While nobody put a name to it at the time, that was the personal way of doing business and people loved it. That’s why they kept going back to the same stores – it wasn’t the products they found there: it was the people.
Then advertising companies took over and told people what you should want. It was an impersonal, oftentimes cold behaviour – and people became stats and demographics. A very clear one-way communication, where you could hear and see what you should buy, but nobody listened to your reply (if you were even able to give one – more often than not, it wasn’t possible).
Looking at the two sides, now we are somewhere in between. Consumers are educated – on the products, on the industry they’re buying in and throwing a big billboard across a building won’t persuade them to open their wallets.
So what will?
Why You Can’t Ignore Customer Empathy
Behind your shoppers purchasing decisions are a range of human emotions. If businesses fail to understand this drive behind a buy, empathize and meet the needs of their customers, it will result in a severe disconnect between customer expectations and service received.
While some of the decisions a business makes in terms of their service and product offering may seem ideal in theory but, as client needs aren’t always logical, it is actually frustrating for the customer. That is why it is vital for online stores to pick up on these pain points, and make their shoppers feel valued and understood – otherwise, they will jump ship at the first sign of a better alternative (e.g. buying from your competitors)
Delving into the customer’s opinions and feelings about your brand can also give your new revenue opportunities. Use the knowledge to create an improved user experience, create more relevant features or even acquire more lucrative product lines.
What is True Empathy in eCommerce?
Make It Easy for Consumers
Marketing strategies are designed to show products in a positive light – but empathy cannot be faked. To build real empathy, it starts with working on your organization’s core culture. If there is a disconnect between how you treat your team versus the story told to the public, that will be reflected in the quality of services rendered to customers.
The best companies are constantly finding new ways to make things easier for their shoppers. So don’t ask them to jump through hoops to get the information they need – for example, build an FAQ page, give them timely updates on their orders and clarify shipping details, before you get asked.
The work your colleagues in the customer-facing teams are doing is tremendously important - Sales, Marketing and Customer Support all have a say in how your brand is perceived by the public.
Let's look at a typical return process - can you tell where your company stands? Are you asking them to fill out several forms, wait 7 days for a response and another 14 day for funds processing? Or, like Amazon, do you process returns within 24hrs?
What Amazon is doing is following a 'Customer First' culture, making problem solving a hassle free process for shoppers. Such an empathetic returns process reinforces Amazon's commitment to one of their 4 Key pillars: customer 'obsession'.
In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak this year, eBay launched an accelerator program for small businesses called 'Up & Running', which allowed local organizations free access to an eCommerce platform in order to help them stay afloat. Moreover, eBay was committed to offer free digital and advertising tools to local owners in such a way that the pandemic wouldn't affect their revenues to such extent.
While you as an online retailer might not have the full financial power of eBay, keep in mind that it's your customers that keep you afloat - giving them a little space to breathe, when you know your shoppers are struggling, can go a long way. And remember, every bit counts:
- Offer discounts or free shipping where you can
- Be flexible with your returns policies
- Help your customers in need with more than their financial burden - be available: via email, live texts, social media or via phone
Leverage Conversations for Better Customer Support
84% of consumers consider customer service to be a key factor when deciding whether to purchase. So why don’t eCommerce brands pay more attention to their customer service offering? Not long ago, we wrote a post through which we shared our thoughts on why bad customer support costs brands more than the few dollars of a refund.
To dig a little deeper, empathy revolves around conversational marketing. And looking at the trends, even the term itself has spiked on the Google Trends interest map.
That is because Conversational SMS Marketing is one of the most effective empathy channels available to brands right now. And it's global - the USA isn't the sole country utilizing the power of text marketing - brands across the globe have taken this relatively new trend to heart and are leveraging direct conversations with their customers.
These statistics come as no surprise - customers are no longer willing to wait for days on end to get a response from an online brand, emails that take a week to reply and automated, scripted responses are a thing of the past.
More so, information is available everywhere around them - so intrusive cold calls and promotional texts with no value simply won't cut it anymore. People demand real-time, empathic communications and reject anything that seems even remotely impersonal.
At Cartloop we enable you to do just that - we use tech and real people communicating empathically with your shoppers, in real-time and with zero overhead for store owners.
Don't believe us? Take a look at some real conversations we've had with shoppers:
Consumers' perspective has changed over the past 10 years. They want (and are actively looking) to support companies that are concerned about people just as much as they are about profits.
In the end, it comes down to truly caring. Empathy is defined by understanding the thoughts and emotions of people around you. When you take your foot off the Sales pedal, sit down and try to understand your customers, you can drive the conversation in a way that your audience will respond to - not only will this up your sales tremendously compared to your competitors, but it will get you a lot of goodwill too.
If you'd like to see how we build empathic conversations with our clients' shoppers, sign up for a free 14-day trial. No strings attached!