Your Confirmation Email is in the Post

I order a lot of things online. Too much, my husband tells me. But it is great research that I can impart to my clients.

Recently my husband ordered some ear muffs for our little guy. He was taking him to the Formula One Grand prix so they were needed in a timely fashion. He was smart and chose Express Post, put through his order and waited.

What he then experienced was silence. No confirmation email. No shipped email. In fact no emails at all. The ear muffs did arrive promptly but the experience still left a bad taste in my mouth and they would not be my first choice next time.

The internet is anonymous enough without ignoring your customers. It’s really not that hard to set up auto responders when orders are placed, and to send shipping notifications when the item has shipped. It’s hard to get new customers, so it’s worthwhile doing everything you can to turn them into repeat customers.

And in case you’re wondering my husband and our little guy had a grand time at the Grand Prix. The little guy even came home telling me he had driven a Ferrari. Now that’s setting the bar high.

Shipping is Part of the User Experience

A lot gets discussed about having clear information about your shipping destinations and prices. I also often touch on making sure you communicate throughout the ordering and shipping process so your customer knows what’s happening and how their order is progressing. But I’ve not talked much about what happens to the goods once leave your business. Until now.

We recently purchased some printer inks online. They took a little longer than we expected to arrive but we can live with that. But the actual goods arrived in a crumpled, homemade box that used to be a box carrying wines. It looked cheap and amateurish and we had to wonder if the inks we paid for were the brands we thought they were or cheap copies. Keep in mind this was not a cheap order – we spend over $200.

The moral of the story. The user experience with your business does not end when the goods leave your warehouse. How they are packaged and presented have an impact on how your business and goods are perceived. Take time to package things professionally. It’s not hard.

Communicating With Your Customers

With a four and a half month old baby I’m suddenly doing a lot more of my shopping online. Along with the convenience I’ve found it’s helped me get an even greater insight into how different businesses approach selling products online.

One glaringly obvious way I can compare businesses is in their communication. And I am amazed at just how differently they communicate. From people who email me every step of the way to those who I don’t ever hear from until the product arrives at my door. Can you guess who I prefer?

Once I’ve found what I’m looking for and handed over my credit card details I really want to know that my order has been received and you’re sending it out to me. It’s not hard to acknowledge an order and to keep your customers informed of where you’re up to in the shipping process. It takes such a little amount of time – or can even be automated – so I wonder why so many businesses don’t do it. Can’t they be bothered? Is it to much work? Don’t we, the customer, matter? Perhaps the web developer who built the site didn’t emphasize how important it is. Whatever the reason I can tell you which businesses get my repeat orders. And I suspect it’s the same for their other customers too.

If you run an e-commerce website make sure you communicate with the people who order from you. Do it clearly and do it often and you’ll be in a much better position to reap their repeat business.

Audio Commentary on Websites – Urghhh!

I’ve been researching a particular market for a client and every single website I land on has audio – not just the crappy music we all know and love but someone speaking. Good grief how can one read the text and follow the audio at the same time? It so annoying and of course there’s no way to switch it off bar muting my speakers.

I suspect some enterprising soul has gone and pitched to all the businesses in the area. Telling them how great, and cutting edge having an audio commentary is. Not. If I was an actual buyer I’d be off those sites so darn fast my mouse would leave rubber marks.

I wish more people would put themselves in the shoes of their users and consider whether a “feature” really is a “feature”. 9 times out of 10 I’d bet my house it does nothing but drive people to their competitor’s websites. Which, when you think about it, is really good for my client. ;)

Exceeding Your Customers Expectations

I bought two products online last Friday: a tube of shaving cream for my hubby from Hong Kong and a tube of moisturiser for me from Hoppers Crossing (a 15 minute drive from where I live).

Both offered free shipping which, whilst not a deciding factor, was certainly a nice bonus. So which one do you think turned up first thing Monday morning? Nope, it was the shaving cream from Hong Kong. Usually I wouldn’t have expected it until tomorrow. Seriously.

Now I’m not critising the Hoppers Crossing place – I purchase from there regularly and always receive my goods in a timely fashion, but less than one business day from Hong Kong, that’s sensational. It’s the type of online shopping experience I want to tell all my friends about. Thanks StrawberryNET!