The 7 Rules of Customer Delight in Ecommerce

February 23, 2018

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Successful inbound marketing relies on creating an excellent experience for your customer. Gone are the days when simple satisfaction was enough to offer; now you need to be kindling a feeling of DELIGHT within your customers.  This means providing an experience so remarkable and so tightly focused on their interests, need and wishes that they can’t help but be happy with your business and, crucially, will keep returning. It costs five times as much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one, and yet only 7% of consumers say that their customer service experiences usually exceed their expectations, suggesting that there are a many companies who are not focused on creating customer delight.

Here are 7 rules that you should be following to delight your ecommerce customers and keep them coming back to your store:

1. Know the difference between satisfaction and delight

Satisfaction means that you have met the expectations of your customer; delight means that you have gone beyond them. Pretty much everyone has a baseline expectation of an ecommerce transaction: that they will receive what they ordered in good condition and within the agreed timeframe. The difference between satisfaction and delight lies in going the extra mile. If your customer receives a much-anticipated order a couple of days early they will be very positively surprised.
If you are delighting them whilst your competitors are merely satisfying them, the customer will return to you when they order again.  Delighted customers are also natural brand ambassadors and do your advertising for you, as demonstrated by the Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Survey, which found that 83% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know.

Nielsen-Global-Trust-in-advertising-survey-2015Source: Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Survey 2015

2. Customer delight doesn’t come from lower prices

Everybody likes bargain, but as a small ecommerce site you can’t go toe-to-toe on price with the big boys like Amazon.  However, your store has an advantage that those huge, faceless companies don’t which is that you can offer highly personal customer service. There are some simple and easily actionable ways to add an extra ‘wow’ factor to your service, without compromising too much on your profit margins, including:

A free gift

A small freebie can have a powerful impact on your customer’s behaviour.Check out this studythat found waiters received 23% bigger tips when they left mints for their customers with the bill.

A thank you note

A handwritten note included in a package is a simple thing to do and will make your customer feel appreciated.

Proactive customer service

When you’ve shipped a product, follow up with an email asking the customer if they’re happy with their purchase and if you can offer any other help. (You can automate this process from your online store as well, but just make sure it doesn’t scream “template”).

3. Be timely in your responses

Providing timely responses to customer queries and complaints is vital. A study by Nielsen-McKinsey found that 33% of people said they’d recommend a brand that offered a quick but ineffective response, compared to 17% who said they’d recommend a brand that offered a slow but effective response, proving that saying something quickly is sometimes more important than saying something useful.
The gold standard here is to offer responses that are both timely and effective. If you are slow to respond to queries and complaints, your customers will turn to your competitors.
On top of that, customers who feel angry or neglected aren’t shy about turning to social media to vent their fury in public, and negative messages can be very bad for business. Responding as quickly as possible to emails, tweets, Facebook messages and all other types of correspondence will keep your ecommerce customers very happy.

4. Anticipate your customer’s needs before they even arise

Dealing with customer problems as they’re brought to you is one thing, anticipating and solving them before they have arisen is the holy grail of customer delight.  Putting in the initial effort to understand and meet your customer’s needs can save a lot of time and hassle in dealing with complaints or queries in the long run, as well as keeping your customers happy and returning to your site.
Some ways you can do this are:

Use analytics

Analysing data about previous customers can help you to anticipate the ways that potential customers might behave when purchasing. Amazon use this method to suggest items that customers might want to buy alongside their initial purchase, but haven’t thought of yet.

Make sure customers can share their ideas with you

You will get the best idea of problems or needs new customers might have from current customers, so give them a clear method of communicating with you, via email, social media or a feedback form.

Provide self-help resources

Frequently Asked Questions are enormously helpful and allow customers to solve their own issues without asking you. Make sure that section of your website is comprehensive.

5. Think of little ways to surprise your customers

If you’ve ever been offered a complimentary coffee at your local café or a free sample of your favourite perfume, you’ll know that surprises and gifts go a long way to making people feel special. MasterCard took the ‘surprise and delight’ tactic to an extreme with their ‘Priceless Surprises’ campaign, connecting with customers on social media and offering spontaneous gifts like VIP tickets to the Grammy Awards. Whilst small ecommerce businesses can’t offer such huge prices, the principle is still the same on a smaller scale.
Ways to surprise your customers can include:

Personalised offers

Giving your customers personalised offers show you are attempting to build a one-to-one relationship with them.

Exclusive events

Amazon Prime Day is a great example of this, when the retail behemoth rewards loyal customers with an exclusive sale. Your ecommerce business could do this on a smaller scale.

Thoughtful acts of kindness

This could be sending your customer a birthday email or popping a free sample in with their order.

6. Be transparent in your communication

How many times have you called a customer service line and ended up frustrated when told that your query is being dealt with, but with no explanation of how?  Being transparent in your communication pulls back the curtain on your company and makes your customers to feel valued.
All good relationships are built on trust, including those between a customer and a company. Transparency is so important to consumers that a whopping 73% of them say that they would be willing to pay more for a product that offers complete transparency in all attributes.
Ways to increase transparency are:

Own your mistakes 

Be upfront and honest with your customers when errors are made and explain how you will rectify them. This will give you a reputation for humility and honesty.

Encourage honesty

Ask your customers for feedback, share it with your whole customer base and demonstrate how you are implementing useful suggestions.

Engage with your customers

62% of millennials say that they are more likely to become a loyal customer if a brand engages with them on social media. When a customer speaks to you, it’s vital that you listen and speak back.

7. Keep delighting them post-purchase

Your commitment to customer delight doesn’t end once a lead has converted into a sale. Treating your customers simply as cash cows and ignoring them once they have made a purchase will send them straight into the arms of your competitors.  Long-term success relies on nurturing your customers and forming lasting relationships, so the post-purchase phase of the customer journey requires focus too.
Here are some ways to keep delighting your customers after they have visited your ecommerce store:

Don’t stop at thank you

Keep in touch with your customers post-purchase by alerting them to similar products they might like or offering rewards for feedback on their experience.

Encourage them to join you on social media

Let them know that you value their thoughts and opinions and make it easy for them to find and follow your social channels.

Recognise customer loyalty

You can show your love for return customers by offering them a loyalty scheme, discounts or other special offers.
Customer delight is the result of going above and beyond in with your customer service. Small ecommerce business owners can make a big impression by focussing their efforts on making sure that customers are more than satisfied, something that will translate quickly into return customers and excellent word of mouth. Put the suggestions above into action and watch your reputation rocket from satisfactory to sensational.


Victoria Greene is a brand marketing expert and writer. Her blog, Victoriaecommerce, is packed with marketing tips for ecommerce businesses looking to scale and make the most of multichannel commerce.
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