We live in an age of intense online interaction, but low interpersonal connection. Even in casual settings we now see that people don’t chit-chat as much as before. And it’s hard to understand why, because human beings are social animals who crave connection. According to research, people with strong social ties are generally happier and live longer.

The same applies to interactions on the web. True online connection is limited at best. While most e-commerce sites offer phone and chat support, these are usually handled by entry-level employees who are untrained in sales tactics, and may even lack empathy.

If your e-commerce website is simply meeting basic requirements, it isn’t doing enough. Fortunately, many third-party tools are now available in the market that meet the most basic requirements right out of the box.

Today, we will focus on ways you can humanize your e-commerce brand and how it can have a major impact on the way customers perceive your business. Here’s how some of the top businesses have created a brand persona that’s more than just a storefront that sells.

Get some human feedback

First things first, let’s get down to some research. The most effective customer research I found – in terms of both time and money invested – was speaking with customer service agents.

Talking to experienced customer agents will likely give you a clear understanding of customer challenges and expectations. These agents speak to thousands of customers, and their knowledge can be turned into pure conversion gold.

All you need to do is speak with 3-5 agents with six months or more of experience. A few hours is all you need to know 90% of what these agents require. This information should be enough to help you with the early ‘humanization phase’ of your website.

The insights you’ll gather from the experience, and the resultant website updates are sure to boost your baseline conversion rate.

Provide the human touch

Your primary goal should be to befriend your visitors and customers. It’s an idea that’s been around for years but remains minimal in practice. There’s magic in humanized marketing, and you can see it working when it compels a customer to visit a website.

How to differentiate between propaganda and humanized marketing?

Here’s an example of two emails I received from an e-commerce giant;

a) Propaganda – how email marketing doesn’t work

Now, I had expressed zero interest in furniture online, which made this a blanket propaganda email around President’s Day promotions. It is an example of poor email marketing. No connection was made, and I sent the email straight to my trash.

b) Tailored marketing – humanized approach:

Now, this is what you call marketing with a human touch. For an e-commerce website, this is as close to ‘a friend’ as it gets.

I received this email as I was searching for deals on new computers. I eventually ended up buying HP, but Amazon was able to make a connection with me. And that’s the important part. Here’s what I feel the website is saying to me, ‘Hey Manam, I know you were looking for Dell laptops. So here are some deals. Maybe you’d like something.’

c) Build lasting relationships

A few months ago, I ordered a few dresses from a local Pakistani brand called Lulusar. Three days after the delivery date I was still waiting. I opened up the website’s live chat and complained. I got an immediate response from a representative who gave me a quick and updated delivery date and solved my problem in less than 3 minutes. I wrote a positive review.

Less than five days after receiving the parcel, I received a handwritten ‘Thank you’ note from none other than the representative who had solved my issue. Lulusar could have processed their order and made money. I was already a customer. But their follow-ups and approach to customer satisfaction have me poised to become a long-term customer. Therefore, quality, service and a bit of caring are the top qualities I look for in a brand.

Courtesy

Make every customer experience count

Customers and visitors have very little patience when it comes to bad online experiences. Consider these statistics;

  • One poor experience is all it takes for 60% of customers to be less loyal to a brand.
  • 80% of website visitors will inform others about a poor website/ app experience.
  • In fact, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key quality differentiator by 2020.
  • On average, a typical business hears from merely 4% of its dissatisfied customer base, while 96% of customers don’t voice complaints and 91% will never return.

  • And finally, its good to remember that any business that deals with people is in the ‘people’ business.

It all comes down to one thing; every interaction you have with a customer matters. The key takeaway here is to outperform in the area of customer satisfaction.

‘Always deliver more than expected.’ – Larry Page.

Therefore, if you’re in the e-commerce business, become obsessed with customer experience.

Continuous Communication

What happens most often is that communication between the brand and the customer plummets as soon as a purchase is complete. When to engage a customer in a journey and how often is a science. Businesses that create lasting relationships with clients successfully are engaged in continuous communication and nurturing.

In fact, according to these statistics, it takes 5 times as much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one. So the focus of your business should be to reach out to customers post-purchase and keep the conversation going. It is also true that 65% of a company’s business comes from its existing customer base. The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70% while that of a new customer is just 5-20%.

The critical question here is; how do you want your customers to remember your brand? It is extremely important to really curate an experience that’s truly representative of your brand.

What you want to do is provide an experience that evokes an emotional response. Outperform your competition, deliver your product faster, and provide a uniquely enthralling experience. That’s how you’ll begin to humanize your brand’s experience.