Offline and Online Service

As brick and mortar retailers join the online community in an effort to reach more customers, many are at a loss for the appropriate marketing and customer service strategies for their virtual store. Used to face-to-face interaction in which a smile and a greeting could make a sale, traditional brick and mortar retailers are now faced with the challenge to connect with their customers in a less personalized way. Marketing and customer service, however, are about more than making the sale, and include building customer loyalty. It’s simpler than you think, as many offline marketing and customer service tactics can be applied to your online operation:

1) Create an experience worth talking about. Unable to shake your hand, your online customers want to obtain a sense of trust. Positioning yourself as a trusted authority in your industry will make you a valuable resource to your customers. Offer helpful how-tos, tips, suggestions and more. The goal is to make a lasting, positive impact with each and every customer. Since you are now operating online, you have the opportunity to make this lasting impression on more customers in a single day than in your store.

2) Stay in touch after the sale. Retailers are advised to follow up, whether online or offline. Offline opportunities, however, are limited by manual data entry of customer details, tracking birthdays, anniversaries or other relevant events. Online, customer details are easily stored and can be utilized if you want to share important information.

3) Reward loyalty. Simply stated, don’t let your buying customers go unnoticed. Retailers can thank these loyal customers by offering special online discounts, or even highlighting a customer of the month. It is all about showing appreciation.

4) Get involved with the community. Customers should see your store as a valuable asset to the community, whether it is online or offline. Retailers should always keep community in the forefront, promoting the business and its community involvement by posting stories, pictures and videos.

Running a store online or offline isn’t as different as some may think. There is only one rule for success, and that is to add value to your customers’ lives. For retailers looking to keep repeat customers and benefit from repeat sales, the cliché motto, “The customer is always right,” holds validity. Why is the customer always right? Simply, the customer knows what they want, what quality they expect, what price they plan on paying, and how they expect to be treated, wooed and wowed by the retailer, from beginning to end.

This story has been adapted from an original piece by Angela Epley, B2C Columnist.