“Dang! It just doesn’t fit!”
Lea tried again to squeeze the Cherrywood colored bookcase into its designated spot in her newly-appointed living room. The room was small but with the funky furnishings and accessories she had so carefully chosen, it was all coming together. Except for the Cherrywood bookcase. No matter how she turned it, or angled it, it was just too wide for the little alcove she had envisioned it would live in.
Stepping back to assess the situation, she gathered her thoughts. “Okay, now what?” She wondered out loud. “I guess I should get in touch with CoolCases and find out how to get an exchange or refund, because this thing has got to go. “
Lea is about to embark on a journey.
This journey is going to take her down a road that all customer experiences are built from. Every interaction and every touchpoint from here out constitutes her personal story with this particular brand. This sum total of experiences, as with your own customers and their experiences interacting with your brand, make up the customer journey. Positive experiences along the way create a positive story, one in which the customer knows that she matters and is appreciated. Conversely, negative experiences along the way create a story filled with frustration and disappointment.
Creating that story, the one in which your customers feel important and well taken care of is going to take a lot of work. Today, it’s not enough to have great phone support but limited email resources. Likewise, having on site-support in the form of a self-service widget is great, but if your social media channels are unable to provide the correct level of support, you’ll hear about it from your customers – and it won’t be pretty. To reach today’s always connected customers you need to deliver a multi-channel ecommerce experience to be reachable wherever and whenever your customers want to engage you.
The Multi-Channel Ecommerce Journey Begins
Social Media: A Good Place to Start
“10:47 pm. I’d better check out their hours.” Using her mobile device, Lea logs on to CoolCases.com. “Oh, I can connect with them on social media. I’ll try that.”
As a brand in 2016, social media has to be a big part of your multi-channel ecommerce strategy. It’s a great way to get your message out there and gain followers but more importantly, social media is a great tool to help enrich relationships with your customers, responding to them in real time in a personalized manner, providing fast and accurate information with a human touch.
“How do I return a product?” Lea comments on CoolCases’ Facebook page.
She immediately gets the response:
“Hi Lea! Sorry to hear you need to make a return. We hope we didn’t let you down and we want to make it up to you. Let me know more details and we’d be happy to help. – Sophie M., CoolCases’ Community Manager.”
Lea likes that Sophie was so prompt and eager to help. But she doesn’t feel like explaining the whole story over Facebook. “Ya’ know what, I’m going to check out what I can find on their website.” She goes to CoolCases.com
Self-Service: The Channel of Convenience
On CoolCases.com Lea notices a friendly-looking widget asking: “Need help?”
“Well, yes I do,” Lea says, smiling to herself.
Web self-service helps customers find information on their own terms, in their own time, keeping them highly engaged and focused on the page they are on. Responses are immediate, accurate, and most importantly, always available. Self service is the only sustainable way to deliver 100 percent accurate information 100 percent of the time, exactly when your customer needs it.
She types into the textbox “I need help with returning or exchanging an item. “
The response: “Sorry to hear you need to make a return. We’d be happy to help with that. Please give us the model number”
After a short polite and detailed conversation, Lea has the information she needs and can decide if she wants to return or exchange her bookcase. Her smartphone dings to let her know that she just got an email to confirm her request. She opens it and is presented with a link showing her different bookcases that might meet her needs better.
Email Support: The Backbone of any Customer Service Center
“Oh, I like this one,” she thinks, looking at a light brown bookcase with lots of unique detailing to it. “It’s not as wide, but has really interesting molding. But I have some questions about the depth of the shelves themselves. I don’t see it listed here”. She hits “reply” to the email.
“I love model #18965091 – Fairelane Tan. My space isn’t all that big and I don’t see the depth listed in the measurements. Can you help me out?” Lea hits “send”.
Email has long been the standard for web-based communication with customers. But, just because it’s older doesn’t make it old-school. Email is still one of the most important tools you have as a brand to create real and meaningful connections with your customers. It builds trust and credibility in a way that social media and other platforms can’t. The next time you hear someone foolishly proclaim “Email is dead!” remember that this person probably doesn’t have customers he is working hard to build relationships with. And if he does, he is going about it all wrong.
“Hi Lea! Sorry to hear that Cheery Cherry didn’t work out with your space requirements. I’d be happy to help you find something fitting your needs. Since Fairelane’s shelves go back pretty deep, at 30×20, I don’t think this is the right choice for you.
“Hmmmm,” Lea looks at that line with consternation. But she continues reading:
“I suggest downloading our mobile app. You can take a picture of the room and input the measurements you need and it will help you assess which case will fit the space and the room best. Let me know how else I can help – Ginny S”
“Yeah, that’s just what I need!” she thinks and clicks on the link that leads her to download the mobile app from the app store.
The Mobile Experience: Essential for Today’s Customers
After the app is done installing, she takes a picture of the room and indicates the area where the shelf would go. “Right here,” she says as she moves the slider over a few pixels on her smartphone screen. She types in the dimensions of the space and in a few moments she gets a list of potential bookcases that would fit the space.
Our mobile devices have become an ingrained part of our identities over the last few years. We go everywhere with them and we check them hundreds of times a day. And mobile e-commerce has surpassed web-based e-commerce, which should come as no big surprise considering that people access the internet via mobile devices much more than via laptops and desktops. In order to reach your customers where they want to be reached, mobile has to be at the very top of your multi-channel priority list.
Lea scrolls through the list and finally finds “The One”, a sleek bookcase in oak. “Love it!” she says. It looks great according to the picture she created using the mobile app and the dimensions are just right. Bingo.
Phone Support: Putting a Human Touch on an Ecommerce Multi-Channeling Experience
“Oohh, I do have one question, regarding the delivery date.” From her mobile she can one-click call them. She clicks “call” and waits for an agent who picks up after a moment.
“Oh Hi, I just placed an order, number 100982 and I have one question regarding the delivery date because I’ll be out of town next week.”
Don’t underestimate the power of a phone call. Sure we have so much tech in our lives that the phone might seem obsolete but the truth is that studies have shown that if you don’t offer proper phone support, your customers will take their business elsewhere. A phone call offers easy human contact in a manner that many people still prefer today and the fact that Mobile is the hot platform of the day is driving the trend back up in a big way.
“Hi Lea, My name is Matt and I see your order here. I also see you are returning the Cheery Cherry bookcase. I’d be happy to help you figure out a delivery date that works best for you.”
After a pleasant conversation, Lea has chosen a date for the delivery of the new case and the return of the old bookcase. With everything sorted out and her goals accomplished, she thinks to herself, “Wow that was so simple, it was almost enjoyable.” Each platform along the way performed brilliantly, creating a seamless story, one that leaves Lea not only a satisfied customer but a really pleased one, one who knows that no matter what, CoolCases will be her first and only choice the next time she remodels or refurnishes her apartment.
An effective multi-channel ecommerce strategy is what creates those positive stories, the ones that bring your customers back for more. When done “right”, the stories they’ll tell about your brand will be more than just positive – They’ll be enthusiastic and empowered, with the knowledge that you’ll be right there, wherever and whenever your customers choose to engage with your brand. Create those stories today with your effective multi-channel ecommerce strategy.