With COVID-19-related questions clogging call centres over the past several months, more customers are turning to businesses’ websites to find information before trying to place a call. From February to April, website visits from consumers seeking information about businesses increased by an average of 65%, and by as much as 376% in some industries, according to research released earlier this year by Zendesk.
The fact that business website visits might increase at a time of unexpected store closures — and staggered reopenings — is hardly surprising. But it’s not just website visits that are on the upswing: Yext research shows that Yext Answers customers saw an 88% growth in volume of questions/searches from February 2020 to April 2020. This tells us that when customers have the ability to do so, they’re using site search to ask more questions, more often.
This trend makes sense, right? Long customer service wait times, call escalations and confusion are always frustrating. And according to the Harvard Business Review, “A dramatic increase in customer effort is bad news… high-effort interactions are far more likely to lead to churn and far less likely to result in any sort of new sale.”
So, more customers going online to ask questions on businesses’ websites could actually be great news for these businesses — provided that their customers can easily find the answers they’re looking for.
Delivering an exceptional search experience on your website — today and tomorrow
You might already know that customers who search on your website are quite valuable — the 15% of customers who use site search account for 45% of ecommerce revenue. This is because customers who come to your site with a focused search intent (e.g., "small charcoal grill for patio”) are expressing a specific need, making them more likely to purchase than someone who comes to your site just to click around.
Delivering answers to these motivated customers is incredibly important at all times, but the COVID-19 crisis of the past several months has added an additional layer: customers who aren’t quite as far down the purchase funnel now have informational questions about everything from store reopening updates to cleaning protocols. Delivering answers to these new types of questions builds brand trust and makes your customers more likely to return — even if they don’t make an immediate purchase from their first search.
This shows why your business should be investing in ways to expand your ability to answer customer questions online through exceptional site search. Surfacing targeted answers to these questions stands to increase both conversions and brand trust.
A big part of creating and managing an exceptional search experience is making sure that you rely on a site search provider who gives you the ability to monitor what questions your customers are asking, and how they’re asking them, so you can update your answers accordingly. Today, your customers are likely asking questions about COVID-19 responses and reopening protocols — but who knows what they’ll be asking in the future?
The overarching lesson here is that your website needs to be responsive and adaptable. When you first set up search on your website, you’re calibrating it to a moment in time — how your website exists at that moment. But as your website changes (because you add new pages or update information, like so many businesses are doing today) the quality of your search results will inevitably decline.
When your customers come to you with new questions, you can meet their needs if you have the right search analytics and a search quality team to help maintain the quality of your site search experience over time. Another advantage? Investing in great site search today can help you lower your support costs — something that just about every business needs as we weather the present recession and look to the future.
Curious? Learn even more about the essential elements of great site search here.