Monday, November 20, 2017

How to Create Great Customer Experiences When Service and Fulfillment are in Someone Else's Hands

This post originally appeared on the Janusian Gallery blog. Minor text changes have been made.

Running an online business? We do lots of research on why people buy online vs at brick and mortar businesses. Most of the numbers we've seen indicate that 90-95 percent of retail shopping is done at a physical location. (Not as surprising as it may seem given that big ticket items like cars, boats, major appliances, etc. are things you definitely want to experience in person (not to mention items that can be extremely difficult and/or costly to ship.) But regardless of ***where*** someone buys, the ***how*** of what someone buys makes a world of difference.

Our sister company Janusian Gallery designs for several print-on-demand vendors, including Zazzle, RedBubble, Society6, FineArtAmerica, Curioos, Merch by Amazon, and ImageKind. (See links at right.) Each company was carefully vetted at the time we joined to make sure their fulfillment standards were acceptable. We know firsthand that it can occasionally be scary to rely on someone else to help manage our brand. Following are some tips and techniques for creating an optimal customer experience.

1. Only work with companies with a great reputation for customer service. This can be hard to ascertain, because people who are dissatisfied with a particular vendor / manufacturer are more likely to leave feedback than those who are satisfied. Visit the web site and navigate around it the way a prospective customer would. Is the interface intuitive? Can you easily get to information and information you need? Ask Customer Service questions about a particular product and see if you get a prompt response. You get the idea.

2. Create great designs and content. One thing you can control is the quality of your designs and the accompanying text. While search engine optimization (SEO) best practices seem to change daily, the concept behind them hasn't: search engines reward web pages that deliver useful information and penalize zen those that don't. So use meaningful tags /keywords. Write product copy that makes site visitors comfortable, willing, and happy to buy your product.

3. Put your designs on the right products. Your customers want to feel that you really understand them and their wants and needs. We use personae (target customer "characters") to help predict what designs will attract which audiences and which products are most appropriate for those designs. For example, we'd never put a cartoon targeting toddlers on a cigarette lighter or a grownup-themed design on a baby bib. We also create sets of items to facilitate one-stop shopping.

4. Leverage all that technology has to offer. We love our print-on-demand vendors because they make it easy for buyers to order just the right item, in the right size, and customized to be truly one-of-a-kind. Help your customers create unique products by designing templates that are easy to use. Worried that computer technology makes it too easy for buyers to find someone else's product? Make your own pages so compelling that there's no reason to look elsewhere. Remind shoppers to pin or bookmark your pages to make them easy to find again. Be responsive to emails and text messages.

5. Buy samples of your own work occasionally. Odds are, the company won't treat your order any differently than anyone else's. (Which is just what you want if you're measuring the customer experience.)

6. Bring manufacturing issues to the manufacturer's attention. Got a bad review or a refund request? Our customers don't differentiate between us and our P.O.D. manufacturers. Nor should they. Ultimately, it's our responsibility to ensure a quality buying experiences from start to finish.

Does your company face similar challenges maintaining the integrity of the customer experience? What's worked for you? Leave us a comment below.

- Lynne Sabean

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

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