4 Ways to Uncover Your Web Visitors’ Needs

In any business it’s important to understand your customers. When planning, it’s necessary to come up with buyer personas based on who you think your customers are going to be. These give you a good indication of how you should design your site, the branding you’ll use in terms of tone of voice, color and more. Getting into the customer’s mind and determining what they really want though is something that’s not quite as straightforward.

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As Steve Jobs maintained:
“It's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them.”

This holds true for all products and customers across every industry. So it’s not enough to hold focus groups, or ask customers to complete surveys, as they’re pretty fickle and because they don’t really know what they want either now or in the future, asking them outright is not going to return the best results.

If you can’t ask the customer outright though, you still need to gain information and discover more about them, so what are the best ways of going about this?

1. Study Analytics

Every business with a web presence should make regular use of Google Analytics and this is even truer of eCommerce sites. Analytics can tell you all kinds of things, including where your site visitors are arriving from and how they behave once they’ve landed on the site. It also allows you to remarket your products to previous customers and much more.

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You can gain a lot of insight through the use of Analytics. For example, one area in which eCommerce sites are always interested is the rate at which its visitors abandons the shopping cart. Analytics allow you to delve further into where the customer has been on the site to prompt the abandonment.

Perhaps they have left when delivery prices have been shown, for example, or when they realize that they have to pay tax on top. This can help you to tweak your pricing and the steps to checkout to suit the customer. Transparency around pricing especially helps to increase trust which in turn creates loyal customers who will spread the word about your site.

It’s thought that around $4 trillion worth of products will be abandoned this year, but also that around 63% of that is potentially recoverable by streamlining the checkout process and remarketing to visitors that have just left the site using email.

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With that in mind, you could enable a popup when a visitor is about to leave the site asking them to rate the checkout procedure. This doesn’t have to be complex and should be short to enable the customer to leave feedback quickly and easily. It can even be done by asking the customer to rate by clicking on a smiley graphic, as this has been shown to return good results – it’s quick, easy and user-friendly.

You could also use your online chat function to ask customers if they would like any further help before they leave the site. They may just be receptive to a chat and as you’ve caught them at the right time, are more likely to tell you why they’re leaving.

2. Communicate with Your Customers

Many businesses like to think that they’re customer focused but few actually are. If you really want to get into the mind of your customer and find out what they really want then the first step is in listening to them and collecting data. Your customer service will no doubt take the form of phone calls, email, instant chat and possibly, SMS. All of the communications that you receive from customers should be collated and studied in order to gain insight into their needs.

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You may find that the most commonly asked questions on instant chat surround certain products for example, or are around delivery and pricing. You might discover that people use chat to ask certain questions, but only use the phone or email to make a complaint (which will tell you things about behavior).

IM is the perfect tool for discovering more about your customer and their needs as it allows you to have a conversation with the customer in real-time, whilst they’re on the site and looking to make a purchase. If it gets to an email, then the customer is potentially lost and if it gets to a phone call then it’s likely that the customer has become frustrated and may not be quite so receptive.

However, it’s all about the questions that you ask when using IM to get to the answers that are the most valuable. For example, a standard question would of course be “can I help you?” This is structured in the perfect way for a customer to say no, so instead, you need to think about how you can better structure a question so that it’s all but impossible to say no. So rather than ask the above, ask “how can I help you today” or even better “what can I help you with?”

The questions that you ask will depend on your audience too – it’s likely for example that you would address a senior citizen differently than you might a teenager, using language that appeals to them and prompts further conversation and first names. Consider that 56% of those asked in a survey aged 18-34 yearsprefer live chat to phone, compared to just 27% of those aged 35 years and older, according to Software Advice, the online authority on software reviews.

image of a statstic comparing live chat and phone preference by age software advice study

The questions that you ask will depend on the time that you spend chatting to a customer. You should aim to ask if the customer found what they were looking for as this allows them to:

  • Provide feedback about the website experience
  • Provide information on what they expected to find on the site, products wise
  • Give you an opportunity to ask why they did or didn’t make a purchase

Everyone is different, so there’s no hard and fast rule for how long you can expect a customer to chat to your reps for. You should however make sure that all of this information is recorded for future study.

3. Training is Key

Often customers use live chat to find out more about the products that they’re thinking about buying. This means that you should train staff to know about the products that you sell. Of course, if you have 100s of products, then this is unfeasible, but you should at least pick out the most popular and arm your reps with plenty of knowledge.

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You should also provide data sheets where possible; these can be stored in a central repository in order to ensure that the customer service rep can find them quickly and easily. Training is also necessary to teach your reps how to say no without offending, and how to search for similar products that the customer is looking for when online. Information should be easy to find so that the impact of chat isn’t lost whilst the customer waits for the operative to find the right information.

Customer services reps using chat should be trained to:

  • Ask the right questions, based on customer research and previous chat records
  • Always be uber-positive – it’s very easy to be misunderstood using chat and research has found that people are more likely to take an implied negative where none exists
  • Put themselves in the shoes of the customer
  • Avoid sarcasm and humor – the former can be easily misunderstood and with regard to the latter, jokes often get lost in translation during text chats
  • Ensure that replies are succinct and to the point
  • Use excellent grammar and spelling
  • Never use capitals as this is considered to be shouting by many web users
  • Allow the customer to lead as to how you address them – formally, or informally

You should also carry out some research into the questions that your customers ask online, on customer forums and social media. You can do this by setting up social listening toolsto pick up product and brand name mentions.

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4. Planning is Essential

There’s no hard and fast rules surrounding how you should structure your questions to discover more about your customers as it will depend heavily on your audience. However, when conversing with customers via live chat, it’s often the case that questions will arise naturally throughout the conversation. You should, as discussed, keep a record of these so that you’re able to put training in place to address them. You should arm your customer service reps with as much information as possible and you should ensure that they know how to structure questions so that they a) require an answer and b) are well received by the customer.

Getting it right does require some research, planning and training, but this will ensure that you’re making the most out of your communications channels and all being well, are doing it better than the competition.