7 questions your customers ask, and how your website must answer
All customers have questions about your company and its offerings -- whether they know it or not. Columnist Stoney deGeyter shows how you can answer those questions to build trust and boost conversions.
Every visitor to your website has questions — lots of them. These questions must be answered before any visitor can become a customer.
Whether or not the visitor is able to articulate these questions in his or her mind is irrelevant. The questions may be conscious or simply reside somewhere in their subconscious mind. But until answered, they remain there, nagging like a toddler struggling to get his mother’s attention.
If your website doesn’t address or adequately answer those questions, the visitor will hold onto a feeling that something is not quite right. They may not know what it is, but it will be enough to prevent them from taking the final step to becoming a customer.
It’s important that you get ahead of these questions, anticipating what your customers want to know. I’m here to help! Below I have outlined seven typical questions that customers need to have answered. And I have provided a way for you to answer those questions, with very little direct contact with the prospect being necessary.
Q: Why do you deserve my business?
A: This is probably the biggest hurdle to overcome before someone pulls the trigger in buying your product or service. It may not be the first question in their mind, but assuming all other questions get answered, if this one isn’t answered, the rest won’t matter. There are four ways to answer this question:
- UVP (Unique Value Proposition): Outline what it is that makes you unique from anyone else selling the same products or services. This should already be baked into your business model, so just make sure you articulate it on your website.
- Longevity: How long you’ve been in business is just one of many factors that can tip the scales in your favor. It won’t have much weight, but sometimes it can be enough. If you don’t have longevity, then you have to make up for this in other areas.
- Customer service: It’s not enough to just say you have good customer service. You have to show it. That’s not so easy without face-to-face interaction, but often even the smallest things can help. Customers need to see that they are your primary focus. You’ll see a lot of customer service-oriented solutions in this list, so pay attention!
- Success stories: Don’t be afraid to tout your record of success, whether it’s posting testimonials or providing case studies. This is great fodder for backing up your claims.
Q: What makes your product or service different?
A: This is similar to the question above, but it’s directed toward the products or services you offer, rather than your company. Here are three ways to address this question:
- Approach: Every product comes with some sort of descriptive text that provides the shopper with much-needed information. Make sure to write your content from the customer’s vantage point. Don’t just provide product specifications, but truly address the value the product will bring to them.
- Quality: If your product or service has exceptional quality, make sure you address why that is.
- Difference: You should also point out what makes what your offer different from the next guy. This is similar to the UVP, and many elements may be the same, but this is really where you get to outline the difference in your products, not just your company as a whole.
Q: Can you help me figure out what I need?
A: Many shoppers have trouble determining what solution is best for their particular problem or need. You’d be surprised at how many websites don’t make it easy for these shoppers to find answers. Here are three solutions you can utilize:
- Content: The first line of defense in helping customers get critical information is your content. This is where you need to be robust in outlining as much information as you can to ensure each customer fully understands what the product is or does.
- Contact: Make sure you are easy to contact. As companies get bigger, they make it more difficult to contact them. That’s one way to save money, but it’s also a way to keep new customers away. The easier you are to contact, the more opportunities shoppers have to get questions answered so they can move on with their purchase.
- Customer service: Again, we go back to customer service. If someone does contact you, via phone, form or email, you absolutely need to address their concerns quickly and thoroughly. Lately, I’ve had a string of customer service calls in which the service reps were heavily sympathetic to my problem but almost completely inept at understanding what the problem was. Don’t be like them to your customers. Seek to understand and stay with it until a solution is provided.
Q: How can I justify this purchase?
A: Every purchase has to be justified on an emotional level. You can have all the facts and figures you want, but you need to make the shopper to feel good about the decision to go forward, not just before they pull the trigger, but after as well. Here are three ways to help your customers feel justified in making a purchase.
- Price: Price matters, but only to those who shop on price alone and not on quality. Unless you want to compete on price — in which case the cheapest price always wins — you need to communicate why your product or service is worth the price you’re asking.
- Value: One of the best ways to justify a higher price is to convey the value that your solution brings. If you can provide sufficient value, the price becomes irrelevant.
- Solutions: Address the solutions that your product or service resolves. More than talking about what the product actually does (which is important), address what that means to the shopper. For example, a toilet bowl cleaner doesn’t just remove rings from the toilet; it gives the user a spotless bathroom that not just looks but feels clean, too.
Q: Where do I go from here?
A: So the shopper is ready to proceed. Now what? If the answer to this question isn’t obvious, you’re missing the boat entirely. Here are two things you must do to keep the customer moving through the conversion journey:
- Contextual links: Every visitor is on a different journey. You are dealing with a varying set of personas and personalities, each of which needs something different from the other — which means a singular path from landing page to conversion just won’t do. You need to provide alternate paths for visitors who need more content or more reassurances before they make a purchase. Use in-content links to give these visitors the options to go down these paths.
- Calls to action (CTAs): In the end, every visitor must be told what to do next. Yes, give them the alternate options noted above, but by all means have a primary path that will take them to that conversion point. Don’t assume your customers will intuitively know. Make it clear, make it obvious, and make it awesome.
Q: What do I do if I have a problem with my purchase?
Everyone has had their share of problems with a product or service they purchased. How you handle these problems can determine whether or not you have a repeat customer or a potential social media nightmare on your hands. There are four ways to answer this question:
- Easy contact: Sometimes you need more than just an obvious way to contact you; you need to make it easy as well. And what is easy for one isn’t necessarily easy for another — which means you need to have multiple contact options. Those who are scared of committing to a purchase can rest easy seeing that you make helping them a priority.
- Quick response guarantee: If a customer fills out a form or emails you, make it clear when they can expect to receive a reply. If they have no idea that you’ll be in touch within hours or days, they may just continue shopping somewhere else. Let them know that their request will be answered fast.
- Product quality guarantees: You also want to outline any guarantees you have on the quality of your products. What kind of warranty you offer, what they can expect regarding quality and exactly what they should do if something doesn’t measure up to their expectations.
- Return policies: Let customers know what happens when a product needs to be returned, regardless of whether it’s a quality issue or just a mistake on the customer’s part. Outline your return policies to prove that you have hassle-free return options.
Q: Can I trust you?
Ultimately, every question above boils down to this very one. Can the customer trust you? Implementing the solutions above will take you in the right direction, but there are a few other things that will help answer this question as well:
- Organization memberships: Add organization memberships to your site if they lend weight to your company’s ability to be trusted. Something as simple as a Better Business Bureau logo and rating can help. But don’t neglect any other organizations that tout your skill and quality.
- Industry recognition: Along the same lines, if you have received any special recognition in your industry, don’t be afraid to tout it. Post any honors or rewards for all to see.
- Policies: Provide a link to your policies in key places of your site that will give visitors assurances that you’re not going to abuse the information they provide. You also want to outline key points on how your company operates.
- Authority content: Publishing content that demonstrates your knowledge and skills is critical to the trust question. If the shopper is deciding between you and a competitor, the one that has done more to demonstrate that authority wins.
- About us: Let visitors see the faces behind the company. Create a robust and informative about us page (or pages) that provides profiles of key people and outlines your mission and vision. Use these pages to tell your story and relate to your customers in a human way.
Earning and retaining customers is all about providing them the information they don’t even know they need — which means you have to answer questions that really haven’t been asked yet. The good news is, you now know what those unasked questions are.
Any business that doesn’t answer these questions on their website stands at a disadvantage. You may be driving traffic to the site, but your conversion rates can be improved. Implementing these answers will greatly enhance the visitor’s on-site experience, turning more shoppers into tried-and-true customers.