Business > Merchant Voice

5 common communication errors with shoppers

You notice good customer service in a physical shop. You appreciate friendly personnel who know the stock and are otherwise helpful and polite. You likely consider returning if you have enjoyed the visit and received good value.

It is often said that smaller ecommerce retailers should offer more value than the big box shifters. Experts quite rightly talk about the contents of the website — the quality of the pictures and the product descriptions.

What is typically not discussed, however, is the importance of other communications with consumers. In this post, I’ll address often-overlooked communication errors that can affect a shopper’s experience.

5 common communication snafus

Poor 404 error page. A 404 “page not found” should be more than the standard oops page that says that there is a broken or missing link. It should offer suggestions and links back into the main site, either to special offers or, at the very least, to the main categories.

Empty search result page. Likewise, if a site search fails to find results, rather than return the normal “no results found,” suggest alternatives or offer links to the relevant categories to encourage the shopper to browse what you do have in stock.

Bland transactional emails include order confirmations, shipping status, delivery details, and similar info. Do not use the standard, default text from your ecommerce platform. Instead, make the emails stand out so the customer can see that you care. Provide details to help resolve problems. Highlight your return policy. Explain the delivery process, provide tracking, and so on. Consider offering loyalty promotions, discounts, or freebies to make customers feel welcome and give reasons to return.

Complicated unsubscribe process. Always include a prominent unsubscribe link on every marketing email. If you make it convenient for subscribers to leave, they will appreciate your brand and might consider returning. One of my pet peeves is an overly complicated unsubscribe process. I’ve encountered a spate of them recently. The ways not to do it include:

  • Unsubscribe link goes to a 404-error page.
  • Unsubscribe page asks you to type your email address — sometimes twice!
  • Unsubscribe message states it will take 7-10 days to process.
  • Unsubscribe page says that an email has been sent to complete the process.

These are all pointless delaying tactics. If a subscriber wants to leave, let him. Be as graceful as possible. There is no point in sending out additional emails to a subscriber who has asked to leave.

Unnecessary abandoned cart emails. A final, questionable communication is the abandoned cart email. I do not like sending them. But other sites, apparently, do like them and presumably get a few additional sales as a result. If you send abandoned-cart emails, record the conversion rate. Are they effective? Moreover, make sure that the cart has been abandoned by the customer and not because the site rejected the order.

Imagine a situation where a consumer tries to buy something and is rejected, perhaps because you cannot deliver to that address or the stock level is wrong or the payment is rejected. Then a few hours later your platform sends an abandoned cart email that offers a small discount if the shopper completes the purchase, only to be rejected again for the same reason. Imagine the anger this would cause.

Richard Stubbings
Richard Stubbings
Bio   •   RSS Feed