Whenever someone asks me about the secret to guaranteeing repeat business I always say there is one magic word: relationship. As my father taught me when I was a teenager, generating repeat business is easy; it’s all about creating and building relationships; the customer is a person first, customer second. He owned a successful menswear store in New Jersey. The same holds true today, in brick and mortar or for e-commerce. If any organization wants to learn how to generate repeat business for e-commerce, study the master, Mitchell Family of Stores. Jack Mitchell is chairman and also the author of two must-read books, Hug Your Customers and Hug Your People. Jack and his entire family understand that creating and building relationships in an e-commerce world is just as important as for brick and mortar.
The team at Mitchells wanted their customers who are coddled, nurtured and loved in their stores to be able to conduct business and receive good customer service online in the same way. They did not want customers to get lost in an electronic environment filled with robotic encounters. So they structured their e-commerce site as a remote store making customers feel welcomed, valued and appreciated at every click. Personalization is key; building relationships is a must.
Go on their site, sign up as a customer and you will quickly learn why they are the masters of e-commerce.
1) When you register, you don’t receive a “do not reply to this email” as your first communication. Instead you get an instant response from Norma, the e-commerce concierge. The communication instantly makes you feel welcome.
Welcome to your new M World account! You can now access M World to view your account details, closet, services and more. If you didn’t request to create an online profile, please reply to this email or call the E-Concierge Desk at 1-844-HUGS (1-844-855-4847) and we will be happy to assist you.
Thank you for visiting our new online boutique!
E-Concierge for Mitchells
firstname.lastname@example.org / 1-844-855 HUGS (4847)
2) After your account is created, the icon on the top bar says, “Welcome Richard”
3) A heading then appears: At your service with all of your account details, personal recommendations and more!
4) The customer is given a choice to either self-serve or communicate directly with a style advisor. The site displays a message, “Your favorite Style Advisors from our stores are also available to offer the same personalized service online.
Whether you’re working on a new look or with pieces you own, they’ll review your selections online and make recommendations to help you define your personal style and build a well thought-out wardrobe.”
5) When you click on the style advisor’s photo, the information displayed turns the photo into a person. It provides their store location, start year, a short bio, favorite fashion quote, life quote, past style icon, present style icon and must-have wardrobe essential. And, of course, a link is provided to their email and direct telephone line. It could be someone you already work with at one of their store locations or a person you wish to be your advisor and style consultant. If it’s someone you did not know before, you certainly know him or her now.
6) Click on the icon for your account and a wonderful and colorful screen appears with your account details, online orders, wish list, virtual closet (which contains your past sales, sizes and colors), local store, alterations, reserve in your store and messages.
7) When you put your cursor over a product on the site, a little heart is displayed. That is also a nice and warm touch.
The majority of all e-commerce sites treat their customers like widgets in a factory instead of a valued asset. Here is a simple list to make e-commerce a more human experience:
- Make the customer feel welcome
- Give them control by offering a self help option or to work with a personal advisor
- Provide the customer with their purchasing history
- Provide email, chat, and phone numbers to communicate with a person who can assist
These steps must be at the core of every site.
When my father taught me repeat business was all about creating and building relationships e-commerce was not something he could have ever envisioned. However, my dad would have admired how the Mitchell Family of Stores created their online experience to match the personalized service provided when customers walk into their beautiful physical stores.
E-commerce without the human touch is making your business totally vulnerable to the hundreds of third-party sellers who can offer your products and services at a lower cost. Focusing on cost, instead of personalization, will create a downward spiral of lost revenues and diminishing profits.
Learn from the master: Mitchell Family of Stores. They are the masters of the human-to-human experience.