Guide to Customer Management
Benefits of Customer Management
If nurtured, your customer base can be the lifeblood of your business. According to Brad Sugars, a contributor to Entrepreneur, “The reality of business is that it costs anywhere from six to eight times as much to generate a new customer as it does to sell to an existing customer.” By having a solid customer management strategy and system that nurtures your customers appropriately, you can:
- Improve your customer experience: By encouraging your customers to create an account, you can make shopping with you a snap and provide a more personal shopping experience overall. (See Customer Account Functionality below)
- Optimize your marketing efforts: By organizing your customers into groups, you can tailor your marketing efforts. For instance, you could provide wholesale customers with discounts on specific products, categories or your entire store or even kick up some reward programs for your frequent or high average order volume customers.
- Build relationships: Customers who are happy with your business will want to come back again and again. These customers are likely to also turn into your advocates, referring highly-qualified business to your store and can serve as a great sounding board when you need feedback about your business or product catalog.
- Increase revenue: By managing your customers, you can ensure your resources are prioritized and nurture highly active accounts. There is a clear correlation then between happy customers, increased sales and a thriving business. If you are able to keep your current customers coming back for more, plus use these customers to help you improve on your operations and marketing strategies, you'll be in a good place to keep your business afloat.
Customer Account Functionality/Features
Enabling customer account creation on your storefront gives your shoppers access to features designed to improve their shopping experience. Once created, a customer’s account allows for them to:
- send order messages through your storefront
- view their order history
- purchase an item again
- initiate a return request
- maintain their address book
- create, edit and share wishlists
- review recently viewed products
- check their store credit
However, some online shoppers are opposed to the idea of having a permanent account for ecommerce stores. A general rule of thumb is to not force your shoppers to sign-up for an account during the checkout process. Besides, adding steps to the checkout process the more likely you will impact your conversion rate negatively. This is why, by default, BigCommerce stores have the guest checkout option available.
Some business models may require account creation, like members-only stores, or stores that require a level of customer authentication before allowing purchasing (e.g. wholesalers, non-profit organizations). In this case, requiring a shopper to create an account is expected and will likely not impact your conversion rate during the checkout process.
Customers themselves are able to access their order history from the My Account section of your storefront. There they review their past completed orders, view their details, print old invoices, initiate returns, and even reorder old orders. Not only is this helpful for customers to quickly re-purchase an item, this can be very helpful and time-saving for fulfillment or customer service operations. By performing a search for a customer’s name, you’ll be able to see at a glance their current order’s status, and also their past completed orders.
From the View Customers screen, customers can be sorted by the number of orders they’ve placed. This data can prove useful by seeing what your most active customers are interested in, and what products they are buying the most.
The wishlists feature allows shoppers who’ve created an account to save your store’s products to a list that they can revisit later or share with friends and family. This lets your customers highlight products for future purchase, and provides a simple gift registry functionality for your storefront.
As the store owner, you can also view your customers’ wishlists to get an idea of what products they are most interested in.
The less time it takes a shopper to check out from your store, the more likely it is they are to convert their cart into a sale. One of the best time-saving features of enabling account creation is that your shoppers are able save their shipping address in their account’s Address Book, so they don’t have to go through the process of entering all that information again, should they shop at your store again. Couple this with the fact that returning customers are far more likely to convert than new customers, and you can start to see why being able to store addresses in a customer account is crucial.
Shoppers are able to save multiple addresses to their address book. This can be helpful for customers who regularly have shipments delivered to both home and work, and for customers who want their order delivered as a gift to a friend or relative’s address.
Products in your store that a shopper has recently looked at is another handy time-saving feature for shoppers who choose to create an account. It gives them a quick way to find items they’ve viewed while visiting your store, and they don’t have to remember what specific category the products were in, or how to navigate to them.
If a customer account has any store credit applied to it, they can log in to see what their balance is. When a partial amount of store credit is used to check out with an order, the remaining balance is updated in the customer’s account dashboard. Learn more about issuing store credit in the next chapter.