping the customer experience is often a complicated process, which is constantly evolving. Consumer tastes change quickly, and that’s why utilizing customer complaints and feedback to your advantage is crucial to retaining a loyal customer. At our company, Clarus Commerce, we own and operate sites like FreeShipping.com and ShopSmarter.com, which are consumer-facing. Over the years, we’ve developed a quarterly brainstorming session called the “Voice of the Consumer.” In this meeting, we bring together multiple departments and discuss, analyze and solve for the most common customer complaints and requests. Gathering that critical data is essential to tailoring the customer experience, instead of keeping it a guessing game.
Keep Your Standards High and Your Response Times Low
A recent study showed that 15 percent of callers are likely to hang up a customer service call at around 40 seconds. With only a finite amount of time to connect and respond to your customers, retailers have to keep response times low, not only on the phone but at every touchpoint. Because of that fact, at Clarus, we answer 94% of our calls in 30 seconds or less, and we respond to emails 76.8% faster than the industry standard of 44 hours. Resolving things quickly will not only satisfy a customer’s need for instant gratification, but could result in a swing of $184 million for a large internet retailer.
With all these considerations in mind, it’s clear that a responsive, intuitive and quick customer service team is essential to any retailer’s bottom line, especially in e-commerce. Loyalty is a valuable, but hard commodity to cultivate; but with a strong focus on customer service and a deep dive into customer analytics, any company that focuses heavily on the needs of the modern-day consumer will have a vital opportunity to stand out in a crowded space.