Added by on 2012-09-24

Encouraging already established clients to use the online arm of your business can be tricky. It is important not to alienate them by forcing them to use the Internet to access your business information or buy products, especially if they are not computer-savvy.

Depending on the nature or your business, you should consider taking your more loyal customers or “big spenders” on a virtual tour of your online service so they know what to expect when accessing your store.

These customers will appreciate the time and effort you have shown in helping them access your Web site. You can also encourage your “big spenders” or top customers by giving them a discount if they shop online.

It should be made known to most of your offline customers that you are going online. This can be done a number of ways:

Just before you launch your site have, for example, a “Cyberspace Sale” at your offline store to promote the new Internet site

Make sure your stationery carries your Web site address

Have your Web site address placed in prominent areas of your offline business

Encourage your staff to tell customers about the Web site

Depending on the nature of your business, and how many loyal customers you have, you may want to have a special “coffee and cake” or “barbecue” evening to take your offline customers through your site

Offline customers could be given incentives to use your online arm. You can place discount vouchers on your online store and they can be redeemed for discounts at your offline premises. This will encourage people to use your site.
Remember you still want your offline business to remain viable, so don’t force customers to use the Internet. Even if some of your current offline customers don’t want to shop online, they will always act as a good publicity tool to friends, family and other businesses.

Live customer communications

It is well-known that service sells. Many businesses have achieved great success on that premise. So if your business allows, it is prudent to consider “live” customer service.

This can be done through specific technology which facilitates instant and live communication for businesses online. There is software available to help with this, including software which offers an instant messaging chat service for customers to “talk” to your sales people.

Another major development with Internet technology is the advances in telephony. Recent developments now give online businesses the capability of live voice interaction with customers. This can be an extremely powerful and persuasive tool for securing sales. It can also be very expensive.

A live voice capability on your Web site will also help to “humanise” your customer’s online buying experience.

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