To introduce the concept of customer experience in eCommerce we’ll use the familiar concept of a brick and mortar store. Successful brick and mortar stores are more complex than initially meets the eye, they deliver a calculated experience that leaves you feeling a certain way. From more obvious things such as store layout to the more subtle touches such as store temperature and smell, you name it brands have thought about it.
By comparison, the digital nature of eCommerce provides businesses with the challenge of multiple selling channels, increased competition, and a lack of feedback. This reduction in control over customer experience should not be seen by businesses as a reason to forgo efforts to make customers happy. Instead, businesses should view the challenge as an opportunity to differentiate from the competition.
The eCommerce industries digital landscape involves minimal human interaction throughout a customer’s buyer journey. This reduction in touchpoints increases the importance of those that remain. Furthermore, businesses have varying degrees of control over specific touchpoints depending on the selling channel. Therefore, extra vigilance is required to portray your brand as you’d wish to. Ensuring customers have a great experience, and so form a positive affinity to your brand.
It’s no secret the eCommerce industry has seen immense growth in recent times. What was in 2016 a $1.84 trillion global industry is now $6.38 trillion in 2021. The result of this statistic is increased demand and competition, it’s difficult for businesses to stand out from the crowd and be remembered by customers. Additionally, the rise of marketplaces has scaled the challenge of being remembered for businesses. By their nature marketplaces nullify branding, providing a uniform shopping experience where customers view products not brands. How then can businesses differentiate? An important part of the solution lies in customer experience.
Having explored the importance of customer experience, we now take a customer-centric view and look at what’s important to customers. If we assume that a potential customer visits one of your selling channels with buyer intention there are then three main factors that truly matter to them.
Understanding the value proposition you offer your target market versus your competition will help inform pricing. Think carefully about what effect your pricing will have on customer experience. Many brands find success in outperforming rather than outpricing their competition.
Convenience is arguably the primary cause for the increasing popularity of eCommerce, this can be seen in the success of marketplaces. Understanding this and doing everything possible to make buying from you undeniably simple is vital. The ease of purchase of your products comes as a result of an easy to use website, a robust payment system along with fast or cheap fulfilment options.
Trust and credibility are impacted by a variety of factors, establishing sustainable trust from customers is achievable through authentic strategies. By providing an exceptional customer experience you will enjoy consumer recommendations, word-of-mouth as well as positive online reviews.
A lack of personalisation
The mentioned lack of human interaction throughout the customer's journey can leave the customer feeling undervalued. To resolve this issue, we recommend personalising when possible. This could be as simple as including the customer's name within emails. More established brands may be able to justify powerful recommendation engines that actively tailor website experience for visitors based on a database and live customer data such as website behaviour and past purchasing habits. However, we understand that not all brands achieve the revenue to implement systems like this. So simply personalising the customer’s checkout procedure or email correspondence is a great place to start.
Poor customer support
Quality customer support is a primary factor that not only draws customers to your brand but has also been seen to cause customers to buy directly from your website instead of an alternative selling channel. This improves profit margins and reduces dependence on 3rd party selling channels where you have reduced control.
The quality of customer service you provide is largely dependent on those hired for the job. Not hiring the right employees is the number one reason for poor customer service. We suggest that you look further than relevant experience and skills, employees should have the right attitude, mindset, and a natural passion for helping people. Couple this with an ongoing structured training process and you can be confident in your support teams ability to provide a great customer experience.
Swollen customer expectations
A customer’s expectation of a product can be the cause of disappointment. A disparity between customer expectations and what your business is offering frequently becomes the catalyst of poor customer experience. Although the entire customer journey impacts customer expectations, product descriptions are the primary cause of misaligned expectations. This is most commonly due to descriptions not aligning with the product or hidden costs later in the purchasing process. Ensuring your product descriptions are clear and accurate leads to satisfied customers and will likely reduce your return rate metric.
Delivering repetitive or conflicting information to customers negatively impacts their confidence in your brand. We recommend taking the time to ensure that your messaging is consistent across channels and processes. A calculated communication strategy refers to more than just customer service scripts. It’s the tone and clarity of all communication touchpoints a customer may experience, from website text through to fulfilment notifications. This is made easier by having a single location where all your communication starts and ends.
Our blog post on website performance highlights the negative impact of making customers wait can have on purchasing behaviour. By making small changes you can achieve more revenue without increasing your website traffic. We recommend taking customer waiting times into account at each stage of a customer’s journey. By doing so you will see improved metrics where it matters. With improved website speeds, you will enjoy improved conversion rates, having a smooth checkout process reduces cart abandonment, and an efficient fulfilment solution ensures orders delivered on time, solidifying their opinion of your brand and increasing repeat purchases.