How To Establish Trust And Connect With Customers OnlineNovember 11, 2020 (0 comments)
London, UK—In its 2020 Diamond Insight Report, released Monday, De Beers emphasized that the global COVID-19 pandemic has hastened already-emerging trends in how consumers shop. Most notably, online is much more important than it was nine months ago. Although many consumers still prefer face-to-face transactions at a physical store—even in the pandemic—the two channels now share space in a “phygital” world that jewelers ignore at their peril.
Related: De Beers 2020 Diamond Insight Report Explores Consumer Opportunity In The ‘New Normal’
The pandemic has accelerated online interactions, says De Beers’ report. Consumers who might have been resistant to buying jewelry online are more comfortable with online browsing and even purchasing. For retailers, this means their website cannot be treated as an afterthought to the physical store. It needs to establish trust (essential for any transaction, but particularly online), and it needs to offer a version of what you provide physically in-store.
But knowing that you need to do something is not the same as knowing how to do it. The following tips from the report will help retailers ensure their websites are ready to meet changing consumer needs and demands.
1. Create trust. There are proven “rules” for establishing trust and communicating credibility online. You must communicate quality at the visceral/ emotional level. First impressions count, and you must communicate positively with the non-conscious (but highly judgmental) emotional parts of your customers’ brains. Key factors are:
- Professional look and feel of your site. The layout, typography, spacing, high quality product shots, et cetera all have the ability to command immediate ‘surface’ trust. Your online presence should be of the same quality as your physical presence.
- Ease of use and usability. Ensure the site is well-organized, effective, efficient to use, and free from errors. (Loading speed is important too; read about that here.)
- Quality copy and content. Avoid meaningless, repetitive copy written specifically for search engines rather than humans. Instead, provide concise, structured, meaningful, accessible content (which will also perform well with Google search results)
- Up-to-date content. Show the website (and presumably your business) is well-maintained and cared for.
- Display third party verifications and reviews! What others say about you (“reputed” trust) carries more weight than what you say about yourself. Show professional affiliations, associations and industry awards, and include reviews and customer endorsements/quotations. Be aware of what prospective customers are saying about your brand online outside of your site. Many will search elsewhere for reviews for large purchases.
2. Highlight that a real organization with real people exists behind the site.Many consumers are uncomfortable buying from brands they don’t know or from a “faceless” organization:
- Make your physical address(es) easy to find on the site. Include pictures, phone number, and a map.
- Name the people behind the store, include bios highlighting their roles and expertise, and consider featuring photos.
- Consider extending your reach via blogs and social media presence.
3. Highlight your real expertise and experience. Expertise is the second essential component of credibility (in addition to trustworthiness):
- Provide thought leadership, expert opinion, and advice to customers. This could be via blogs, on social media, via callouts on product pages, or more direct and personal via online chat features on your website, Q&As, and even video calls.
- Show longevity if possible. For example, when the store was established, historic blog posts or company history or timeline.
4. Make it easy to get in contact and be responsive. Do so in a way that suits the customer:
- Provide a variety of contact channels, including email, phone, click-to-call, contact form, social media, live chat/messaging, and consider options like video chat.
- Ensure responses, regardless of channel, are as immediate as possible. This means all channels must be checked very regularly, as customers demand immediate gratification, and attentiveness is expected. (Editor’s note: you don’t have to pay someone 24/7, but you do have to set up an automatic response for customers that reach out in the middle of the night. It can be straightforward “We will return your query as soon as our business opens at 9 a.m.” or humorous, “Hey, we’re sleeping now. We’ll call you back as soon as we open and have had our coffee, at 9 a.m.!”)
There are some unique but important considerations for selling jewelry or luxury items online when the physical product cannot be touched and experienced in-store. In particular, sizing and delivery are foremost concerns for consumers shopping online. To help:
- Provide clear size guides, reference size cues such as pictures on a model or other visual measurement tools to indicate size. Perhaps provide a virtual try-on experience, where the customer can at least see themselves “wearing” an item.
- Ensure you have a clear and fair returns policy. This also ties back into the issue of trust, because if a consumer knows they can easily return something, they’re much more likely to trust you enough to make the purchase. If they have to return it and that process is handled smoothly, they’re more inclined to buy something else, either immediately or later on.
- Make sure your returns process is intuitive to provide flexibility to the customer.
- Delivery can present a barrier to the immediate satisfaction of purchasing in a physical store. Offer fast delivery options, including same-day delivery if possible. This provides the near-immediate gratification of shopping in-store, and reinforces your personal service/trust factor.
- Security and safety of delivery are also key consumer concerns, especially with high-value items. If you’re not delivering the purchase yourself, use a trusted and well-known carrier that will ensure all appropriate safety and security measures are adhered to. Reputation of those you choose to work with is another important factor in trusting you.
- Provide alternatives such as BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store) or delivery
to offices, or establishing an exact delivery/pickup time so customers don’t have to worry if they’re not home.
Finally, as the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to be with us through the holiday selling season, De Beers’ report offers some tips to help reassure customers. Some customers with high-risk health concerns will opt out of physical shopping altogether; some customers will shop in person but do as much as they can in advance to minimize the amount of time in a store; and others are entirely comfortable with in-person shopping. Here are De Beers’ tips for signaling the safety of your physical store to all customers:
- State the steps you are taking, ensuring you are in-line with local guidelines, and highlight where additional steps have been implemented. For example, this could be as a temporary banner that inserts at the top of all your web pages until closed by the user.
- Consider some visual reinforcement of the safety steps with photos, where appropriate.
- Consider a by-appointment arrangement to reduce crowds in-store. Limited capacity might be mandatory in your area anyway, but this can also add to a feeling of specialness/personal service.
- Highlight safe and easy collection and/or delivery methods.
- Offer alternatives to a visit or a ‘pre-filter’ before a visit. One-to-one video calls (or equivalent) allow you to give personalized service, offer advice, and show your expertise without the need for a physical visit. Keep these real and authentic, and aim for the same personal connection as in a real visit.
- Following a phone, video or chat consultation, create a shortlist of potential products (which could be tried on in-store or potentially at home for selection).
By focusing on the factors that communicate trust and taking a few extra steps to anticipate customer needs will help in the challenging short term and also build long-term positive customer engagement.