The about us page is usually one of the most visited website pages. It is where a customer heads to when they want to know more about you as a company, what you stand for and how you can help them. However, this page can often be overlooked or undervalued by e-commerce sites.

So how do you make the most of your about us page and better engage your website visitors?

1. Include a clear sense of mission and values

More and more consumers want to buy from sites with whom they have a shared sense of mission and values. This page is a place to clearly state your purpose and company/brand values. If you look at the ‘about Waitrose‘ page, you will read about how they source their produce, their work with charities and what they are giving back. It includes information such as:

“We want to know where our food comes from, how it’s been produced and what it contains. It all starts with long-term relationships with our farmers and suppliers, and continues with our beliefs in championing British produce, supporting responsible sourcing, treating people fairly and treading lightly on the environment. This is the Waitrose Way. But it doesn’t stop there. With your help in branch and online, our Community Matters scheme has donated £14 million to local charities chosen by you.” Waitrose

When you tell customers what you stand for, you are connecting and engaging with them on a different level. Whilst this won’t motivate every consumer, it will definitely resonate with some. It helps to build up a picture of the kind of company you are.

2. Tell your story

The about us page is the perfect place to tell your company’s story. If you are a family run business people want to know! Customers always want to know about the people involved. If it works, tell your story via a video. This is the way websites are going. People no longer expect to read reams of text. A short video, of a couple of minutes, is often much more effective. Everyone loves a good story and it will help your business come alive.

Ben and Jerry’s have a fantastic about us page. They tell their story really well. It starts with a fun video entitled ‘explore some of the great moments in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream history’. This is followed by their story broken down in to decades. Its not one monotonous page of text and data. It is interesting, well presented and gives browsers the option to dip in and out of their story using the different decade tabs. Definitely one worth a look!

3. Your team – who you are

Website visitors love to see the people with whom they are interacting. They enjoy seeing people: from the owner of the company to the person that handles customer service. Make sure you have good photographs or images, displayed in a way that is in keeping with your company style and brand. Children’s furniture company, Great Little Trading Company, have a page dedicated to what they call their ‘testing team‘. This page describe how all their product are tested by the very people who will use them: children. Photographs of the children testing the products and their names are also included. This page enhances their brand: a fun, creative company, with their customers, children, at its heart.

Employee testimonials also work really well. They can showcase your culture and give customers a glimpse of the staff having fun behind the scenes. Rent the Runway do this really well. If you scroll down to the ‘us’ section of this page, notice how their staff testimonials say something about what they do and how they work.

4. Customer testimonials

Testimonials should be all over your website. On the about us page you have the opportunity to take one or two testimonials and paint a fuller story of how a customer’s life was changed or impacted because of your products.

Find one or two testimonials that have really engaging stories. They should resemble the key customer personas’ stories. For example, if you sell jewellery and engagement rings, customers may want to see a story about a woman who got her rings from you and images or even a short clip from her wonderful wedding.

5. Links to products and a call to action

Recognising that many people visit the about us page, make it easy for them to get to the products that interest them. One way to do this might be to personalise the page with previously viewed products or items that match their persona profile.

Make sure you include a clear call to action and an on ramp, (on ramp is explained in previous blogs which can be found here) enabling visitors to easily purchase products and engage with you.

  • Add a call to action with appropriate products.
  • Add on ramps with a newsletter sign-up and clear content offerings.
  • Link to blog posts that specifically highlight customer stories or what the company has done to extend its mission (for example, charity work).

What have you done with your about us page? How have you made it stand out? Have you found it engages new visitors and potential customers? If you have any other ideas that you can share, we’d love to hear from you.


How to do customer service when the customer is wrong

Customers will complain, it’s a part of business. Although it can be a tricky issue to deal with, it’s an excellent opportunity to demonstrate great customer service. This is where your company core values are useful: they will determine how you respond.

First of all, is your customer really wrong? Before getting into how to explain to a customer that they’re wrong, ask yourself, “Is the customer wrong to begin with?” To be able to answer this question effectively, you need to train yourself to be completely objective when dealing with customer feedback.

Here are some steps that I apply to my businesses and recommend to my e-commerce consulting clients:

1. Never dismiss a complaint immediately

As tempting as it can be to simply dismiss the customer’s complaint as soon as they raise it, this will only ensure that the customer becomes more irate. Complaints come about when customers are unhappy with a certain product or service.

"If they’ve taken the time to contact you to raise their concerns, the issue is likely have caused them to feel angry, upset or annoyed – the last thing they want, is to feel they aren’t being listened to." Matt Edmundson

2. Treat all complaints equally

You should always treat all complaints in exactly the same way – listen to the customer, record their complaint in full and go through exactly the same process you would with any other complaint. If you’re able to provide a response outright (by following steps three and four), that’s fantastic. However, if you are unsure, further investigation is always the way forward, no matter how ludicrous you believe the complaint to be.

3. Give an explanation

The importance of customer communication continues to grow. The further development of internet technologies means people want to feel the companies they’re spending their money with are both listening to and understand their views.When it comes to responding to customer complaints and providing suitable explanations, quality always prevails over quantity. You may be able to work through more customer complaints if you respond with a short, stock reply, but you’re likely to see more repeat custom, and less negative impact on brand reputation, if you take the time to provide full, personal, tailored, in-depth explanations.

4. Offer an alternative

Just because a customer’s complaint is incorrect and can’t be justified, it doesn’t mean they should be treated any differently from a customer with a genuine complaint. If you can, offer the customer an alternative or provide them with a solution to the problem they believe they have. Again, it may mean a matter of quality over quantity, but the benefits could be considerable.

5. Analyse the source of the complaint

You should not only record and respond to all complaints, but report on them regularly. If you’re receiving regular complaints from customers where the customer is wrong, it would beneficial to understand what is causing confusion and if anything can be implemented to reduce this.

6. It’s okay to ‘sack’ the customer, providing it is handled tactfully

Do you have a clearly defined approach to customer feedback in your business? Sometimes complaints can be very beneficial to a business in terms of ironing out processes and making products or services more user friendly.


Is Live Chat worth it?

We live in a 30 second world. As a business, it’s important to be available.
In 2013, 6000 consumers across the UK, US, Australia, Germany, France and Italy were interviewed* about online customer support and live chat, some key findings concluded:

  • 83% admitted they need some form of support during their online journey
  • 51% either try once or give up immediately when seeking help before an online purchase
  • 71% expect to be able to access help when purchasing online within five minutes – 31% expect help to be immediate
  • If a response is not delivered in the expected timeframe, 48% of shoppers will either go elsewhere or abandon the purchase altogether.

Technology will never be the answer to improved customer experiences; it’s implementation always needs to be carefully considered. ‘Live Chat’ is no exception. I read two good examples online recently. Both case studies come from the telecoms industry and both are from disgruntled customers based in Australia. However, you can imagine a very similar scenario here in the UK or elsewhere.

Case Study 1

Telstra’s live support: A lengthy problem had led me to the Foxtel service page on the Telstra website, and once there I was presented with an offer to chat. I duly typed ‘Foxtel outage’ into the box and had an exchange which, technically speaking, worked well – fast responses, friendly, and correct phrasing. But after 60 seconds, or 4-5 messages, I was told I would need to be transferred to a Foxtel specialist (even though I’d started from a Foxtel service page and already given my reason to chat). My second chat was also friendly, despite having to repeat myself a little, but ultimately came to an unhelpful ‘we don’t know when this will be fixed’ conclusion. Essentially, an unresolved query, and several minutes wasted of both my and two Telstra staff’s time.
The lack of intelligence in the routing of my query, the lack of care on the agent’s part to read my previous exchange carefully, and both agents lacking the tools or technology necessary to resolve my query, ultimately resulted in a superficial service. The chat itself was fine, but the supporting methods and tools were not. It’s clear that the issues I saw were systemic and would be experienced by many customers.

Case Study 2

Optus – whilst looking for a new phone, I noticed after a few minutes that a small ‘Chat now’ box had appeared in the navigation bar where there wasn’t one before. It wasn’t that obvious or inviting, so I decided to continue browsing. Later, however, after adding an item to my cart and pausing for a while, a more obvious, targeted offer to chat popped up in a highlighted box on the screen. I clicked and had a short conversation with the agent to answer my questions. What’s happening here is that the website detects customers who are not exhibiting the ‘right’ buyer behaviour and presents them with a real-time offer to chat.

The Optus approach seems to be the technology enabled equivalent of a shop assistant or alert concierge, who sees that you look confused or unsure, and comes over to ask if you need any help. Personal, timely and relevant.

Live chat can be very effective, but you have to design the right experience from the outside-in, and change your internal support processes too, not just implement a glossy new customer channel on top of a poor process and poor back-end system that still won’t result in a good customer experience.


Hiring for customer service

When you hire, train and motivate employees based on core values, everything else falls into place. Finding competent people with the right skills isn’t enough. They need the right attitude, too.

Here are three good questions to ask when you interview candidates for a customer service role:

1. Why are you in customer service?

Always ask this one first. Customer service is not just resolving one issue after another. It’s about satisfying customers’ needs, putting smiles on their faces and inspiring them to do the same for others. Employees who excel have a natural desire to help and express genuine empathy. Bonus points for a sunny disposition and willingness to go the extra mile.

2. Are you familiar with what we do?

Ideal candidates walk into interviews with a basic understanding of your business. Ask them to list what they believe to be the value of your product or service. Fill in any blanks and discuss how you make a difference in customers’ personal or professional lives.

3. How would you handle…?

Personality is part of the hiring game. To see if a candidate has what it takes, create a customer support scenario. Don’t be afraid to throw a few curveballs. Is he or she empathetic? Asking appropriate questions? Being proactive? Did you feel the issue was resolved? Provide feedback and give candidates the chance to talk about what they do differently.

Attitude is the the foundation of good culture and outstanding customer service,
the driving force behind:

•       What your employees say and how they say it
•       The service goals your employees set for themselves
•       How much your employees are willing to do for your customers
•       Overall job satisfaction

All skills being equal, employees with the right attitude have an easier time fitting in, better job performance and they stick around longer.

"To identify strong candidates and weed out those looking to collect a pay check, ask questions that align with your core values." Matt Edmundson

A good example that illustrates this is in a company called At, all employees-including managers and senior staff go through a week-long boot camp learning how to use the product and practice ‘Customer WOW’. Everyone becomes part of the culture, understanding what they do and how to commit to the core values.

No matter what sector you work in, customer service needs to be integral to your business model if you want to succeed and grow. This is more relevant than ever in this online age, where anyone with internet access is an overnight expert!


The customer service team. Your first point of contact

Customer service staff are usually the first point of contact for a customer when interacting with your company. If the customer is annoyed how will your staff handle it? Rather than reacting badly and potentially escalating the situation, how can you equip your team? Now, I am firmly against the idea of a ‘script’. However, I do think a guiding framework can be very helpful. In this post, I hope to give you a few pointers on how to write the best customer service training manual. Here are my six top tips:

  1. Establish clear policies
  2. Have a FAQ’s
  3. Include role play
  4. Cover the basics
  5. Printed copies
  6. Feedback

This framework should give you a starting point. It is likely to need regular updates and should definitely have input from those doing the job day to day.

  1. `Establish clear policies on how customers are to be greeted, acceptable wait times and the chain of command regarding decision making. Make it clear what allowances customer service representatives can make independently.

  2. Have a 'frequently asked questions' section of the manual including examples of how they have been handled appropriately.

  3. Include role play. Ensure your trainees have played the part of customer and customer service representative in training sessions. Have ‘good’ and ‘bad’ examples.

  4. Make sure all the relevant ‘basics’ about your business are included in the manual and that all customer service representatives know and understand this info. Also include a list of useful contacts within the organisation or elsewhere if necessary as a good reference guide.

  5. Have some printed copies of the manual with an easy ‘quick tips’ section. Remember that it will need to be updated regularly.

  6. Get feedback from your team on how the manual works, is there anything that should be included which currently isn’t addressed.

Zappos want to be known for customer service first and foremost and the products they sell second, which is why all new hires in Las Vegas go through four weeks of initial training. This is for everyone, no matter what job they will actually do after the four weeks. They do this because they want everyone to have the experience of talking with customers. Contact centre employees receive an additional three weeks of training, so for them it’s a total of seven weeks before it’s full speed ahead in the call centre.
Zappos also uses its customer calls in its advertising. For the “Happy People Making People Happy” campaign in 2010, they used customer calls as a way to demonstrate their values, the three C’s: clothing, customer service, and culture (they’ve since added a 4th C for community). During the process with the ad agency they sat in on actual customer calls. They were inspired by the power of the Customer Loyalty Team and simply found a way to take one of the best assets and best branding devices and make it fun and interesting.

In my next blog post I will look at how you can hire the right people to improve your company’s customer service.