If you’re in the business of selling products or services online, I’m of the opinion that you really only have two jobs to do, both equally important. One job is to provide your customers with quality information, so when they’re searching and find you they stick around because you have what they want. The other is to provide them with a quality experience while they’re on your site, so they feel comfortable buying from you. A customer that does not trust you will not make a purchase. Customer anxiety is a common cause of shopping cart abandonment, and there are some key elements that your site can and should provide to help people feel comfortable with your site’s security and make the sale. Let’s look at a few customer anxiety issues and along with solutions.
Present a professional appearance – This is probably the hardest to define but perhaps the most important. Often a site just “doesn’t look right,” possibly due to a clashing color scheme, too many flashing and whirling animations, misspellings and poor grammar, or just a tone that is “too commercial.” Use clear language and a familiar navigation. You only have a few seconds in which to impress upon a potential customer that you are trustworthy, and if your site doesn’t meet expectations it’s only too easy to click away and go to the next one.
Display your guarantee – Guarantees give customers peace of mind. There’s no doubt in your mind that you are a legitimate business that sells quality products you stand behind, right? Give your customers that same confidence with a guarantee. Place the guarantee on your home page for all to see, as well as include it on the order now, view cart and check out pages.
It makes sense to display guarantees and credibility indicators near the actions that they are most closely related to. Credibility indicators are affiliations with or endorsements by trusted companies or trade association such as Better Business Bureau Online, TRUSTe, and Hacker Safe. These should be displayed on your check out pages as well as home page.
Testimonials – Include positive customer testimonials throughout your site. If the testimonial is from a customer with a website, link to them so people can click through. I have been amazed in the past to look at sites offering search engine optimization and marketing services, promising incredible results and providing testimonials that don’t link to the customer’s sites! That makes their claims really hard to believe. If you have a testimonial that mentions the ease of ordering, responsive customer service, or the ease with which a return or exchange was made, consider adding that to the order page for some extra reassurance. [MightyMerchant’s article Gathering and Using Testimonials has more info about this topic.]
Contact info– Prominently link to your contact information, official company address, and customer support phone number and other support information. Include your support telephone number on the check-out page. I’m a big fan of About Us pages to give a sense of the people behind the products, and I think they engender trust.
“What will happen next” statements – Let people know what to expect before they complete an action. Let them know if they will they receive an email or phone call, what the expected delivery date is, and any other pertinent information.
Prominently display shipping prices and policies. It stretches the limits of acceptability when these appear to be hidden or choices in shipping costs aren’t offered.
And finally, avoid unexpected redirects to another site. Link out when you have to in order to provide complete and necessary information, and have the link open in a new pag. In the event that this is not possible for some reason, provide a warning message that people will need to leave the site.
These simple elements combine to give potential customers a high-quality experience on your site, which will in turn reflect how comfortable they are giving you their money. As your website’s usability works together to reduce customer anxiety, you should see an attendant rise in your sales or other conversions.