Together Dubai and Abu Dhabi house some 4.7 million square metres of shopping space. In a country that boasts one of the highest ratios of shops per capita in the world, consumers have been understandably slow to take to online shopping.
But, bolstered by the heavy growth in internet accessibility and the rise in smartphone proliferation — at 78 per cent the nation’s smartphone penetration ranks the highest in the world — the last few years have swept in a change, and the total value of e-commerce has now grown to $2.5 billion. Latest forecasts project this value will climb up to $10 billion by 2018.
E-commerce, therefore, is a trend worth capitalising on. But make no mistake: online customers have high expectations when it comes to service. For online retailers, drawing visitors to your site is only half the battle. Turning them into customers is what truly matters — especially when your competitors are only a click away.
The most effective way to set your business apart is by providing an outstanding customer experience and support that your competitors can’t match. A great customer experience not only differentiates, but it also drives repeat purchases and growth.
Below are five ways to ensure your company is ready to engage and support your online customers, and help you earn their loyalty, advocacy and wallet share.
* Deliver better self-service to meet customers’ needs and offset call volume
When used appropriately, self-service channels are a win-win for both customers and businesses. Customers get the help they need seamlessly, minimising wait time, and companies lower support costs by eliminating many routine agent-assisted inquiries.
With self-service channels such as FAQs and auto answers, your organisation can allow customers to find quick answers to common questions, deflect inbound communication using keyword triggers that intelligently serve customers with the information they need for routine inquiries, and create thresholds for how many times customers try self-service before escalating to a live-agent.
* Make contact information easily accessible to capitalise on every opportunity and increase conversions
A near majority of mobile customers rank easy-to-find contact options for support as the number-one factor for ensuring a good mobile experience — two times as important as other factors, in fact. Making it easy for customers to quickly reach an agent with accessible contact information or live chat enables you to ensure swift problem resolution which deters frustration and abandoned purchases, increases conversion rates and boosts customer loyalty and retention.
* Utilise proactive engagement to reduce cart abandonment and boost average order value
Sixty-six per cent of online consumers abandon their purchase because of problems with the payment process.
Proactive chat with triggers based on a pre-defined set of visitor behaviours delivers effortless engagement experiences, at the right time, with the right message or offer. Using website analytics helps determine which pages to utilise proactive chat on, and when to send an invitation for optimal impact. This results in higher site engagement, increased conversions and average order value, and fewer abandoned carts.
* Engage with your customers through their preferred channel to improve satisfaction
As the number of available communication channels increases, so do the chances that a customer will use multiple channels to get their issue resolved. This is driven by different preferences depending on the situation and the device they are using.
But serving up a variety of options isn’t enough.
Customers also want an effortless, seamless experience across all touchpoints with your brand. They expect customer service reps to have access to and knowledge of their entire customer journey for a fast, painless resolution. And, in what may be a surprise for some, your customers don’t want to get their support via social media — they only go to social if you have already provided them with a poor service via their preferred channel.
Don’t know what their preferred channel is? Then ask them!
That’s the power of e-commerce, you get to ask and adjust at every point in the cycle. Don’t use the old rules of brick-and-mortar — this new channel is truly different.
* Execute a mobile engagement strategy that capitalises on the unique needs of these on-the-go customers
Mobile devices are becoming a much more important part of the shopping experience, especially in the Middle East and North Africa region, where 43 per cent e-commerce transactions take place over mobile channels, in comparison to 39 per cent globally. As mobile usage rises, so does the level of services mobile customers expect.
To remain competitive companies need a defined mobile engagement strategy that requires consideration regarding agent training, the types of tools used and the way in which success is measured. Mobile services must also incorporate self-service capably to prevent escalation because customers tend to be on the go.
The writer is Vice-President of Global Marketing at LogMeIn.
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