ADOTAS – Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a landmark theory in psychology. Picture a pyramid, with the most basic and important needs at the base and the pinnacle of human experience at the top.
At ground level, Maslow identified sustenance and safety as the two primary human needs. The third, he said, is a sense of belonging, of connection to others. There, on that third tier of need, sits an important lesson for sales teams.
Customers want to feel a connection to the companies and brands they visit online. E-commerce is convenient. It is fast. It meets many of the basic levels of customer need. Too often, however, it fails to meet that desire for connection. For businesses that use their websites to open authentic dialogues with visitors, sales quickly follow.
A simple feedback mechanism on a website invites visitors to connect with the company. On a product page, in the shopping cart, or elsewhere on the site, a consumer sees an option to start a conversation. One visitor might note that a specific price seems too high. Another might say he can’t find a certain item. Perhaps another writes that she had trouble with the website itself.
All of these feedback items are fuel for sales, support and marketing teams. Their job is to respond quickly and fully to turn a conversation into a conversion.
Studies show that 65% of those who leave feedback on websites also leave contact information, indicating a willingness to extend a relationship with a company. Following up on those self-selecting leads can increase website traffic and average-order-per-visitor, while also strengthening customer loyalty for the brand.
For Web-based feedback channels to fill sales funnels, e-businesses should keep several strategies in mind:
- Make it easy for visitors to talk to you. Offer a feedback option on every important process on your website, and provide categorized quick-pick and sub-menus to simplify the process.
- Don’t try to dominate the conversation. When companies rely on survey-style communications, customer voices get stifled. Let visitors steer the conversation with open-ended forms or easy-to-use ratings systems.
- Use auto-reply e-mails to respond to feedback quickly. These should be specific, pre-defined, relevant messages that immediately speak to the issues raised by visitors. For unusual needs or hot prospects, have sales, support or marketing make the contact individually. Many websites fail to respond to visitor feedback at all; those who do make a strong impact on potential customers.
- Use soft sales to draw in qualified leads. When a user takes the time to give feedback and contact details, don’t threaten that relationship with a hard sell. Thank people for their feedback, mention how valuable it is to the company, and provide a discount on a future purchase as a sign of gratitude. By doing so, you build a relationship that will likely yield a sale and a loyal customer.
- Continue the relationship. Use your feedback mechanism to offer a newsletter opt-in so you can keep in touch with customers who have indicated an affinity for your brand by taking the time to talk with you.
It’s highly unlikely that psychologist Maslow, working in the 1940s, could have envisioned the ways in which humans would try to connect via virtual methods. Perhaps he would have questioned the validity of such relationships.
However, for businesses that take full advantage of their websites to bond with customers, meeting a core human need inevitably leads to greater success in terms of customer loyalty and sales revenue.