[Guest post by Sawaram Suthar]

The world shrinks each year as a result of advanced technologies and simplified lifestyles. Shopping once meant roaming from store to store with a list of desired items, checking each one out and then returning home with something you never thought about buying, but things have changed. The emerging online giants have simplified the shopping experience. Large numbers of online stores have made it possible to get the best stuff while still being hooked to the laptop in your room.

What are the benefits of online shopping?

The myriad of online shopping benefits easily attract more and more customers to online stores. Below are some of the reasons customers give for being more-easily attracted to online shopping outlets:

  • Speedy purchases
  • Wide array of options
  • Convenience
  • Not restricted to local stores
  • Reliability

Why do people hesitate to make online purchases?

While there are many reasons to support online shopping, many customers are still hesitant because of the lack of reliability and poor customer service received from so many of the online stores. Below are some interesting facts that reveal the significance of good customer service when trading or retailing online:

  • 91% of customers who have experienced poor service from an online store won’t return to that business. (Source: Help Scout)
  • 90% of U.S. customers are willing to pay more for superior customer service. (Source: Customer Experience Impact Report by Harris Interactive, Year 2010)
  • While Americans tell approximately 9 people about their positive brand shopping experience, they tell nearly double that number about their negative brand shopping experience. (Source: American Express Survey of the Year, 2011)
  • Only 10% of online merchants provide superior customer service. (Source: Salesforce, 2010 Online Survey)
  • It takes 12 positive customer experience comments to recover from just 1 negative customer experience comment. (Source: Help Scout)

The above-listed facts clearly reveal the significance of good customer service. My friend at Tagove Live Chat said, a company will never establish or expand its online business if it does not provide good consumer service. This is the reason why many prominent online retailers who design impressive advertising and marketing strategies fail miserably. They know how to sell and how to market their products but they do not value customer satisfaction nor can they live up to the promise of quality customer service.

There are some names in the online retail industry that do stand out among the best. They understand the significance of customer satisfaction and they work hard to ensure their websites and online portals offer exactly what customers want.

Which two online retailers stand out with remarkable customer service?

Customer Service

Are all online retailers simply profit-oriented with no regard for consumer expectation? The simple answer is no. There are still e-retailers who understand the significance of customer satisfaction. These brands and websites strive hard to achieve customer satisfaction through innovative means and new strategies. They clearly understand the difference between driving traffic to their website and getting real customers. Advertising, marketing and tall claims can surely bring customers to your websites and online stores but only true customer service can retain them. These brands also understand the simple mantra that retaining old customers is always much simpler than convincing new customers to try their products and services.

Zappos and Trader Joe’s are among the few online retailers who have avoided customer dissatisfaction by providing truly incomparable customer service.

How are they different?

Zappos

Zappos is an online store for shoes and footwear. It opened in 1999 after the owner of Zappos walked into a mall, checked out the footwear of a few different brands but returned home dissatisfied. While one store had footwear in his colour choice, it didn’t have his size. In another store he got the size he needed and the design he wanted, but not in the color he liked. His dissatisfaction inspired him to create an exclusively online store with the widest range of footwear available for people of all ages and genders and in their preferred choice ranges.

Zappos is one of the most successful online stores because it focuses on the core principle of customer satisfaction. Zappos ensures that only products available in the warehouse are displayed on the website. In addition, customers have the option of sharing the information regarding their purchases and preferences so they can be notified later when the product they want arrives at the warehouse.

Zappos invested its money in customer service features because they understand that knowing what customers want and developing ways to meet those needs are the basis for creating tangible opportunities that exceed their expectations in providing remarkable customer service.  Zappos has invested in features like customer observation and behaviour tracking, creating goals like every customer should be treated personally in order to create a more personalized, emotional connection with its customers.

zappos

Making or creating a better life for your customers, without getting them into hot water is a great customer service feature that will not only result in a repeat buyer, but will also end up with referrals as well.

Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe’s has a substantially longer history. The original Trader Joe’s began in the fifties. It understood the significance of offering value for the customer’s money. That is the reason why they came up with great-tasting food at truly-reduced prices – so people could get a complete value for the money they put in. Trader Joe’s continues to remain one of the best food products companies due to their competitive prices for the best quality food.

Janet Eden-Harris, Chief Marketing Officer at Market Force, said, “with most consumers satisfied with their grocery-shopping experiences, it makes for a very competitive playing field for grocers looking to distinguish themselves from the masses,” Further, he stated, “We start to see the greatest opportunities for differentiation in operations-related attributes such as faster check-outs, gracious staff and better atmosphere.

What should other, online retailers learn from them?

Every time a business fails to survive in the market, it is a clear example of what that business is lacking. Wise businessmen learn from successful examples in the trade. The success of these two simple businesses reveal that understanding the customer’s needs and catering to them are still the best ways to survive in the trade. There are many things that the success of these two businesses teaches us:

  • Offer total value for a customer’s money.
  • A first-time customer will only return to your website if you treat them well the first time.
  • Customer service is one of the pivotal, deciding aspects that determine whether or not a customer will return to your store.
  • Unhappy customers can ruin your reputation; so work hard to satisfy them.
  • Provide timely customer–service.

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