Live chat solution providers often compare ecommerce websites to their brick and mortar counterparts. I have to admit, I really like this comparison.
Ok, there are some obvious differences between online and offline shopping.
Shoppers have different expectations, they have a different profile… But they are still people and the fact that they look at the FAQ before calling you doesn’t mean they prefer self service support.
If offline stores had a FAQ, I would also look at the FAQ first.
It doesn’t mean they could just get rid of their staff. Or forbid them to speak with customers.
The Internet Is Like 1 Huge Department Store
When we talk about online shopping, we talk about convenience, low prices or finding rare items we couldn’t find offline.
We don’t talk about the human side of it.
Because shopping online is cold. It is not human.
This turns the online world into 1 huge store where brands compete using their website instead or good packaging.
Picture this: Google is the store here. If you are on the first page, your product is at eye sight on the shelve. If you’re on the 2nd or 3rd page, you are hidden but still there.
People will take a quick look at your website and move on to the next one.
This is how a lot of us shop. I told you, convenience first!
It’s tough to be a small business out there.
Luckily, things are changing. They’ve been changing for a while now. You can build a brand online. You can build a relationship with customers. It’s a wonderful time to build an online business.
At CustomerIcare, we believe that there is a space online for the “small store experience”. We want to help small business recreate a local grocery store experience online.
It’s Time We Turn Online Shopping Into A Memorable, Human Experience
I started watching Shark Tank recently and became a little addicted to it.
The one thing I noticed is that the businesses that make it to 1 million + in revenues without any huge retail deal are the ones that took time to build a community online.
The other thing they have in common is that they solve a real problem and have a lot of passion for what they do.
That’s often what also sets small stores apart from big box stores offline. The challenge online is to be able to share that passion.
I’d say that nowadays, the online world makes it both easier and more difficult to connect with your customers. It is easy because you have a lot of options and hard because you need to really fight to get an audience.
First, what are your options?
– social media
– content marketing
– forums and communities
– real time communication channels
The first 3 options are about spreading the world and building a community around your product. The last one is about making your website a lot more human.
All 4 are used by small business owners to make the shopping experience more memorable.
How Passionate Business Owners Connect With Online Customers
The channels I listed above are just that: CHANNELS.
They will help you build an amazing experience for your customers if you use them right. Just using them is not enough.
I wrote an article about how important the people behind your live chat solution are. The same applies to social media, content marketing and everything else.
You could have 20 social media accounts, be a member of every forums out there and publish 10 articles a day and still fail. Numbers are not what matters. How you connect with potential customers is what matters.
About a year ago, I spent a lot of time on Pinterest talking to small business owners who were active there.
Some of them were small local businesses, some were running a bigger online store but all of them had one thing in common: They were passionate about their product and used Pinterest to share that passion.
You can spot passionate business owners really quickly on social media and the same goes for live chat.
Using A Live Chat Solution To Share Your Passion. Not Only For Support.
What I love about smaller stores is that they have a level of knowledge of the product and expertise that is really hard to find in bigger stores.
I, for example, know nothing about tea.
I’d honestly love to buy quality tea but I could really use some help. My best bet would probably be to go to a specialized store and ask for help.
The thing is I love to shop online and the ideal scenario for me would be to find an online tea store where I could still ask for help.
Live chat would be perfect here, as long as there is a knowledgeable person on the other side of the chat. If you are able to give me some advice on my first visit, I won’t even bother looking for another website. You just won yourself a customer for life!
We work with both big and small business at CustomerIcare and the way they use live chat is really different.
For big businesses, live chat is just another sales or support tool.
For small businesses, live chat is a way to connect with visitors we spent so much time attracting to our website.
Try adding a chat window to your website for a day and you will understand what I mean!
There is something unique about how we, as a small website, use live chat.
When we look at visitors browsing our website in real time, we don’t see numbers, we see people. New chats are not a drag, they are celebrated because we know how valuable conversations with customers are.
Customers don’t know that but they will notice the difference once they engage with you. As a small business every chat counts and the fact that we really care makes all the difference!