One of the most frequent complaints from ecommerce customers is the inability to receive timely answers from a website. I’m always shocked at the number of websites that provide only a “contact us” form, with no phone number or other contact information. In my view, those sites deserve to go out of business.
Recently, an ecommerce shopper told me the following story. “My son needed new basketball shoes, and we went online to find them. We had questions regarding the type of shoe he wanted, and the first site we went to had no phone number or immediate method to get a quick answer. I had a very short time in which to purchase the shoes and, finding no method to immediately contact the ecommerce store personnel, we simply clicked off that site and chose another one that was more accommodating.”
As ecommerce merchants, we should strive to provide a method to immediately respond to customers’ questions, complaints and otherwise give them comfort that we are real people, offering a real product, in a real locale. Here are some tips to achieve that goal.
- Phone number. Display prominently on each page. Period.
- Email address. Display throughout site.
- Live date and time. Display on site to confirm the site is up-to-date and current.
- Suggestion box. Develop a graphic to encourage customer feedback. You might be surprised what they tell you.
- Live chat. If you’re staffed for it, it’s a great communication tool.
- Physical locale and mailing address. Confirm to your customers that your have a physical presence and that they can mail something to you if appropriate.
- Office hours. Post them prominently on the site.
- Email bell. What’s an email bell? Consider having an office computer sound off when an email arrives from a customer. This would be similar to the bell on the door of a brick and mortar retailer that signifies a customer has entered the store. Train yourself and your staff that, when an email bell is heard, work is immediately stopped and the consumer’s email is promptly returned.