Tag: online sales

02 Apr 2014
The Role of Effective Customer Service in Sales

The Role of Effective Customer Service in Sales

A recently released study by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business confirms what many in the customer service industry have been saying for a long time: good service sells. The biannual CMO survey is designed to forecast which direction marketing is moving. Many other considerations are taken into account including the quality of marketing initiatives and the overall value of marketing. The survey measured the results of some 4963 American marketers at leading companies. The respondents were overwhelmingly vice president level or higher – 95% of them.

Conclusions Drawn from the CMO Survey

The general consensus is that there is a greater degree of optimism about the overall performance of the American economy, especially when compared to the last quarter. Concerns remain regarding increased volumes of customer purchases as well as the increased customer price per unit. Retention of customers is another key consideration as are the entry of new customers and the acquisition of new customers. The CMO survey released two reports – one in August 2013 and one in February 2014. In both instances, the most important consideration for customers was that of superior product quality. Contrary to the norm, price and affordability took a back seat to the overall level of service excellence and product quality that customers are privy to.

Facts and Figures

In August 2013 the CMO survey revealed that low price was the most important consideration for 21% of respondents. That figure dropped to 16.8% by February 2014. This certainly corroborates the opinion and the reality that the USA economy is on the rebound and that price considerations are listening to customers in 2014. It is interesting to note that customer service remains in a tight range – between August 2013 and February 2014, with figures of 20.7% and 17.9% respectively. The biggest jump between the CMO surveys of August and February come from the quality sector. In August 2013, 22.7% of respondents valued quality above other considerations while that figure increased to 31% in February 2014. The 8.3 percentage point increase is a sure sign that an improving USA economy and greater disposable incomes are allowing customers greater flexibility in respect of what products they wish to purchase. Clearly the most important considerations in the pie chart are quality, low price and service, while brand and innovation feature as minority sectors.

Based on the survey, return on investment for marketing is measured by: manager assessments 27%, customer surveys 22%, econometric modelling 18%, experimentation 16%, and lead generation 2%. Some 15% of companies admitted that they do not measure marketing return on investment. Spending across growth strategies will continue in 3 key sectors: diversification strategy 15%, service development strategy 11.5%, and market development strategy 11.1%. A reduction to the tune of 11% is expected in market penetration strategy based on the CMO surveys.

Effective Customer Service Facilitates Increased Purchases

Effective customer service has come to mean different things over the years. While traditional FAQs, telephone and fax services sufficed several years ago, today they have either been replaced or bolstered with real-time customer support options. These include self-aware knowledge bases that are capable of updating with using queries and responses in real time. Full integration across multiple channels of an organization is possible. The technology is presently available for customers to access personalized help in any point in their eCommerce shopping experience. Information can be gleaned on product availability, shipping times, payment options, complementary products, out of stock products and location-specific questions. The possibilities abound with customer support software in the eCommerce realm.

The results of the CMO survey speak volumes about changing trends and realities in the marketplace in the US. However it is important not to draw false connections when extrapolating data. For example, the interpretation of the statistics is subject to human intervention and referencing. It’s vital to gain a solid understanding of precisely what is important to the customer and what the customer believes. In that regard, it is clear that enhanced customer support service software that provides for a self-service solution is preferred by customers. Of equal importance is the fact that effective customer service – self-service – reduces overall costs to the company which can then be passed on to the customer in the form of lower prices.

Efficient Self-Service Benefits Customers & Companies Alike

Moreover, this is positive for the company itself as it can train fewer customer support agents, and reduce costs accordingly. This is reflected in companies using this type of software where customers are able to resolve queries at their leisure, without having to wait interminable periods of time on the phone or for e-mail responses. The return on investment (ROI) has increased dramatically and shopping cart abandonment rates are down. The human resources of customer service departments can also focus their attention on dealing with queries that require their undivided attention, as opposed to resolving routine queries. It’s certainly a win-win situation for all.

20 Nov 2013
How to Boost Average Sale Price by 50%

How to Boost Average Sale Price by 50%

Among the many challenges that online retailers face is the issue of conversion. Regardless of the product or service being offered, the uncertainty inherent in many purchases is an impediment to closing the deal. Typically, customers arrive at a specific website with their curiosity piqued. They have a desire to purchase a product or a service, but the uncertainty they may feel regarding the specifics of the product may serve to dissuade them from completing their purchases. Online retailers pour tremendous resources into gaining virtual shelf space on the Web. This is primarily done through search engine optimization and search engine marketing methods. However, the job is not done when customers arrive at an online retailer’s site; making the sale is paramount. If visitors have any uncertainties during the shopping process, this will invariably reflect in the final purchase decision. It’s vitally important to do everything possible to minimize those uncertainties or even eliminate them entirely. The goal is therefore to boost shoppers’ confidence in order to generate more conversions and increased shopping cart value.

Engaging with Customers

Online retailers are well aware that there is a significant volume of “Lost Trade” – known as the Abandonment Rate – between the time that a customer starts browsing, selects items for purchase, and attempts to check out and pay. It is at this very juncture – the uncertainty stage – that an effective customer experience strategy can decrease this abandonment at each of the different stages, recoup some of the lost sales and boost overall ROI. Of course, the effectiveness of instant accurate web self-service tools in terms of incremental sales is dependent upon the experience and the quality of the support that is offered to customers. nanorep provides online retailers with premium-quality Q&A tools that make information seamlessly available and accessible to boost the overall customer engagement and shopping experience. The immediacy and accuracy of the answers provided goes a long way towards assuaging customer concerns, thus generating a higher conversion rate and a higher average sale price.

The secret to the effectiveness of nanorep rests in the proficiency, accuracy and real-time engagement that are offered. Customers have access to immediate real-time assistance from any page or even social channels whenever they need it. In addition, customers can easily access FAQs on a certain product or service they are interested in without having to dig for information, leave the page they are on or wait for assistance. The web self-service engagement strategy  provided by nanorep works around the clock, so customers everywhere can enjoy service excellence. The result is that incremental sales are boosted.

By providing this terrific customer support software, trust is established and uncertainty is eliminated. Many times, customers will go so far as the final checkout stage and then abandon their purchases. This could be the result of not having all the relevant information available or actually discovering new facts about the products or services. The net effect of this lack of knowledge is diminished confidence in completing the purchase.  Fortunately, with nanorep this is being reversed and significant improvements in sales are being seen.

The Convenience of Online Shopping with the Confidence of In-Store

In truth, online retailers lose scores of customers throughout the online shopping process. However, it is entirely possible to decrease the abandonment rates and boost the conversion rates of those customers who go through the process of adding items to the shopping cart. One of the main reasons for abandoning the purchase is lack of information. In other words, shoppers have a lack of confidence when swiping their card and committing to the purchase. So, if it is possible to provide a better service and an improved flow of information, it is entirely possible to significantly raise shoppers’ confidence. This will have the added effect of  dramatically increasing the overall sales figures. By interacting with more visitors and providing them with better service and a more hands-on experience, these numbers can be boosted dramatically.

Numbers suggest that customers who interact with nanorep web self-service tools are 5 times more likely to complete their purchases than those who don’t. In addition, the figures reflect that users, who interact with the nanorep customer support software, receive all the information they need and spend on average 50% more on each purchase. The net effect of this web self-service engagement strategy and superior customer service software is an incredible boost in revenue, compliments of nanorep.

26 Feb 2013
How Great Customer Service Can Lead to More Online Revenues

How Great Customer Service Can Lead to More Online Revenues

It is no secret that online sales are constantly growing. In 2012 e-commerce sales grew 21 percent to top $1 trillion for the first time, according to eMarketer and this year sales are expected to grow in 18.3% to $1.298 trillion.

One of the main contributors to this trend is the improvement in customer experience that we see on the different websites and especially eCommerce sites. There is no doubt that purchasing online should be as easy as possible. This includes eliminating unnecessary forms, helping people to find what they need and explaining about the different products.

So having a good, intuitive UI and flows on the website is important, but we cannot forget the importance of a great customer service. Customer service is important to help users find what they are looking for as fast as possible and make them feel they get a personal attention. You can have live agents attending to your customers but this could become very expensive as your business grows and the amount of visitors on your websites increases. Moreover, a person who gets paid by commission could sometimes become less patient and frustrated with answering repetitive questions that do not necessarily indicate a direct buying intention. This could hurt your customer service and their sales efforts in the long run.

Our experience has proven that the combination of live agents with a self-service customer service solution such as nanorep provides the best customer experience and the best results in this ever growing market. Users get instant help and answers in their shopping process while your live agents can focus more on high level conversations and generate more online sales.

I would like to invite you to listen in to a free webinar which discusses those issues and best practices around online customer service such as:

  • The importance of using the product page as your portal to customer service;
  • Reducing the size of your support team to control costs;
  • How customers’ repetitive questions can improve your product offerings;
  • Don’t forget your mobile customers; and — so much more!

The webinar is presented by John Ernsberger, co-founder and vice president of sales and services at STELLAService, a company that measures and monitors the customer service performance of online retailers.; David Isherwood, the director of sales at Build.com, the second-largest online home improvement retailer; and myself, Roy Goffer, Director of Marketing at nanorep.

Click here to watch it On Demand

29 Jul 2012
How Great Customer Service Can Lead to More Online Revenues

Sell More Online in Your Sales Funnel

If you are a B2B or B2C company that sells products or services online, then you are probably already familiar with the best practices of tracking your online-sales efforts: creating a sales funnel and then using Google Analytics or other software to track what traffic “converts” and generates revenue.

A key element is tracking the results at each stage of the sales funnel. As Van SEO Design notes, most thought leaders have identified a five-step sales process to sell more online:

  1. Identifying the need or want
  2. Determining the requirements
  3. Evaluating options
  4. Purchasing
  5. Evaluating Decision

Here is a simple example. Say that your website sells marketing software. The five-step process would be like this:

  1. Identifying the need or want – “This software can increase my sales?”
  2. Determining the requirements – “Can my website support this software?”
  3. Evaluating options – “How is this different from other types of similar software?”
  4. Purchasing – “Here’s my company’s Visa card.”
  5. Evaluating Decision – “My sales skyrocketed!”

With a little imagination, you can see how the same process is applicable to any company that wants to sell more online. When companies examine the effectiveness of their sales funnels, they typically ask themselves questions such as the following:

  • Why are most people exiting the funnel (abandoning the purchase) at a given stage in the sales funnel?
  • Would a change in the sales text on a certain page get more people to progress in the funnel?
  • Should I change the design of the pages to decrease abandonment?

However, there is one issue that too many inbound marketers do not ask themselves: “How can I address any questions that customers have at each stage of the sales funnel?” Companies focus so much on optimizing the technical functionality of the sales process and the design of the pages that they forget that the “sales” process to sell more online – addressing customer doubts and questions quickly and effectively – still continues at each step along the way.

Here is an example of questions that customers may have during the sales process based on our marketing-software example:

  • Identifying the need or want – “How much will my sales increase?”
  • Determining the requirements – “Can this software run on both PCs and Macs?”
  • Evaluating options – “Why is this software better than (your competitor)?”
  • Purchasing – “Can I pay with American Express (or check, COD, or any other type of payment)?”

If a potential customer finds good, immediate answers to questions at any step in the sales funnel, then he or she will be much more likely to advance to the next stage – and then, in the end, make a purchase. After all, every unanswered question raises a “red flag” – a doubt in the person’s mind that may subconsciously cause him or her to leave the website without making a purchase.

Most companies who recognize this need typically have a customer-service representative available during the sales process who can answer questions via phone, support and live chat, e-mail, or ticketing-system software. However, as we have discussed previously, the customer-support salary needed for these mediums is expensive.

To reduce support costs and sell more online, the best practice is to use customer-support software with self-service support and a help desk to answer customer questions automatically via a self-learning knowledge base – whether the website visitor is in the sales funnel or anywhere else on the site.