The Most Effective Way to Use Live Chat
Most business owners today know what it takes to provide a unique, personal, and positive customer experience when physically interacting with the customer. Unfortunately, many business owners can’t mimic that same success when dealing with customers online.
If you’ve been struggling to find success in this area of your business, offering live chat options can certainly help. Some studies suggest that customers who use live chat during the sales cycle are three times more likely to purchase something from your business.
As effective as it is, many online stores and online business owners don’t feel they have the time, money, or energy to keep their customer service lines open 24/7. The good news is you don’t have to offer live chat 24/7 and you don’t even have to offer it more than a few hours every week.
Of course, you’ll have to be careful about what times you pick, but that’s easy to figure out when you have the right strategies to implement. Don’t worry, we’re going to discuss three of the most beneficial ways your business can start offering live chat without spending too much time or money.
Let’s get started!
1. Utilize Live Chat During Peak Hours
The first way you can make live chat work for you and your staff is by only offering it during peak hours. Since most customers are going to have questions during certain times of the day, those are the times you should target when launching live chat services.
You can already gauge this by looking at the amount of questions you currently receive and when you receive them. Google Analytics is another great tool you can use when learning your customer's traffic patterns on your website.
You also want to account for all the customers you receive when running certain promotions, newsletters, or marketing campaigns. Since these are sure to bring traffic to your website, it’s best to have your live chat open for any questions you might receive.
Once you can find those peak hours to launch your live chat, experiment with 1-2 hour shifts and record your observations so you can reassess how everything is operating after a week or two. In due time, you’ll learn what works best for your customers and they’ll get the service they need -- when they need it.
2. Take Customer Feedback Seriously
When offering live chat to your customers, you’re going to want to make sure your chat queue doesn’t get crowded with questions, comments, and concerns. It adds stress to the situation, results in customers having to wait (which defeats the purpose of live chat), and makes your business look bad on all ends.
So, what does this have to do with customer feedback?
Believe it or not, those negative comments and bad reviews you get mean more to your business than you think. They are your opportunity to improve your business and offer an even greater service than you did before -- to everyone and anyone.
When you listen to your customer’s feedback and implement the changes they want to see, you effectively limit the amount of similar inquiries that are sure to flood your inbox.
Let’s take a glitch on your website for example. When one customer sees it, another one is bound to eventually. And when one customer reaches out to you about it, that means another one will unless you take care of that glitch.
The same goes for those frequently asked questions you get asked every single day. By offering a FAQ page prior to reaching out to live chat, you can eliminate those basic questions from flooding your inbox.
All of this is designed to keep your live chat tailored for those custom inquiries and difficult questions that actually matter.
3. Focus On the Inquiries That Matter
The moment you start marketing or promoting the fact that you offer live chat, there are going to be a lot of people that have questions and suddenly want to know more about what your business does -- especially when you place it at the bottom of every page on your website.
The truth is, not all inquiries are going to be worth your time and some of them are going to come from people that aren’t really that interested in what you have to offer. At the same time, you have to accept their question and give them your time.
Instead, you should be strategic about how you display your live chat, where you showcase it on your website, and at what times you make it available. This will put your business in a position to succeed with live chat.
For example, only showing the live chat option when visitors land on your ‘contact me’ page or the ‘checkout’ page. You can also tailor it to only show on certain product or service pages, which comes in handy if you get a lot of questions about one product in particular.
While you want to help anyone that comes your way, it’s best to focus on the inquiries that matter most and are more time-sensitive than other questions. All the other questions can be answered via email or a support ticket.
If you need further assistance when introducing live chat to your customers for the first time, then Consultants In-A-Box is prepared to help! We know this is something many business owners are scared to offer due to how tedious it can be, but we can help make it easy for you and your staff members.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your business better interact with its customers -- after all, what’s more important than their satisfaction?
How to Bring New Customers to Your Online Business
One of the most challenging aspects of running an online business is finding a consistent and reliable flow of customers every single day. Every store is likely to see periods of growth, but they’re often met with a steep decline soon after.
For online business owners that want to defy the growing frustrations around customer acquisition, it’s important you change your mind set about what customer acquisition is. It’s not so much a goal or even an objective. Instead, it’s a process that must be respected and trusted.
It requires understanding more than just how many customers you have at any given time, but also how much money that customer is likely to spend when visiting your online store, how often they’re likely to return, and how much it’ll cost to maintain that relationship over time.
When it comes to customer acquisition, we have some tips that will help you find success -- whether you’re new to owning an online business or have been in the game for a while. Without further ado, let’s get started!
The Basics of Customer Acquisition
Before we get deeper into the depths of customer acquisition, let’s first make sure we’re all on the same page about what customer acquisition entails. In its essence, customer acquisition refers to the process of finding, developing, and nurturing customer relationships in a way that persuades them to support your business.
For the most part, business owners like to think of customer acquisition as if it’s a funnel. There are three parts of the funnel -- the top, the middle, and the bottom. Let’s take a closer look at each:
- The Top - this part of the funnel requires you to form leads from a wide target audience that consists of people that might be interested in your product or service, but that interest isn’t guaranteed. You’ll need to know your target audience, but it’s okay to not be too specific here.
- The Middle - once you garner interest from potential customers, they’ll fall into the middle of the funnel. This is typically when they’ve added something to their cart or signed up for a newsletter on your site. These are the leads you need to start persuading and nurturing a relationship with.
- The Bottom - this part of the funnel consists of potential customers that are ready to purchase a product or service with you. They’ve shown the interest, you’ve persuaded them, and all you have to do is close the deal.
Every business is going to have their own procedures and standards when dealing with each customer or lead throughout each process. For example, there are hundreds of different ways you can attract leads at the top of the funnel and they won’t all be feasible for your business. Instead, you’ll need to choose the one that works best for you.
How Much Does Customer Acquisition Cost?
Most business owners spend all day finding and interacting with potential customers, yet a majority of them have no idea how much it’s costing them to go through the customer acquisition funnel.
Enter the customer acquisition cost (CAC), a simple yet effective way to measure the cost of each new customer you bring on every month. In order to calculate this, divide your total cost of marketing for that month (or week, or year) by the total number of customers acquired during that month (or week, or year).
Once you determine the CAC, you can take it a step further and compare it to the average amount of money spent by each customer when they first visited. Ideally, this number will be greater than the CAC, which would mean you’re making a profit on that customer.
One of the few times it’s okay for the amount spent by the customer to fall below the CAC is if it’s highly likely for that customer to come back and spend more money at your business.
Don’t worry, there are certain tools that make it easy to track these numbers and actually do all the number-crunching for you automatically. Google Analytics and Shopify Reports are two of the most common tools used by online businesses today.
Having Difficulty Acquiring Customers Effectively?
When dealing with the customer acquisition funnel, many businesses struggle to make that initial contact with potential customers. This is imperative when you don’t have the proper strategies in place to attract them.
Let’s discuss some of the most prominent and effective customer acquisition strategies your business can benefit from.
Social Media Presence
One of the most powerful tools and strategies your business can implement when acquiring new potential customers is social media. It’s free (at its core) and is extremely fun when you use it to spread your message and core values.
With some companies boasting followers in the millions, there’s no telling what a stronger social media presence could mean for your company. It drives in organic traffic and it helps give others proof of your leadership in your industry.
Unfortunately, it’s also difficult to maintain, takes time to build a following, and the landscape for social media is always changing. The pros weigh the cons in most situations, though.
Focus on SEO
If you like free strategies, here’s another one -- search engine optimization (SEO). This is the process of optimizing your website to make it easy for search engines to find your content. With the amount of purchases starting with a Google search these days, this is an important strategy to implement for any business with a website.
You’ll need to determine the keywords that best associate with your business and its customers, as well as blast those keywords strategically throughout the site. There are also a variety of other SEO strategies that could help you gain some respect with Google and improve your ranking in searches.
While it’s free and brings a good amount of organic traffic to your website, it isn’t always easy to implement and may require some assistance. It also takes time to see results and, of course, there's a lot of competition out there.
Wile digital marketing has certainly become the focus for many businesses, that doesn’t mean forms of traditional advertising are dead. In fact, they’re still very much in-use today and can have a very strong impact on your ability to attract leads.
The great thing about traditional advertising is it comes in many forms and they range from small-scale campaigns (like print advertising and direct-mail advertising) to large-scale campaigns (like radio and television ads).
Traditional advertising is a great way to build customer trust and gain widespread exposure the old way. Unfortunately, it often costs a pretty penny and is difficult to track how well it’s working for your business. Either way, it’s a good option to explore when searching for more ways to gain leads.
Introduce Referral Programs
There’s nothing better than having existing customers bring you new customers, it’s like the gift that keeps on giving. It’s effective because others are more likely to trust a referral from someone they know and there’s a limited up-front cost since the incentive is rewarded after the new customer is brought to the bottom of the funnel.
A referral program helps encourage repeat purchases, it increases exposure in areas where your customers already live, and it helps add some excitement when customers interact with your business. For a lack of better words, it gives them a reason to do your marketing for you.
Of course, it also means you won’t get to engage with that lead until they reach the middle of the funnel. You’ll have to act fast in persuading them before they lose interest.
Utilize the Power of Emails
How often do you personally check your email every single day? For most people with a mobile device, this answer is likely by the hour -- if not more often. That means there’s a ton of opportunity to connect with potential customers via email.
Newsletters are one of the biggest ways of doing this. It allows you to be visual and creative with the content, opposed to the boring old text email we’re used to. Of course, this strategy only works if you have emails to connect with.
To collect emails, you need to ask for them. Your website and social media profiles are the two easiest ways to gain email leads. The best part is you get to keep those emails until they unsubscribe from the newsletter -- and let’s be honest, that rarely occurs.
Your lead generation list will continue to grow and you’ll always have a way of reaching out to potential customers. Eventually, it’ll be just as powerful as a popular social media page.
Take Advantage of Influencers
Speaking of popular social media pages, you don’t always have to use your own followers to gain potential customers and leads. In fact, there are a wide variety of influencers on the internet that are prepared to market your product for you to their followers.
Since some of these influencers have hundreds of thousands and even millions of followers, this can open you up to a wide range of followers. As long as you choose your influencer wisely, those followers could hold a strong interest in your own company.
Influencers help with brand awareness and niche targeting, but it also only works if you have a budget or something to offer the influencer (free membership, free samples, etc.). It’s also difficult to track how well it’s working.
Paid Ads Go a Long Way
The final strategy we’ll discuss when attracting customers to the top of your customer acquisition funnel is paid advertising. There are so many ways to advertise online when you have the budget to do so -- including social media ads, search engine ads, and even advertising your stuff on other websites.
When done properly, it can lead to a wide range of exposure on the internet and is pretty easy to target where the funds should go. At the same time, it can be rather expensive and there’s a steep learning curve when getting the most out of paid ads.
If you have the budget for it, it’s certainly worth a try -- especially if you have the right help in your corner.
Which Strategy Works Best for You?
With so many different strategies available to online business owners, it can be difficult to understand which one works best for you. You know your goal and you know you’re ready to do what needs to be done to achieve it, you just need that extra little push.
Don’t worry, we understand. At Consultants In-A-Box, we dedicate ourselves to making sure every business is implementing the right customer acquisition strategies to maximize their exposure and increase sales on a consistent basis.
If you need further assistance implementing these strategies or finding the one that will work best for you, contact us today. We can’t wait to discuss how we can help your business continue to grow and elevate it to heights you’ve always dreamed of.
Ways to Earn Trust When Your Online Business is New
If there’s one thing all new business owners face when attempting to grow their customer base, it’s the lack of trust and lack of track record. It can be difficult to gain trust with customers that know nothing about who you are, what you do, and how passionate you are about your product.
That leaves us with the burning question on every new business owner’s mind, “How do I gain customer trust when I haven’t earned any reviews for them to go off of?”
Don’t worry, you’re not alone when asking this question. In fact, it’s something most business owners are faced with -- especially since it’s difficult to gain customer trust when you don’t have any customers.
That’s why we’re going to discuss nine of our favorite ways to earn trust with potential customers before they purchase your product. What you’ll get in return is interested buyers ready to make that purchase.
Let’s get started!
1. Find the Errors
If you want to build trust with potential customers that don’t know much about your brand, then you have to take a nice, long look at your website to determine whether or not it meets your customers’ standards.
Find the errors, fix them, and search for ways to improve it top-to-bottom. And before you ask, yes those grammar mistakes and punctuation errors do matter.
This includes making sure the website and shop are easy to navigate, making sure your homepage clearly states what your business does, and ensuring you give the customer as much information as possible.
To ensure everything is working properly, go through your site as if you’re a customer and experience it how they would experience it. You can also have your friends and family do the same to get their opinion of it.
2. Take Advantage of FAQs
Having a page dedicated to frequently asked questions is an extremely good practice when building a trustworthy website. There’s a reason why these questions get asked frequently and it’s because they’re the questions your customers are dying to get answers to.
A FAQ page does several things for your business and its customers. It informs the customer about who you are, what you do, and how you do it, as well as giving you an opportunity to display your expertise and establish yourself as a leader in your industry.
Finally, they give you a chance to limit the amount of inquiries that get flooded into your email inbox and phone support lines. This means a more streamlined process for you and the customer, which always leads to more trust when first starting out.
Don’t forget to include specific information about your company that wasn’t a good fit for the About page, information about products you sell, your return policy, shipping information, licenses or certifications, and anything else that might help the customer learn more about your business.
3. Hand Out Samples
When you’re truly having a difficult time grabbing the attention of customers and getting them interested enough to buy your products, it might be time to consider handing out free samples to a select few customers. Not only does this gauge interest, but it gets people using the product.
After all, who wouldn’t try something that’s free?
It’s a price you’ll have to pay in the beginning, but it can pay off dramatically when done right. You’ll not only gain positive reviews and repeat customers when they try the sample, but you’ll give others more reason to buy the real product when they miss out on the sample.
Here are some ideas you can try when handing out samples to potential customers:
- Use the power of a sample to request a review, testimonial, or survey from potential customers.
- Send a sample to a social media influencer related to your industry and have them market the product on their page.
- Do it the old-fashioned way and set up shop at a convention or art show and hand out samples there. Any event that’s related to your industry will work.
Since there will be an up-front cost to doing this, you’ll want to be strategic when preparing to hand out the samples. Don’t give them away like candy on Halloween. Instead, be precise about who gets one and make sure it also benefits you in some way.
4. Accurate, Yet Catchy Descriptions
You’d be surprised at how many online stores fail to utilize the product description when marketing their products. In fact, many business owners don’t write a product description at all.
If you want your customers to feel more comfortable when shopping for your products and browsing through your store, you need to make sure your product descriptions are detailed, creative, catchy, and specific.
You should be listing the measurements of the product, what they receive (if it comes in a box), how much it weighs, any disclaimers, warranty information, and ways the customer can enhance the product. Of course, images and video certainly help add to the experience for the customer.
5. Customer Service & Support
When you open your online store, you’ll likely have a lot of people that visit your store and immediately have questions. While most of these questions can easily be listed in a FAQ section on your website, that doesn’t always mean the customer sees it.
With that being said, it’s important to make yourself as available as possible to your customers. When they have a question, comment, or concern, you need to accommodate them immediately. Failing to do so could push them away and create a negative experience between you and the customer -- something they’ll tell their friends and family about.
There are two things you need to pay attention to here -- time and attitude. The longer you make customers wait, the more time you give them to find what they’re looking for elsewhere. Having a bad attitude with the customer won’t help the situation, either.
To solve this, many businesses are utilizing live chat and support chatbots that make itself available 24/7.
6. Return Policies
Building trust with customers that have yet to purchase your product or try your service is difficult, but offering a return policy that makes it easy for the customer is one of the best things you can do to soften the investment they’re making.
When they know they can return it if it’s not what they were expecting, they feel much more comfortable and almost view it as a sample because there’s no risk involved on their end. In addition to that, you gain customer insight when they tell you why they’re returning the product.
Since offering a return policy can become expensive for new businesses, you can always make the policy exclusive to loyalty members -- that way you also incentivize them to sign up with your loyalty program.
Once you have the return policy made up, make sure you post it everywhere for the customer to see. On product pages, the about page, contact page, FAQ page, and even the homepage of your site. Social media is another great tool for letting customers know.
7. Make Security a Priority
We live in a digital world and with that, we need to change the way we think. For those with brick-and-mortar shops, you understand how important it is to keep your customers safe when they enter through your doors -- it helps build trust with the customer.
The same thing needs to be done with online stores. With privacy being a huge concern on the internet and customer’s identity at stake, they need to feel safe when they visit your website. Making sure you use an HTTPS website, as well as use apps and plugins to further the security of your website is essential.
8. Content Is King -- Still
While many business owners have given up on content, it continues to be one of the single-most beneficial tools your business has on the internet today. It shows that your business is active, it gives the customers more value, and establishes yourself as a leader in your industry.
Building trust with content is extremely easy when you know what your customer wants and how to get it to them. Blogs are very popular today because it gives brands a chance to display their voice, vision, and expertise in a unique way.
Your content on social media is important too. Making sure you not only give the customers the content they need, but also interact with them and spark conversations to keep the connecting going is crucial to building trust with new customers.
Don’t give up on content. In fact, double it or even triple it. Your customers will notice, you’ll start to build an online presence, and you’ll start to see the customers flowing in.
9. Be Yourself!
When’s the last time you interacted with a company and felt like you were talking to a robot the whole time? This happens often in business today and it’s as unfortunate as it is ineffective.
Customers like doing business with real people. They want to feel heard, they want to know they’re being thought of, and they want to feel like they’re being helped. Those are three things most customers don’t get today.
You can change that. Don’t be scared to be yourself and let your customers see the personality or character in your business. Be human -- it’s what the customers want and it’s what your business needs.
Make your company feel real and your customers will reward you. They’ll connect with you and support your business through thick and thin.
If you need further assistance with building customer trust, don’t panic. Our team at Consultants In-A-Box is prepared to help you find success when getting your business started. Contact us today to discuss how we can help your business grow!
Top Ways to Build Customer Loyalty
There are so many different ways to build customer loyalty in your business, but it generally boils down to whether or not your customer has a positive experience when interacting with your business. Once you can build that loyalty, you’ll have customers that are willing to go out of their way for your business.
The best part is they’ll show this support and love in a variety of ways. Whether it be through glowing reviews on social media, wonderful recommendations to friends and family, or even through continuing to purchase your product/service, your customers will stand by you.
Without these customers, your business, brand, or idea will struggle to gain steam and grow into the powerhouse you imagined it could be. That’s why we like to call these customers your “VIP customers” or “brand champions,” but you can call them whatever you’d like.
Why Do We Need Loyal Customers?
One of the things we’ve heard many business owners ask is, “Why should I care how loyal they are? I already made money off them.” First off, it’s not all about making money off of them. Like we mentioned above, you also have to provide a positive experience.
Secondly, it’s not just one loyal customer you’re dealing with. With the way customers shop today, one loyal customer turns into another loyal customer -- which eventually grows into a loyal customer base that keeps your business running and growing.
Lastly, you can’t have customers that think bad about your business. Again, this isn’t just one customer because that customer will multiply. Eventually, you’ll have a lot of customers that are avoiding your business due to warnings from other customers.
In a recent study by Jay Baer, he concluded that 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family, while 70% trust reviews from anonymous consumers online. This high-trust rate means you need to rethink your strategy when interacting with customers.
That’s why it’s important to treat every customer your best, that way you’re constantly building and nurturing a culture of loyal customers.
So, How Do You Build Customer Loyalty?
Most business owners expect loyal customers to come as a result from being open for a long time or just through luck alone. Instead, loyal customers come as a result of hard work, dedication, commitment, and genuine gratitude toward the customer.
If you’ve been trying to build a loyal customer base, but haven’t had the luck you were hoping for, we’ve got several tips that will help you on your way:
1. Ask Your Customers
Never be afraid to reach out to your customers or clients and ask them for feedback about how they were treated, how their experience was, and what your business could’ve done better to provide a more memorable experience.
This can be done through surveys or by having a specified place on your website to accept suggestions/feedback. You can also make use of those emails you’ve been collecting and start a campaign. If customers truly want to see change in your company, they’ll let you know.
Ignite that change, and you’ll start to gain trust!
2. Respond to Reviews
While customers like to read the reviews of other customers before purchasing a product or signing up for a service, they also like to know how the business responded to that review -- if they responded to it. That’s why it’s important to always monitor your reputation online and respond to customers in a timely manner.
The key is to always stay positive when responding, always apologize, and always present a solution to the issue. This will show them that you’re here for them, not for yourself.
3. Incentivize Referrals
If you were wondering why you aren’t getting that many referrals, it might be because your customers aren’t being pushed to doing so. Sometimes, that’s all they need -- a little incentive to make it that much more worth it for them.
Get creative with this, but it doesn’t have to be anything crazy. Give them each a discount on their next purchase, or a free meal the next time they come in. Something that won’t cost you that much on the back-end, but something that they’ll appreciate nonetheless.
4. Loyalty Programs Work
In addition to incentivizing referrals, introducing a loyalty program can help increase your ability to build trust with customers. Offer a free meal after the purchase of five or a free item after spending a certain amount -- trust us, it works.
Those people that would normally only visit you once will suddenly start visiting you monthly and even weekly. This gives you more time to nurture their experience with your business and keep them interested in doing business with you long-term.
5. Give Back to the Community
Especially in a day and age like this, it’s extremely important to give back to your community and show that you’re more than just a business -- you’re here to help make life better for others in any way possible.
When there’s a local event going on, find a way to participate. If there’s a charity you have respect for, make a donation. You should always be looking for new ways to give back and show your business’ true colors so the rest of the community can see with their own eyes.
6. Customer Service Is Key
Of course, there’s nothing customers like more than being treated well. When you interact with a customer, you have to make them feel special and turn all your attention towards them. If you don’t, they’ll easily take their business elsewhere and talk bad about yours in the process.
Take the time to train your employees correctly and make sure you’re following all the right protocols when interacting with customers. You should also reassess those protocols often to make sure they meet evolving standards.
7. Consistency Helps
Another thing that’s essential to building a loyal customer base is being consistent. You can’t expect to keep a customer engaged with your business if you can’t consistently give them good products or service. They want to rely on you long-term, but only if you can prove it to them.
To solve this, make sure you and your employees are always following the best practices and protocols we discussed in the previous section. You should also ensure your employees know how to handle themselves in a high-pressure situation to avoid any mishaps.
8. Quality Over Everything
Last but not least, focusing on quality never hurts anyone or any business. It’s what the customers want, it’s what they expect, and it’s the only thing you should think about delivering when they need you.
Don’t cut any corners and always find ways to improve your company -- from top to bottom. Every little improvement will benefit the overall experience by the customer, so don’t take anything for granted here.
Don’t Stop There!
Once you start implementing the right strategies, you’ll see loyalty rise with customers. They’ll start engaging with your business more often and be more willing to spend their hard-earned money at your business.
If you want to enhance your connection with customers, social media can be a huge help. Your customers are already on there, they already use it frequently, and they likely already want you on there. Furthermore, it gives you an opportunity to show your business’ true colors and personality.
Ultimately, you have to figure out what your customers want and what they expect out of a company like yours. Once you can figure that out, you’ll know what needs to be done to satisfy them day-in and day-out.
Of course, you can always contact Consultants In-A-Box for more strategies, tips, advice, and assistance when building customer loyalty in your business. We can’t wait to help you find success with your customers and build a lasting relationship with them!