From Microsoft to Amazon.com, players in the heady waters of the Net are reliant on customer allegiance. Keeping a close check on some of the fundamental rules for maintaining long-term customer loyalty is therefore a primary concern for anyone whose brand or revenues are derived (whether wholly or partially) from a Web-presence.
Recently Gartner analyst Adam Sarner noted that maintaining an up-front Internet presence is crucial to engendering trust amongst wary online consumers. "To not establish online trust is ridiculous," he opined.
Failing to answer basic buyer questions - whether in B2B or B2C type scenario - is risking abandonment of the transaction. "Don't make it a game, where it looks like you're trying to hide something that could break the deal," counselled Sarner. "Tell people everything up front," he continued, "consumer mistrust is one of the primary reasons why most e-deals are abandoned."
When it comes to running a site, Sarner believes that responsiveness is the primary virtue. "There must be no delay in addressing user questions or queries that arise whilst they're browsing your site," he advised. Web sites must have effective 'panic button' options to answer questions that might arise in the midst of the buying or browsing process. Whether your 'panic button' takes the form of an e-mail response or a phone help line - responses must be instantaneous. "If you are going to make them wait two or three days for an e-mail response, you've lost the customer ... by the time you've gotten back to them, they've already moved on to something else."
Other straightforward but crucial additions to a web site include usage and navigation tips, and - in the case of e-tailers - product comparisons as well as up-to-date warranty, repair and shipping information. "You've got to do things to make customers feel that you're making their lives easier," stated Sarner.
Another detail that Sarner considers mission-critical is the relevancy of sales pitches and advertising that appears on the site. Often ads appear on a page that have absolutely no bearing on the featured content - something that in Sarner's mind negatively impacts not only on the advertiser but on the site hosting the ad.
"Relevant advertising and cross-selling pitches are mission critical," he averred.
Reprinted from sa.internet.com