Digitisation has led to a consumer revolution in the UK, with 78% of adults having made a purchase online in the last 12-months.
But while product providers have been snapping up the opportunities that ecommerce has to offer, service-based businesses are struggling to convert online visitors into sales with the same success.
Tour operators, hotel spas, concierge service providers – you name it – continue to manage with not much more than a contact form, an email address or simply a phone number to encourage web visitors to book.
A recent report by Salesforce, The State of the Connected Customer, highlighted that 76% of customers believe it’s easier than ever to shop around.
They will jump between brands to find the one delivering the best experience.
With the power lying firmly in the hands of the discerning consumer, service businesses need to make it as easy as possible for customers to browse, book and buy their service directly, or risk losing them to a competitor.
Here are four tips for any service businesses wanting to maximise online selling potential.
1. Convenience is key
When customers are showing an interest in buying, it’s never a good idea to put obstacles in their way.
Rather than asking them to pick up the phone or write an email (which creates extra work for everyone), facilitate online payment.
You may also want to make sure everything a customer needs is available in one place.
Research by Empathy Broker found that 63% of consumers are less likely to make a purchase if a website isn’t easy to navigate.
Your prospects will likely be used to speed, ease and intuitiveness on the internet and you’ll want your web pages to clearly communicate your business offering.
2. Spark up conversation
You might want to consider adding a chat function to your website so you can handle customer queries quickly before they lose interest and go elsewhere.
This will enable you to have real-time conversations with customers while they are actively engaged.
Having a chat function could also help you cut down on administrative tasks later while giving customers the option to have an immediate interaction with you, without taking any time out of their day to manage the back and forth of email.
3. Pre-emptive pricing
Too many companies still don’t prioritise changing the pricing on their website. This is simply because they believe it’s time consuming.
Where this may once have been true, the technology now exists to make the whole process much less painful.
Consumers are, typically, price sensitive and discount driven. So regularly reviewing your pricing, updating discounts and announcing special offers is something you should be doing.
This will not only help to improve your customer offering and attract more people to your site, but it will also put you in a stronger position to respond to market and competitor changes.
4. Set yourself up for repeat business
Whether you are providing yoga sessions or photography lessons, it’s always preferable to sell a season or package of classes rather than one at a time. If you are offering your service on a recurring basis, giving customers the chance to sign up on a subscription basis can benefit both parties.
It means customers do not need to remember to make repeat purchases every week or month and you won’t need to spend time soliciting orders. Providing a subscription option is a simple way to simplify business processes and can also help to make your business more “sticky”.
In a world where the vast majority of people carry out transactions online, service businesses must step it up or risk losing out on online sales.
Failing to do this could cost you dearly when it comes to the user experience and, as a result, potential sales.
Adopting the practices mentioned above will help you lay the foundations for a more agile and responsive business.
To download Blackbell’s eBook: Turning visitors into customers – a guide to streamlining and selling more click here: https://www.blackbell.com/e-book.
David-Benjamin Brakha is CEO of Blackbell.
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