As a first time customer entering a B2B / B2C web site, or even a brick-and-mortar retailer there are typically some general expectations:
- Will a customer have a friendly experience (product availability with descriptions and options, simple graphical user interface)
- Are there sufficient options / configurations if required for the consumer
- Will I be provided product reviews
- Is there a straightforward transaction experience (no guessing on what is required to purchase, ship if necessary and return if provided)
- lastly will the merchant be proactive on when the costumer can expect receipt of their product.
If you can meet / exceed these expectations while the costumer is interacting with your business, then there is a possibility that they will not need to be continually following-up on their order.
Far too often a retailer list their products and services, assumes the costumer will “understand” what is needed to procure the item(s) purchased and will be all too happy to accept the lack of follow-thru of said transaction. However, if this costumer has never done business with you before, you can also assume that there will be some anxiety (especially if the price is high) regarding the purchase and they will need to be comforted until their experience with your business has been successfully transacted. Simple status updates, especially if the item has been ordered can alleviate the anxiety. A simple follow-up after the transaction can create a better personalized experience with the customer and potentially retain loyalty for future purchases.
Sure, if I always purchase the same product from the retailer, perhaps a follow-up after each transaction is not necessary – But maybe an occasional touch-base to see if you are meeting their expectations can go a long way in their customer experience. The customer may even provide some helpful advice that other customers (or even lost customers) felt was not that important to you…since you failed ask.
By all means, don’t get lazy and send a generic satisfaction survey to your customers. This is only beneficial if you plan on responding back to their replies, asking what can be done better and what you should continue to do.
If the customer believes they had to expend a great deal of effort to purchase, track and convince themselves they made the right purchase, you can ensure yourself that you may never see them as a repeat customer. It is much easier and a lot less expensive to foster an existing relationship with a customer than create a new one with a stranger.
Be proactive in addressing typical expectations, such as those mentioned above, but also be reactive (especially quickly) when a customer has an inquiry. It’s a lot easier for a customer to build anxiety, distrust and dissatisfaction when they believe you are not being responsive to their needs.
Remember a dissatisfied customer is more likely to share their negative experience with others, versus those that are satisfied. Addressing the issue before it becomes a public issue is a lot more beneficial to your existing and potential business.