Have you ever placed an online order only to have no further communication until the product physically arrives?
When it comes to order confirmations an email confirmation is the bare minimum we expect but many businesses don’t even provide this and so miss out on an opportunity to build customer trust.
I had this experience recently where I had booked online but after being taken to a download page for the digital part of the order nothing else. There was no email with an order confirmation, no follow up to say the item had been shipped, nothing from the shipping company so I could track the progress of my parcel. Nothing at all, except a charge on my credit card. I started to question whether I had actually ordered the physical product.
When I did receive it eventually in my mailbox, it arrived without fanfare, no invoice receipt, no company literature or branding, just what I ordered in a postbag and nothing else. Receiving an email confirmation when we buy something is a reassurance that you’ve entered all the right details to actually receive it. Not receiving one can be slightly worrying, especially if the purchase is pricey.
But what is acceptable these days to reassure customers and what is overkill? If you’re selling online the following two items are the minimum you should provide:
Order confirmation by email for products ordered online is essential for customers when there is a risk of being scammed from websites that can look legitimate. This is also a way to provide an immediate receipt which can state the billing name so that the customer can match up the credit card billing name with the order.
Providing confirmation of a postal order within the parcel or on the outside is also essential, that way it’s easy for the customer to match up what they received with what was ordered and any discrepancies can be handled quickly.
These extras are not necessary but nice to have with online orders and can make your service more memorable for customers:
I’ve received a few of these with different deliveries and it is a nice touch. Some companies even send treats like small chocolates or a fortune cookie which can also work well depending on their brand.
Some packages are wrapped in a way that shows they have been handled with care, nice to know when you’ve already paid for an item that the company still treats it with respect until it’s in your hands.
This is standard for some businesses and not for others. Sometimes it can feel like overkill when there are several emails in one day. One to say the order has been received, another to say it’s been packed and another to confirm that the parcel has been shipped. While it can get a little overwhelming, on the other hand there is a strong feeling of trust that the order is being well handled and delivery is a few sleeps away.
Automated email confirmations allow customers to have a seamless online ordering experience with your business and it is a way to garner their trust. By adding a human touch to the order it can turn a faceless transaction into a more memorable experience that can lead to potential future business, or at least positive customer feedback which is always a good thing.
Many would even say that their business would run a lot more smoothly if they didn’t have to deal with annoying complaints and difficult demands. Interestingly these business owners often run very successful companies despite their general antipathy towards customers.
It’s true that customers have changed in the last five years or so and have become far more demanding. The average consumer has become empowered because the internet has made it possible for them to access more information than previously. Many potential customers are now better informed about the product or service they are considering purchasing, often more than the salesperson trying to help them.
Customers are not only better informed, they expect more from the companies that they deal with. They expect that if a company promises to get back to an email inquiry within one business day that is what will happen. If it doesn’t, they feel quite within their rights to tell their friends about it on Facebook, or send a tweet to the company to vent their irritation. In the past the business owner would never hear about complaints so blatantly.
But before you throw up your arms in frustration, you need to realise that someone complaining on social media is actually the best-case scenario because at least they are giving you a chance to respond and rectify matters. Apart from social media there are many, many clues about how customers view your business. You simply need to see these as golden opportunities to improve the way you do things, rather than as yet another example of people’s over-the-top demands.
Solving your customer’s problems at a basic level is essential, but by ignoring your customer’s complaints and demands you’re missing out on an opportunity to streamline your customer service and attract new custom. Listen to what people are telling you, whether it be through social media, phone conversations, quick asides, high product return rates, abandoned shopping carts, drop off in website visitors.
Don’t just sweep customer feedback under the carpet but be alert to it and ready to take action to improve how they interact with you. Seeing your business from the perspective of your customers is a challenge but one that, if you rise to it, can provide an avenue for business growth and increased sales.
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