In the world of eCommerce every interaction matters. Just one minute of downtime can cost a retailer thousands of pounds in lost revenue, as well as significant damage to its brand reputation and the business.
In light of this, IT is the backbone of today’s retail industry. The core to any company in the IT service business must be establishing and developing strong relationships with clients, and in turn consumers. Understanding customers’ objectives and long-term online business goals, whilst assisting them in providing a seamless customer experience across various devices, is the difference between creating blossoming client partnerships and becoming a faceless IT organisation.
Simply talking to clients and understanding their challenges – be it scale testing, seasonal demand peaks or rolling out infrastructure changes – can make you a priceless organisational asset.
I once received a tense call from an eCommerce director of a well-known high street retailer, after they had aired an important TV ad. The director explained that their website could not cope with the influx in traffic being driven online as a result of the broadcast. Despite it being 8pm on a Friday night, I made the call to one of the technical team, and by the time the ad aired the next morning, we had made the necessary amendments to ensure the site didn’t crash this time.
Due to a difficult internal sign off process, they hadn’t appreciated the importance of site scalability, which had been overlooked. And so once we made the necessary changes (which we had recommended in the first place), the following day the website was performing at optimal speed and resulted in said eCommerce director calling me again on Monday to say I had saved his job.
The eCommerce business operates 24/7, as should all IT operations. Making yourself available to a client, offering informed recommendations based on their business data will help position you as an integral piece of their planning and logistical process. Ideally this should happen before a problem occurs, but demonstrating speed and agility in such cases will showcase the value of a strong organisational structure and business proposition.
Having a strong team that understands the importance of online performance and brand success will also go a long way when nurturing client relationships. A recent incident with online fashion retailer Missguided, whose global sales are soon expected to surpass £50 million, is a great example of the importance of maintaining strong organisational structure and support.
On the first day of its website going live it was found the retailer was giving a substantial amount of credits back to consumers who made a purchase; a result of a back end order issue meaning orders weren’t being fulfilled. Immediately the question was raised as to whether this was an infrastructure problem and, if not, what necessary steps were required to resolve the issue. Our team manned (and slept in) the Missguided office for 72 hours, identifying the problem, coordinating communication between client, software developers and the platform, until the issue was resolved. This dedication showcased the value and necessity of having a strong support network that ultimately helped save the bacon of a global fashion brand.
Every organisation is different but the competition for talent is tough and, being in the relationship business, every opportunity counts. This is why it is key to have support from employees who are passionate, creative and collaborative, and who will ultimately deliver the best possible business solutions. Therefore, it is essential to promote your organisation’s unique values and culture whilst demonstrating a significant investment to the workforce to attract top talent.
Consumer expectations have dramatically changed and they now expect streamlined purchasing processes that allow them to access information and make a purchase in just a few minutes – at home, on the go or at work. Poor-performing, slow-loading websites and inadequate navigation tools will destroy the consumer experience, and ultimately the reputation of the retailer’s business.
Whether it be easing the challenges faced online, improving scalability or developing client relationships, going the extra mile will go a long way in securing and sustaining clients. This due diligence will help set you apart from the crowd, no matter what industry you operate in.
Dominic Monkhouse – is the managing director of PEER 1 Hosting’s EMEA operations and SVP Customer Experience, responsible for sales, marketing and service delivery across the EMEA business and ensuring excellent customer satisfaction.