In today's market, putting a customer in the position where he or she may have to make a phone call in order to do something can mean losing out on business. From restaurant reservations to pizza delivery to booking appointments, young and tech savvy consumers have the expectation that they will be able to complete a wide range of services online or through apps, and are likely to look elsewhere for that convenience when it is not offered.
At the same time, offering your customer the ability to input information in a convenient online format can save your business both time and money. Take the example of the pizza delivery: an online order form will quickly and accurately capture everything from the customer address to whether or not they'd prefer pepperoni or green peppers, eliminating both time spent on the phone and potential for errors.
Not sure if this applies to your business? Here are five ways our clients use their websites to streamline their businesses and improve their customer experiences:
1. FORMS & PAPERWORK
Any business that relies on liability waivers, consent forms, or informational forms as part of business practice can save time and money by moving these online. Encourage customers to fill these out in advance with the incentive of faster service, and it'll save you the hassle of documentation, eliminate data entry and errors from paper forms, and prevent lines and waits from building up.
- If you use Liability Waivers, you can set up a process for customers to complete these in advance online, and offer expedited check-in for those who do so. This saves you data entry headaches, and saves the customer a considerable amount of time. We especially recommend this for businesses that cater to children and families, as often a family will have to fill out four or more liability waivers at one time, leaving them feeling impatient and irritable!
- If customers have to fill out a lot of informational paperwork before their appointment, for example in an aesthetician or medical office, moving these online can help your staff stay on schedule, improve information accuracy, and reduce customer wait time.
For reservation-based businesses such as restaurants, hotels, tours, and camps, creating an easy online portal where customers can request a reservation is a major selling point. People like to plan ahead and avoid waits where possible, and getting advanced reservations secured helps everyone involved.
3. RENTAL SERVICES
Save your customers the hassle of checking in person or on the phone to make sure there's a rental available for them by providing this service online. This has the added benefit of helping you plan in advance for business rushes, and collect customer information digitally that is necessary for the reservation. You can even create an expedited process for customers who pay in full online!
For rental products such as event fixtures, bikes, outdoor gear, and boats, customers can provide all of the information you need to get the reservation process started before they even arrive at your shop, allowing them to beat the rush and stop by and pick up their gear ready to go. Your business benefits as well, since staff will be able to use slower times to better prepare for the customers who will arrive during your typical rush times.
4. APPOINTMENT SCHEDULER
With digital calendar technology, businesses that rely on appointments can easily and effectively give clients a portal to schedule their appointments online. This saves the hassle of going back and forth via email or phone to find a suitable time slot, as the customer is able to directly request their time slot via a web application, and it simply needs to be approved by your appointment booking staff. Appointment schedulers can set up automatic notifications to the client, and allow your staff to edit their availability as needed.
5. ONLINE ORDERING & ORDER PICKUP
Whether it's full eCommerce or simply pinging your barista your coffee order before you swing by, offering online ordering for customers to pick up can take some pressure off staff during busy rush times by collecting payment in advance. A secondary benefit to offering this on your website is that online orders can collect customer contact information in a way that simply isn't effective in store!
6. EMAIL NEWSLETTER & CUSTOMER REWARDS PROGRAMS
We recommend that most clients collect email addresses for use in newsletters, promotions, and other marketing campaigns. Implementing a newsletter sign up form on a website is simple to do and can be extremely effective, especially when paired with a promotion or coupon. When paired with ecommerce, you can also use your email list to track and award customer rewards, such as frequent buyer points or birthday coupons.
7. EVENT REGISTRATION
Whether you offer events weekly or only once a year, offering registration and ticket sales through your website can be an incredible asset. Moving beyond websites that host your ticket sales and into sales that are hosted directly on your site can eliminate fees and improve your bottom line.
8. CUSTOMER COMMUNICATIONS PORTAL
Streamline customer communications by offering them through your website. You can provide options for product returns, leaving reviews of your business, giving feedback, or asking questions. Save staff time by adding the answers to some Frequently Asked Questions in this section of your website!