Despite the supply chain crisis and the resulting lack of inventory, holiday shoppers still have choices. The battle for their dollars will be fierce this year, and whether business wins will come down to how you prioritize the customer experience online. Indeed, consumers can get a good idea about whether they want to do business with you based on everything from the accuracy of your business listing to your response to reviews. What follows are some tips retailers can use to keep their customers coming back during the holiday season:
- Ask for reviews. Seventy-two percent of shoppers read multiple reviews before visiting a retailer, and Google leads the search market. When a consumer makes a search inquiry, Google generates a map with the top three results along with their respective star ratings. These businesses earn their spots in the top three from reviews — the latest reviews, the number of reviews, and review quality. In fact, research shows that having 50 or more reviews can boost your search rank by 50 percent and your clickthrough rates by 266 percent, compared with companies with no reviews. To make sure your business is in the top three, ask your customers to leave a Google review.
- Accumulate positive reviews. According to Google, “High-quality, positive reviews from your customers can improve your business visibility and increase the likelihood that a shopper will visit your location.” Accumulating positive reviews comes when you listen to your customers and learn from the content they post. And using positive customer feedback from your top-performing stores can help underperforming stores improve.
- Be responsive. The worst response is no response at all, so answer every review and customer query — and do it quickly. Responding to reviews shows your customers that you’re listening and sensitive to their experience. Furthermore, replying to customers’ queries via rapid response tools such as text and chat improves engagement and service. In fact, text message open rates are 4X that of email, so meet your customers where they spend the most time.
- Be social. Engaged users on social networks are more likely to convert to being loyal customers. Keep your profiles on social sites such as Facebook up-to-date, and respond to all customer comments, positive or negative.
- Lean into Google Business Profiles. Consumers need to be able to find your business online to learn about it. Therefore, if your information isn’t correct, you risk losing customers. Keep your business’s details up-to-date, and include your phone number, location and hours of operation. More information is better, so consider adding information like COVID-19 protocols or whether you have outdoor seating, private parking or easily accessible bathrooms. Note also that a Google Business Profile has more influence on a business’s local visibility than any other factor.
- Learn from feedback. Flag potential vulnerabilities at the store level. Retailers can address potential issues before they become big problems amid a spike in customer traffic.
Managing the online customer experience is always critical to increasing conversions, but never more so than during this challenging economy. Businesses that pay close attention to optimizing the customer experience will not only be more likely to attract new customers in this environment, but also position themselves for continued success in the future.
Jason Grier is the chief customer officer at Reputation, an online reputation management service for business.
Jason Grier leads Reputation’s customer loyalty and growth initiatives as executive vice president and chief customer officer. Jason is a former senior vice president of Global Support Operations and chief customer officer at McAfee, where he spent more than 10 years. While at McAfee, Jason built a reputation as an industry leader in customer support and operations. His teams were honored with a number of awards, including the Intel Quality Award, a prestigious honor for outstanding quality and personification of Intel’s values and the highest team honor given at Intel. His teams also won two TSIA Star Awards, two Service & Support Professionals Association Awards, and a Stevie Award for innovation in action. Before his time at McAfee Jason held executive-level positions at Sutherland Global Services and Covad Communications. Jason holds a bachelor’s degree from North Carolina State University and an MBA from Pfeiffer University.