Covid-19 has altered many aspects of our lives, including our purchasing habits. So, it’s no surprise that an increasing number of customers are making online purchases on a regular basis. Likewise, consumers are becoming more particular about their in-person experiences. BBB reminds business owners that providing a positive online and offline experience is one of the keys to success during and as we move past these uncertain times.

“Providing excellent customer service is a team effort,” said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB serving Central East Texas. “With so many options, even the slightest negative experience can cause a business to lose customers to their competitors.”

BBB offers the following customer experience best practices:

· Provide exceptional customer experiences in person. The key to providing excellent customer service is to ensure the customer feels important and valued at each point of the sales process. This includes the marketing messages they receive even before they enter your building and the communications they receive after they have made the purchase

· Provide exceptional customer experiences online. Your website can be a powerful tool. However, it can also work against you. Make sure the user experience is one which converts shoppers to customers rather than one which turns them away. Have a third party evaluate your site’s effectiveness in design, navigation, content quality, search engine optimization, and functionality, and have them suggest modifications to improve the website. Go to bbb.org to find a website design and digital marketing company you can trust.

· Clearly define shipping time frames and provide text or email notifications. This time frame should be realistic and the customer should be updated if there are any changes or delays. Email or text notifications will allow customers to track their packages on their own without having to contact the business for status updates, which will pull staff away from other pressing issues.

· Provide a reliable way for customers to communicate with you. It’s important to have a contact phone number where the customers can call, an email address which is monitored, and a mailing address for customers who choose to communicate via mail. Have processes in place to respond to the customer in a timely manner.

· Track issues, responses and resolutions to issues. Ensure all your customers are getting issues resolved in a timely manner. A dissatisfied customer will tell between 9-15 people about their poor experience. But businesses can turn a negative experience into a positive one…research also indicates that a company is 97% more likely to retain a customer with whom an issue is resolved.

· Create a loyalty program. Rewards programs track and incentivize a customer’s spending behavior, which, over time, build loyal customers out of an existing customer base. Customers who enroll in a loyalty programs re-purchase 35% more frequently.

· Encourage reviews. Not only are reviews a good way to stay in touch with your customers’ experiences, among other things, they also help increase your company’s visibility and expand the conversation about your company.

For more information on how to be a savvy consumer, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, go to BBB Scam Tracker.