September 17, 2010 | WineDirect Admin
When a customer comes into your tasting room, service should be and always is the top priority. Friendly faces and warm greetings are prevalent and everyone is focusing on that visitors satisfaction. If someone has a question, you are there to give an answer. If someone has an issue or special request, you are there to resolve and fulfill it. Most importantly, your customers know how much you appreciate their business and them.
Matching that personal experience during the purchasing process on a website is way more difficult. Your online store is technology and when it comes to technology and business, technology is intended to streamline operations and reduce human intervention. Everyone knows that and sometimes an online purchase can seem so isolated from any other human interaction. So, how do you personalize an experience being created by a mostly one way system?
First and foremost, put your phone number on every page! Despite the length of your FAQ page, you are not going to be able to answer every single question that your customer might have. Most websites drive people to contact forms and emails, but if I have a quick question sometimes I want to talk to someone right then. Be accessible according to your customers preference. Make sure your website clearly articulates the fact that you are available via phone, contact forms and emails.
**Added Bonus** It brings a level of credibility and can help improve conversion from visitors to purchasers.
Showcase the same level of professionalism on your website that you hold your staff to. Have a consistent look and feel on every page. Your site was designed to provide a smooth and consistent experience and your customers like that. Sometimes, people get a bit carried away with editing the text on pages and it often leads to a page that is very difficult to read or navigate.
Avoid the following:
Bolding entire paragraphs of text – Use bold and italic sparingly.
Centering text – it works on print materials better than it does on the web.
Different colors – Your brand is important and your website was designed to match your brand. Don’t create a rainbow in your content. It is distracting, looks amateurish and takes away from the consistency of your site. Also, it can be hard to read. (If you can’t read that last part, put your cursor at the start of the sentence, left click and hold, and drag to the end to highlight the sentence.)
CAPITALIZING – Why are you YELLING AT ME???
Making text really BIG!
Underlining things that are not links. – This confuses me. The internet has programmed me to think that when something is underlined, it is a link and I am often concerned that my left mouse button has stopped working when I click on an underlined word and nothing happens.
Give your customers what they want. Imagine a customer is in your tasting room and they want to buy a case of wine that you currently do not have at the winery. Are you going to turn away the sale? Nope. You’re going to explain that you currently do not have any in stock but you would love to ship it to them or have it available for pickup later that day. So why wouldn’t you say the exact same thing if a customer is trying to buy a wine that is temporarily out of stock on your website? Your not, right? I am willing to bet that you are in fact allowing that customer to add the product to their shopping cart, but making sure that you clearly state throughout the checkout process, that there might be a slight delay in getting that wine shipped out to them while you handle the logistics in completing the order. Like I said, I’m willing to bet that is what you are already doing.
**Opportunity to be a customer service superstar** In a backorder situation, follow up with the customer directly so they know you are aware of the state of their order and it is not landing in limbo or no man’s land.
Most people can tell if an email is automated and there is nothing personal about that. In order to remain personal, include non webby methods of communications. Emphasize the fact that a customer can always call you directly. Have a question about your order? Give us a call or login to your account. (Notice the login is the second choice. We love talking to our customers, right?)
Don’t stop at the website or after the order is complete. I know that you can’t always do it, but when you can, follow up personally. Call and ask about the purchasing process and was it easy? How was the wine? It pulls the curtain aside and shows the human behind the technology.
**Added Bonus** You can usually get another sale from these types of outreaches. Not too shabby and a fantastic way to impress your boss.
Include special collateral with pictures of your winery/vineyards in shipments to remind customers of their experience when visiting with you. And my personal favorite, a special hand written thank you card. I have only gotten one of these ever, but I can tell you that it made my day and it made me a fan for life!
These are just a few suggestions, but there are plenty of other methods to turn a non-personal experience, like shopping on a website, into a great personal experience.