Today’s customers have high expectations. Any good marketer knows that adding friction to the buying process reduces conversions and ultimately sales.

In a 2012 report by Echo, they found that 55% of consumers have planned to make a purchase, but did not end up making that purchase because of a poor customer service experience.

We’ve all experienced some sort of buying experience where you had questions that you needed answered before you purchased. You may have been looking to get your roof replaced or house painted and never got a call back on a quote. Or, maybe you were looking for a birthday gift online and couldn’t find the colors or sizes. Many times I’ve found it difficult to find the return policy of some small merchants which makes me less likely to buy from them. In any scenario, it would be ideal to have an easy way to ask questions and then immediately buy.

If you were the business in any of these cases, you may be unintentionally leaving money on the table. What hurdles are between you and your future customers?

Here are four easy tips to optimize your online buying process:

  1. Clear call-to-action. Don’t get in the way of someone trying to give you money. Make your calls-to-action clear and make the payment process easy.
  2. Documenting your customers’ purchase process. Documenting the steps of your customers’ purchase process may uncover opportunities to improve. Try to put yourself in the shoes of your leads. Don’t map your ideal process. Instead map all the ways that your customers buy from you. One way to accomplish this is to take screenshots and paste them into a slide deck. Another way you can map the purchase process is to stick post-it notes on a wall inside your office. Either way you can easily make changes and identify gaps. The goal is to tailor the experience to your customers’ needs, not to what’s easiest for you. Uncover opportunities to improve by documenting the steps of your customers’ purchase process. Click To Tweet
  3. Send abandoned cart messages. Earlier this year, Business Insider reported that consumers left $4 trillion worth of merchandise in their shopping carts. Sending a friendly reminder to your prospects to finish their purchase is an easy way to recoup lost revenue. They will probably appreciate the reminder, too!
  4. Add live chat. Consider adding live chat to your site or at least your checkout page. Instead of allowing customers to leave without purchasing due to frustration or unanswered questions, empower them to quickly reach out to a real person. Chat can help you recover those potential lost sales and it tailors the experience to the individual customer.

Small business owners are up against some fierce competition online. Consumers have a lot of options today (especially online)! Don’t make your prospects hunt and peck for answers.

One way to differentiate your business from others is to streamline your buying process as much as possible. Customer experience matters today more than ever before.