3 Ways You Can Better Meet Customer Needs Online to Boost Sales

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Offering the best possible online experience means you won’t miss out on valuable customers.

When the pandemic moved most of us online for a majority of our days, service providers moved to meet clients where they were: At home on their computer or phone.

For some, this was completely new. The provider may have never offered an online consultation before, while their customer may have never had a virtual financial or legal consultation before.

Despite the learning curves for all involved, providers such as marketing agencies, accountants, and lawyers have managed to do a pretty good job so far. In a recent Capterra survey of people who recently interacted with a service provider online*, 83% of respondents feel satisfied with recent online interactions with service providers.

While that satisfaction rate is certainly positive, the remaining 17% of respondents who feel either neutral or dissatisfied with their online interactions can’t be ignored. Now, more than ever, every sale counts. A happy client today may become a loyal customer for life, returning to your business when they need specific products or services.

3 tips to improve your online experience so you never miss out on a sale

Here are three actions you can take to provide a top-notch online experience to meet customer needs so they’ll want to hire you over and over again.

1. Stay on top of communication so clients are informed and want to renew their contracts

How you conduct business changed when the pandemic moved everything online, and your clients’ needs have changed, too.

Gartner research suggests that consumers want more communication, and they want that communication to be touchless, by staying informed digitally (full content available to clients).

“Be responsive,” said Max Gruber, director of Operations at FireCask. “Radio silence or poor communication can put real doubt in [clients’] minds. If you’re there for them during times like this, and you can help them pull through and grow, then they’ll be grateful down the line.”

Consistent communication helps to keep clients in the loop and builds trust in your brand, leading to contract renewals and a consistent customer base.

Software is key to online communication and can effectively manage how and when clients receive updates from you. Here’s what this looks like in practice.

Case study: Software helps but can’t replace personal connections

Julianne AutryJulianne Autry is an accountant and CEO of Financial Foothold, where technology and software applications have been essential in the company’s ability to communicate with clients.

Autry says that emails alone aren’t enough. “You still need to have a relationship with your clients beyond email and apps.”

In-person meetings are best for this, but when that’s not possible consistent phone and video calls can do the trick. In addition to calls with clients, Autry said it’s important that businesses demonstrate their commitment by quickly responding to client concerns and questions. Her rule of thumb? Respond within 24 hours—if not sooner.

“This conveys to the clients that we are engaged with them and on top of meeting their needs,” Autry said.

Tools such as customer communication management software and customer relationship management can help you deliver prompt, excellent customer service.

2. Keep your website relevant and easy to navigate so clients can (and want to) get in touch

Sometimes, the only thing standing between you and your clients is your own website. A poorly designed website can drive away clients who prefer the sleek user experience offered by your competitor.

Your website should be customer-centric. According to Gartner, you can easily find out whether or not it is (full content available to clients). Ask yourself:

  • Does my website map out product and service offerings according to our own perspective?
  • Do we use confusing language or industry-specific jargon?
  • Does our website offer disruptive interactions, such as sign-up pop-ups?
  • Does it take multiple clicks and actions to contact us or make a purchase?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it might be time for a website redesign.

Because your website is the mediator between you and clients—both potential and existing—you want to make sure it fits their needs and isn’t just a reflection of how you see your own company.

Technology presents a Catch-22 for some service providers: While it allows them to connect with clients when they are unable to meet in-person, it can often feel cold, impersonal, or robotic. Here’s how one lawyer went digital without becoming impersonal.

Case story: Going digital without becoming impersonal

Sara Witt

Sara Witt, a trademark and family law attorney and the owner of Witt Law, PLLC in West Virginia, says that while artificial intelligence (AI) can help professionals manage their workload by automating some routine processes, it needs to be balanced.

“If the only contact a client has from you is by email, or worse from your staff of AI, they are going to leave the interaction feeling just like a number,” Witt said.

While Witt relies heavily on technology to provide services, she uses video conferencing software to get face-to-face time with them. She says now is the perfect time for lawyers to work on their websites and to make sure it’s easy for clients to contact them. Her firm uses Calendly to make it easy for clients to schedule meetings via the website.

“Everyone is online now more than ever, and law firms need to capitalize on that by making sure they are accessible online,” Witt said. “This is a great way to not lose out on clients because, oftentimes, if people can’t schedule online, they will go on to the next firm.”

Technology alone can’t help you connect with clients; true connection that meets customer needs balances automation with personalization.

3. Ask for and implement customer feedback to show that you value your clients

Outsiders can often provide the most beneficial insights. In this case, an outsider is your client; someone who isn’t as close to the company and its inner workings as you or your employees.

Customer feedback can be crucial in identifying strengths and opportunities for improvement, but not all feedback is created equal.

According to Gartner, more important than feedback in general is making sure you get the right kind of feedback that will help shape new processes (full content available to clients). There are many types of feedback you can gather from surveys:

  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT) measures how happy a customer is with your company as it stands. (Ask: “How satisfied are you with your recent online interaction with our company?”)
  • Net promoter score (NPS) measures how willing a customer is to recommend your service to their network. (Ask: “How likely are you to recommend our services to a colleague or friend?”)
  • Customer effort score (CES) measures how easy a client’s interaction was. (Ask: “How easy or difficult was it to schedule your appointment?”)

Each of these types of feedback provide a different dimension of insight into your customer experience, and customer satisfaction software can help you manage the data you collect. But you have to ask the right questions at the right time to unlock the most valuable data.

Case story: Asking the right questions at the right time

Mark Hayes

Mark Hayes, the head of marketing at Kintell, believes in the power of feedback and the insights it offers.

According to Hayes, the best time to ask for feedback is right after an interaction. If you ask earlier in the process, the customer may not have valuable feedback yet. Ask too late, and the customer may forget the details.

“It’s paramount that you speak with your real customers while the sale is still fresh,” Hayes says. “When it comes to accruing online experience and truly making each sale count, this is the best method.”

Feedback doesn’t end at gathering data; you have to implement it and let customers know you used their suggestions. Hayes’ company uses customer feedback to change approaches and processes, but he warns against viewing feedback as a quick fix.

Instead, it’s a more gradual process that starts with asking the right questions at the right time.

Make your clients feel valued so they keep coming back

Providing a positive online customer experience nearly always circles back to communication. This means keeping clients informed with regular updates, quickly responding to their questions, maintaining open digital communication lines so they can easily reach you, and listening to their feedback.

Software can help you do it. Customer communications management solutions make it easier to schedule meetings, respond to concerns, and collect feedback so you don’t miss out on an opportunity to meet customer needs.

Ready to explore software options?

Survey methodology

Results based on Capterra’s November 2020 survey of 557 U.S.-based consumers who have interacted with a service professional online more than once in the past six months.

Looking for Customer Relationship Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Customer Relationship Management software solutions.

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About the Author

Toby Cox

Toby Cox

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Senior Content Writer @ Capterra covering software trends and stories of small business resilience. B.A. in Foreign Affairs and Middle Eastern Languages from the University of Virginia. Beekeeper and bookworm. Virginia native. I love yoga, getting lost in new places, and being outside.


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