As eCommerce becomes the preferred option for more consumers, personalizing customer experience via the impersonal digital platform is key to building and solidifying one’s customer base. 

Beyond cold statistics and demographics, businesses can explore a variety of avenues to get deeper customer insights and use these to personalize eCommerce communication. The sky’s truly the limit when a business adopts or fully transitions into a digital platform; but in order to reach one’s target market, sustain this reach, and achieve conversion goals, a business must prioritize the human side of eCommerce.

Identifying a need and meeting it

You don’t need a degree in economics to understand that the success of any business depends on its ability to meet its customers’ needs. Likewise, you don’t need a degree in psychology to know that meeting customers’ needs is different from satisfying said needs. Customer satisfaction, after all, is the solid base on which a successful and long-standing brand is built upon. 

Lacking the literal personal experience in brick-and-mortar stores, the eCommerce route requires a creative approach to the art of customer persuasion and satisfaction. You must keep in mind that a customer’s buying decisions are not just driven by practical needs, but also by emotions. It’s just as important to remember that knowing how to tap into a customer’s emotions can go a long way towards converting their site visit into a completed sale that’s ready to be shipped!

Business as usual, with a personal touch

How do you foster the human side of eCommerce? 

Make your customers feel valued and understood

Addressing your customers’ needs by providing them with the right product is only the first step towards a thriving enterprise. You must also let them know that you value their thoughts and experiences as your customer. Providing them with the means to express their feedback, requests, and concerns is a great way to let customers know that there’s a human being behind the website that they can talk to. 

Make it easy for your customers to find answers through an FAQ section. Make regular updates on the status of order/s a standard operating procedure. Give them several options to contact you. Avoid auto-generated responses as much as possible; but it’s always better to have one than leave a customer with no immediate response. So if you must, make sure your customers still receive a genuine human response within a reasonable amount of time. This is especially important for customer inquiries and complaints.

Show empathy

You can communicate with empathy by getting creative with your marketing strategies. But customers also appreciate a brand that’s transparent about how much it values its team. Your company’s core values should reflect compassion and warmth. After all, your team is an extension of your company, ergo, how they are treated will also translate into how they treat your customers. Remember that public perception has become even more crucial in this day and age of social media. 

This pandemic is a good example of how companies can remind their customers that they care. Your policies should take into account common struggles or unexpected events that might affect consumers’ financial capabilities. You should consider offering flexible return policies; free shipping and other discounts where you can; and/or vouchers for special circumstances. Your customers will not look for alternative options when they know you’ll take care of them no matter what. 

Deliver a positive customer service experience

You can have the best products in the market, but the quality of your customer service can also make or break you. This is where showing empathy and making your customers feel valued and understood will both come into play. 

You should deliver a satisfying customer service experience through all your communication channels: phone, instant messaging, SMS, email, and live chat. The tone should be conversational and you should communicate patience, consideration, and understanding whenever necessary. And again, make sure your customers get a personal response in a timely manner.  

Solving customer problems should be a hassle-free experience for the customers; their attempt to have a problem addressed should not be problematic in itself. Ensure a reasonable period for resolutions, i.e., a maximum of 5 minutes to get a personal response to an instant message and a standard one-day processing time for returns. Policies such as these will go a long way towards showing customers that your brand is committed to meeting and satisfying their needs.

Final Thoughts

Competition in the eCommerce webscape is a lot tougher. You must go beyond powerful and analytics-driven marketing to get the attention of your target market. Sustaining that attention, persuading them to make a purchase, turning them into loyal customers, AND motivating them to promote your brand are critical to setting yourself apart from the competition. 

In the cold and impersonal world of online commerce, the phrase “getting personal” has gained a whole new and positive meaning. If your brand can present the human side of eCommerce — if you can convince consumers that their satisfaction is just as important to you as are your profits — then you’re already one step ahead of the competition and ten steps closer to building a solid and lasting relationship with your customers.