I love getting good service. I stayed at a hotel recently which had great service and it’s the little things that count. It’s knowing my name when I walk out the front door, it’s giving me options to change things to make them more personalised for me and it’s taking that extra little step to have my room ready early. Of course, in a nice hotel it’s also the overall appearance, cleanliness and grandeur which adds to the experience.
I walked out of my hotel last week very satisfied with my stay at the hotel and immediately vowed to stay there the next time I’m in town. So what if we could translate this type of experience into the online environment. What would a 5 star experience and good service look like online that would keep people coming back? Here are my top five ways to provide good online service:
- Every element of the online experience needs to look professional and have time and effort put in to make the experience memorable. This isn’t purely about look and feel, but also translates to usability and how people find things on your site. If it was easy for a visitor to come to your site and achieve their goals in a user friendly and nice environment, they are sure to remember you.
- Take the time to get to know your customers. Many sites now know a registered users first name and welcome them to the website accordingly however it’s time to take the step beyond this and learn something about a user that makes their experience with you relevant. This can be something they experience on site or off (eg email). In the most simplest form, if I’m a website member and I live in Brisbane, don’t send me something related only to Sydney-siders.
- Take the extra step with your options. In my hotel I had “pillow menu” allowing me to select for free an alternative type of pillow if I wanted. Options equate to personalisation and increased service – even if they are not for everyone. Sometimes sites need to offer different service levels for those that want it – let people select to receive their product faster, get a higher response time or something that goes above and beyond – even if there is a premium cost related to it.
- Every touch point needs consistency. With many web businesses, the business extends offline so there is no point having a great online experience if as soon as the consumer touches another channel that experience is ruined. Make sure you have a professionalism and commitment to client service that translates throughout your whole organisation.
- Don’t expect service to come at no cost. Unfortunately I still meet a number of companies who think that having a website is just a tick in the box. If you are serious about your website and if it is a valuable part of your business, it needs to be treated as such. Ultimately all well performing websites need to have a life and a plan of their own. How can it continue to exceed customers expectations, how will it grow with changing consumer needs, how can you leverage the latest technology? These things cost money so you need your website to have a realistic budget as well as goals and targets to meet.