Like many, I am grateful for the technology to conduct business, hold meetings, and purchase products virtually and online. However, let us not forget it is just one channel in business commerce. I understand that COVID-19 has forced many businesses to pivot for survival, but I caution some businesses regarding putting all their eggs in the online basket.
Relationships still matter. We are human beings made for connection and interaction. The online experience is void of human contact. Sure, it can be efficient, although my personal experience is many retailers get a big, fat F in user-friendly websites for their shoppers. I love Kohls and Bed Bath and Beyond, yet I will never use their online shopping ever again. What would have taken me 10 minutes in the store was a 50-minute ordeal. That’s just unacceptable. And since no person was involved, I have no loyalty to return. I moved on and got what I needed elsewhere.
Let me compare that to Staples. I can order anything I need for my business online, yet I choose to go into my local store. 1) I like to support local jobs. I know it is a national chain, but people who live in my community work there. 2) I appreciate the ability to ask questions and get a real-live person to answer! I am in my Staples on a regular basis, so when my brand-new lap top was gobbling up my data faster than I could save it, the manager was willing to step in and help. If I went to Dell directly, they would have taken my computer (my business and life!) for 7 to 9 weeks to determine what was wrong and if they would fix it. Arg! My manager said, “We are a bigger player with Dell, and we can return it as defective.” He handed me a new laptop on the spot. Why? 1) He understands excellent customer service. 2) We have a relationship. How loyal am I now? It is much harder to discount and discard a face, a person you know. Online, we are just a number, and your business is just a means to an end. If a customer doesn’t like your price or delivery date, they will go elsewhere in a nanosecond.
My caution is this: Online business isn’t for everyone. When a business goes online, you are losing the personal touch. People are willing to pay more for great customer care, so online, you must compete on price and delivery. In today’s competitive marketplace, that an destroy profits for smaller businesses.
I predict a shift to personal experience once the dust settles with COVID-19. I believe people will be sick and tired of non-human purchases, mix ups, wrong deliveries, computerized assistance that gets them nowhere, and they will be hungry for good-old-fashioned, in-person customer care. Certain industries, products and services lend themselves well for online commerce, but for many others it should only be an option not the whole enchilada. Sellers beware!
To learn more about Customer C.A.R.E., contact me. I have an outstanding training to elevate your customer experience, build customer loyalty and increase sales.