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THE IMPORTANCE OF BUYER-SELLER DIRECT COMMUNICATION FOR YOUR ONLINE BUSINESS / MARKETPLACE
– SUPPORT TICKET, DIRECT INQUIRY & LIVE CHAT –
The 21st century with its phenomenal advances in science and technology, has ushered in an era of comfort and convenience never experienced before in human history. Yet, as will all good things in life, the grass is not always greener. There are just some instances where technology can never replace the importance of person-to-person connection and communication.
How many times have you faced a problem with a product or service you bought to which you had to find a quick and easy solution? With the most positive mindset, you pick up your smartphone and type in the number and dial . . .
“Hello! Thank you for calling XYZ Technology Partners. Your call is important to us. If you are a current client, please type in your customer number now. If you are a new client, please select 2.”
‘Oh gosh, where did I put that paper with my customer number again?’
You look all over your office, in the files on your computer, under the bed, but alas, by the time you manage to find the invoice, you are confronted with:
“You have taken too long to respond. Please press 1 if you want to continue this call. 2 to disconnect.”
You press 1.
“Thank you for calling XYZ Technology Partners. Your call is important to us. If you are a current client, please type . . .”
You type in your client details as fast as you can to shut up the robot lady’s annoying voice.
“Sorry. Our system does not recognize the number you entered. Please check if you have entered the correct number. Please insert your client number again carefully.”
You check, and indeed, the number you inserted is correct. Since there is not a real human being you can tell this to, you have no choice but to enter your client number again. Sigh!
“Sorry. The number you entered is not recognized by our system. Would you instead like to proceed to speak to a customer service agent? Please select 1 to speak to an agent, or 2 to start over.”
You select 1 grudgingly. ‘Of course I want to speak to an agent! That is why I called you in the first place,’ you scream out loud. ‘Agh! This is so frustrating!’
“Thank you for selecting to speak to a customer support agent. What would you like to do today? Select 1 to speak to a technical service agent. 2 for a card service agent. 3 for general inquires. 4 for sales.”
‘What the heck?! I thought I was being transferred to a customer service agent already?’
I bet you have run into the above scenario multiple times over the past years. The frustration, as well as lack of personalized communication provided by the majority of companies these days, are mind-bending long and complicated. Why? Perhaps we should start asking companies this very question and help them simplify their communication methodology.
To solve buyer-seller direct communication issues in your own online business or marketplace, you’ll have to find out what annoys your customers the most when they seek support. An overly complicated research study is not needed, nor paying a communication guru to ‘analyses’ your business’ communication problem. The answer can instead be found within yourself.
- What gets to you the most when you seek customer support?
- Do you get annoyed the moment you call for customer support only to be diverted from department to department via an automation system?
- Does the process take forever before you are finally connected to a real human being?
Unfortunately, automation within communication has brought about a distaste to customers who want to find a solution quickly and easily. Instead of dealing with an adult human being that can sort out their problem in a couple of seconds, automation systems are often time-consuming, frustration middle-men that are not required for small, medium, and solo online businesses. If you overly complicate or create a too lengthy communication and support structure for your online business or marketplace, you will start noticing your customer support ratings and overall review scores going down the drain.
EXAMPLE OF OVER-COMPLICATING CUSTOMER SUPPORT & COMMUNICATION:
“Thank you. Welcome to our technical department. Please select 1 if your technical issue is related to a mobile phone. 2 if your technical issue is related to a laptop. 3 if your issue is related to a desktop.”
You select 2.
“Thank you. Please select 1 if your technical mobile issue is related to a Samsung phone. 2 if your technical mobile issue is related to a Nokia. 3 if your technical mobile issue is related to . . . “ (And on and on the list goes.)
You select 2.
“Thank you. Please select 1 if your mobile phone is still under guarantee by XYZ Technology Partners. 2 if your guarantee has expired.”
You select 1.
After nearly 8-minutes, you are finally through all the questions and transferred to an agent.
“Thank you. Please select 1 if you would like to speak to a customer support agent. 2 to return to the main menu.”
You select 1.
“Thank you. Please hold the line. . .”
Holding . . . holding . . . holding . . .
“All our customer service agents are currently busy. We will tend to your call as soon as possible. The general waiting time is between 4 – 10 minutes. Thank you for your patience.” Annoying song starts to play . . .
“For heaven’s sake! Can you not just have a real human being on the other side of the damn phone?! I could have explained my problem in 2-min to them instead of the 10-minutes I have just wasted, and I have not even spoken a single word to an agent yet!”
RESEARCH PROVES THE IMPORTANCE OF SIMPLIFIED BUYER-SELLER DIRECT COMMUNICATION IN AN ONLINE BUSINESS / MARKETPLACE
According to findings by Bain & Company, a customer is four times more likely to buy a product from your competitor if they encountered service-related issues from your online business or marketplace. (Even if the competitor’s product is more expensive). Furthermore, you would need 12 positive customer experiences to make up for 1 negative review (Understanding Customers).
Statistics from a report by Salesforce titled, State of The Connected Customer, found that 70% of customers will support a business again if the customer service or support agent treated them well and was knowledgeable.
- 80% of customers said they prefer quality service and would pay more for a product if customer service and communication was good.
- 27% of Americans said they find ineffective customer service as the major frustration when they seek help, with the major headache being ineffective communication from the customer service agent.
- A close second is the lack of speed to their inquiries and the mode of communication such as automation services that take forever to get through.
In almost all research findings, customers preferred direct communication methods, whether via live chat, email, or a direct call. Online marketplaces especially found that 84% of customers preferred 24/7 live chat, and a ticket system works best.
THE EFFECT OF GOOD OR ‘BAD’ COMMUNICATION ON CUSTOMER BEHAVIOR & REVIEWS IN YOUR ONLINE BUSINESS / MARKETPLACE
As an online business or marketplace owner, it is important to understand how vital buyer-seller direct communication to the success of your business is. Without it, you will certainly experience complaints and negative reviews.
It’s essential to sort out your buyer-seller direct communication system ASAP. There is a large amount of free communication software available such as live chat for your website or using Messenger from Facebook. WhatsApp, SnapChat, and various other apps are also widely used since such a large number of customers today use these modes of communication daily. Apart from online chat functionality, invest in a call system for those customers who prefer quick and direct communication.
If you already have a direct buyer-seller communication system in place for your online business or marketplace but are still experiencing problems, you will need to find where the problem is. Do your customer service agents have the knowledge they need to serve your customers well? Are they trained in professional customer service etiquette? Which communication systems are you using, and are these the preferred method by your online business or marketplace customers?
What Has Changed?
Only a while ago, traditional marketing was centered and focused on corporate, mass-market proportions, and family tradition. Today, marketing has morphed into a relationship-based giant due to the large number of millennials and Gen X that is now of working age. Brick-and-mortar has been replaced by online marketplaces, with instant access to products and services that can be shipped worldwide. The most significant change though for marketplaces is communication methods and customer service relations.
Most clientele visiting online businesses or marketplaces want quick and easy access to information about your products and services. They are focused on value for money and pour over review after review to ensure your product will meet their demand. Word of mouth (WOM) is crucial to Millennials and Gen X, who are more likely to purchase a product based on the reviews of other customers. Effective pre-sales communication is essential to marketplace customers since they want information now and then.
Once your customers decide to purchase your product, online business, or marketplace, customers prefer a quick and seamless checkout process that offers various payment methods, which is then followed by excellent customer service and aftercare support should they run into trouble.
Agnihotri et al. (2009) perhaps, summarizes it best in their research paper title, Understanding The Role Of Information Communication In The Buyer-Seller Exchange Process: Antecedents And Outcomes (Journal Of Business & Industrial Marketing):
“As the traditional marketing practice has been complemented with relationship-based marketing, the task of salespersons has changed from merely selling products to offering solutions to customers’ problems.” (Agnihotri et al., 2009).
“… One needs to bear in mind that respondents agreed with the statements that said that not meeting expectations as far as provided information is concerned will have a negative effect on all areas of relations. A confirmation of these findings is the worldwide survey of industrial buyers that suggests that more than half perceive their sales contact as a business partner and expect to receive quality advice on products or services.” (Agnihotri et al., 2009).
If your direct buyer-seller communication falters in the pre-sales phase, a possible customer will move on to the next business or marketplace in a heartbeat. According to McKinsey & Company, 70% of customers buy from a marketplace or online business based on how they are treated during (1) pre-sales, (2) how they are communicated to, and (3) post-sales support. As such, it is important to pay attention to how support and communication are handled in your online business or marketplace.