Why Online Businesses Shouldn’t Be Afraid To Give Their Customers More Power

By Elliot Mark, Senior Copywriter at Ecommerce Platforms

Although they’ve “always been right”, customers have never had the power they do in 2021.

Sure, you might not be able to bargain with Amazon, but you can freely return products as you wish and have large corporations begging you for forgiveness over public platforms if they say otherwise.

So, why on Earth would you want to hand over more power to your customers?

It’s a difficult question to answer, and one that is rooted in the unique customer/business relationship we experience every day. In a world where we’re all brands and everything we do online is tracked as a business metric, it’s almost impossible to escape that relationship. Here’s how more customer power can become a net benefit for your brand.

It takes the pressure off your customer service team

Customer service teams have never been under such stress.

The increased importance of customer happiness has brought with it a drive from companies to stop it at the source. This has led to businesses of all shapes and sizes investing heavily in customer service. Now your average employee isn’t just handling incoming phone calls, but social media queries, emails and messages landing directly in their social inboxes.

While having multiple points of contact is great (and essential) for a business looking to grow, it is verging on becoming a burden for most. An empowered customer is one that doesn’t need their handheld by a real person throughout the process because they have webpages, PDFs and physical guides full of information about your brand and how to shop/work with you.

At the same time, thanks to the advancement of chatbot software such as Crisp. Chat, businesses can offer an attentive, hands-on service without keeping their customer service stations manned 24/7. Having these options in place significantly reduces the stress on your customer service department, allowing them to focus on other tasks and pass on tedious, repetitive questions to bots who will continue to generate leads.

It empowers them to leave feedback

The power of feedback cannot be understated.

Every time you’re looking for a hotel, restaurant or gift store (whether offline or online) you look through the reviews and feedback, right? It’s become part of our everyday shopping experience, and one that has allowed us to feel more empowered and trusting in the brands we give our money to.

By opening up your brand to be judged, either by listing yourself on a review platform such as FeeFo or linking your business to Google Reviews, you empower the customer and show your own personal belief in your brand, products and services.

Brands don’t exist in a void anymore. Building up a name requires having five stars next to your name and a slew of happy customers detailing their free delivery, next-day service and the friendly voice on the end of the line. It might not feel like empowerment, but shying away from this can significantly harm your relationships with future customers.

It turns them into inquisitive brand advocates

In the 2020s, companies will only become more multi-faceted, dipping their toes in new waters and entrepreneurial avenues.

This is the modern way to strengthen a brand and reach out to people. It’s why Jeff Bezos is going into space and how Glossier transformed from blog to ecommerce store. You have to keep growing.

The problem is: customers who don’t feel valued by you will struggle to take interest in your new ventures. As every good business leader knows, it’s cheaper to keep an old customer than to bring in new ones, so having these people along for the ride is essential. If they feel like they’re valued and have influence over your brand, they’ll take their time to explore new sites and offerings.

This might not mean they convert there and then, but it ingrains you in their mind and (more importantly) conversations with family and friends. Unwittingly, they’ve become brand advocates through their perceived influence.

It makes them feel like a valued partner

In today’s world, customers want to feel like they’re part of the brand. This is why so much of advertising feels inclusive of the customer and brands have pumped millions into building online armies around company advocates and influencers.

If you feel like you can make a difference to the brand and hold some power over them you feel like more than a customer, you become a partner.

This came into fruition throughout the summer of 2020, where brands scrambled to commit themselves to radical change and social justice movements. This was evidence of customer power in action, and the sight of them making a difference endearing many people to those brands, turning them into customers for life.

You might want to keep your customers at arm’s length, but the power to turn them into equals doesn’t make them look down on your business, it simply places them on a level playing field where they can better understand you.

How to empower your customers

So, how do you go about giving your customers more power? Here are some very simple tricks and developments you can make right now:

  • Introduce knowledge bases to encourage autonomous customer service
  • Open your social media pages to comments and responses
  • Show you’re listening to them through content
  • Take all security concerns out of their hands
  • Give them the right to opt-out

Brands need not be afraid of their customers.

Yes, a few bad reviews can really make you stand out against premier brands, but great feedback and genuine loyalty are worth the risk of empowering your customers. If you have a solid brand with great output, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.