It is no surprise that after the last year or so and the massive changes the pandemic brought to how humans communicate with each other, the way people select and then buy products and services has also changed. It’s not that the change was not already happening, but the last year’s events have accelerated the process so that both businesses and the people who rely on them have been caught slightly unawares.
Going from a mixture of online and face-to-face interaction to full online communication has changed many relationships with customers and suppliers alike. Not all of these changes have been positive. If you are one of the business owners who have had difficulty keeping up with the changes in how you now find, communicate, and then successfully sell to customers, there is both bad news and good news.
First of all, the bad news. Indications are that the way many people are now choosing a product or service and then going on to buy is likely to remain unchanged when the rest of the world returns to “normal.” However, the good news is that if you haven’t already, you can adjust your business to the “new normal” more easily than you might have thought.
Upgrade your website as a priority
As more communication is moving online, it makes sense to start by making sure your website makes the grade. The number of changes will vary massively from company to company, depending on how you did business previously.
If your website was already a place where your customers could make a purchase or get quick answers to their questions, then you don’t have as much work to do as a business that only used their website as an online brochure and all of their customer contact was done face to face.
The initial checklist you need to give to a web designer will include speeding up your site’s loading time and making sure it can be identified correctly by Google. The amount of customers that click away rather than wait for it to load is no doubt already making a massive difference to your bottom line, so it needs addressing immediately.
If there is time and the available budget, it could also be wise to get the same designer to give your site a UX audit and overhaul. UX stands for user experience, and a site where the customer journey is seamless typically will convert more visitors into customers and receive more return visits.
If you need to upgrade your site so that people can buy goods or services online, then it is a different job rather than a much larger one. If your business makes a few high-ticket sales, then you can manage this with an additional plug-in to your site.
However, if the number of transactions is much greater, then a more extensive upgrade or a switch to a Shopify site might offer the best solution.
Find a way to collect and examine feedback
Now that the move to more online purchases is well underway, your way of collecting feedback could also be in line for an upgrade. Whereas before, customers freely gave face-to-face feedback, and you could act on it immediately, it is now a remote process that needs a slightly different strategy.
It is also a reflection of changing attitudes, especially in millennial and generation Z customers. They are less likely to contact you directly via telephone, but instead are more likely to enquire via email or social media. Many of the other services that these customers use have rapid responses, and a failure to respond quickly can be seen as a huge negative and may lead to a negative review on a sales site or a platform such as Trustpilot.
In practical terms, you will need to monitor channels you would not usually check outside business hours. The additional factor with so much feedback coming in across so many different channels is that you can lose track of what people are saying about you and how you can respond and improve accordingly.
The first step here, alongside upgrading your social media presence (more on that in a minute), is to search for the best feedback tools to collect and collate your feedback in order to give you a concise answer to what you need to do to improve.
Reviews on sites such as Trustpilot and even product reviews from buyers on Amazon have a massive effect on potential customers’ buying decisions. While your business will never be perfect, it is an excellent idea to keep the one- and two-star reviews to a minimum.
Generate more online content
As mentioned previously, the way customers make a purchase has changed. They will do the majority of their research and decision-making process through searching online, and by the time they come to buy, they have usually made up their minds.
For this reason, any influence you have in this stage of the process is valuable, and you can do this by generating online content for them to find during their research phase. This can take on many forms, social media being the most obvious. Here, you can show what you have to offer and how your brand goes about its business.
Customers are also influenced by how and where your products are made, who they are made by, and how you test them. They are also concerned with broader issues regarding eco-friendliness and diversity, and are likely to buy from a brand whose ethics most closely align with their own. While you can showcase this excellently on social media, long-form website content is also very important.
Ideally, a short social media post leading to a longer, more in-depth article can significantly affect a potential customer’s buying decision. If you can back this up with mostly positive feedback from other users across many platforms and send them to an easy-to-navigate website, you are giving yourself the best chance to create a long-term loyal customer.