The customer experience is a key driver for successful businesses, especially in ecommerce. If you’re not investing in customer satisfaction and improving the customer experience, you are missing out on massive potential growth. It is estimated that within 36 months of investing in the customer experience, you could potentially double your revenue. You should also consider that most people are willing to pay more if they know that they are going to have a positive customer experience.
The goal here is to help you better understand the ecommerce customer experience as well as different ways that you can improve it for your customers. How satisfied customers are matters for an ecommerce store, so it’s a wise idea to invest in it for your business.
Understanding Ecommerce Customer Experience
The concept of customer experience is the perception that people have when they interact with a brand. When it comes to ecommerce, this concept is about how they connect with a brand and whether or not the business effectively communicates with them. The customer experience starts when someone first hears about your brand until the moment that they decide to stop working with your brand. Though, some would say that this customer experience extends beyond their breaking up with your brand because there is still a chance that they can come back.
Every industry may seem to have a different approach, but the one thing that remains constant across the difference businesses is the similar pattern to an excellent customer experience. This section will take a closer look at the different aspects of the customer experience. You need to be aware of these aspects of ecommerce customer experience to better understand how to prove it.
Pre-Purchase Customer Experience
It’s important to remember that the ecommerce customer experience begins long before the customer actually purchases a product or service from you. The customer journey actually begins the minute people first hear about your online store. Your ecommerce company should take advantage of the fact that the customer knows about your brand and inspire them to learn more about you. This can help them at least visit your ecommerce store, which can improve your conversions.
So how do you get them your ecommerce site? The real secret is offering them the information that they need to trust your company with their needs. There are a few things that a customer needs to know during this pre-purchase stage to get them to your website, such as:
- The value the brand offers to the customer.
- What do they get out of working with you?
- What options do you offer?
This means that you need to make sure that this information is easily accessible for the potential customer to see. They don’t want to search around in a lot of places to see why they should trust your brand. Be proactive in showing what value you offer the customer. They should know how you can help provide the best solutions for them, offering them goals that they didn’t even know that they have before visiting your company.
Shopping and Purchasing Process
Another important part of the customer experience involves the shopping and purchasing process. When it comes to the shopping and purchasing aspect of the customer experience, offering information is also one of the best approaches that you can take. They want information like how much the products cost or other company policies that could make a difference in whether or not they will purchase from your company. This is just the basic information that you should share with the customer. The more information that you offer, the more likely the customer will take the plunge and purchase products from you. Without this information, you lost the customer. They want to know exactly what they will get with you.
This is also the point where you should offer something that will inspire the customer to follow through with the process. For instance, during the checkout process offer them free shipping. Offering them some sort of discount or deal will help inspire them to go through the process and purchase your products.
Speaking of the checkout process, you need to be sure that this process goes as smoothly as possible. If the process is too complicated, you could lose the customer. The checkout page should be easy to navigate and have an easy to access customer support team if needed.
Your part in offering a stellar customer experience doesn’t end when they make a purchase. Satisfied customers lead to customer retention and repeat purchases. Loyal customers are an important part of the customer experience strategy that you have in place. That’s because customer retention is cheaper than finding new customers. Customers perceptions of you are important even after they purchase from you.
The goal once a customer purchases from you is to keep them engaged with your online business. How does this happen? Customer retention happens by:
- Proactively and regularly send customers promotional offers, updates, and announcements as part of your digital marketing to ensure business growth. Send these through emails or on your social media networks.
- Create events, programs, and various other initiatives that will add more value for your customers.
- Getting both positive and negative feedback from your customers, which can allow you to tweak your approach to improve the customers experiences with you.
Just because someone purchases something from you once and liked your products, that doesn’t guarantee that customer loyalty that you need. You have to give them a reason to come back and purchase products from your company.
Ecommerce Customer Experience Management
Also referred to as ECX Management, this is where you both gain and maintain the control that your brand needs over the various experiences that customers have with your ecommerce site. The goal is for you to anticipate the needs of your customer, even before they know exactly what they want.
You always want to be proactive, not reactive, when it comes to the needs of your customer. The last thing that you want is to scramble around trying to figure out what they need and lose control of the situation. This proactive approach can give you an edge on the competition, offering them value because you have anticipated their needs before they even knew about what they needed.
The best way to gain control over the customer experience is through using the best software. Your ecommerce business success depends on your customer experience software. The buyer’s journey involves so many different aspects, so having one software like Tactful that manages various aspects of the customer experiences can be a convenient and easy-to-use solution.
Why Does The Customer Experience Matter?
So why does customer experience matter so much? The ecommerce customer experience matters because your ecommerce business depends on customers coming back to your brand. If they have a negative experience working with you, then they won’t return. There are a few reasons why the customer experience matters so much. This section will take a closer look at these reasons.
Customer Loyalty and Trust
You can’t build loyalty and trust if you don’t have a positive customer experience. The customers need to be able to trust that you will provide the best solution for their specific needs. Consumers are fickle and don’t want to waste their time or money dealing with a brand that doesn’t care enough about their experience. You need to offer them consistent value and engagement throughout the entire customer journey.
If customers continually gain value from working with your brand, then they will more regularly engage with you. This means that they are going to be more likely to return for your products. Not only will you retain customers this way, but they will also be more likely to share their positive experiences with your ecommerce website. They will tell their friends, family, and anyone else that they interact with about your brand, bringing new customers to your business.
Keeping customers happy and loyal to your brand is essential for making customers happy.
Perceived Value and Selling Proposition
There are many other ecommerce websites like yours, so you will need to find a unique selling proposition that makes you stand out. To stand out, you need to have a higher amount of perceived value than your competition. The experiences customers have with your brand should be unique to your brand, something that cannot be found anywhere else. However, you also need to be sure that your brand is also familiar so that people will engage with your brand.
You are only limited by your capacity for creativity here. Maybe you offer an innovative product that can’t be found anywhere else. Maybe you have customer-centric policies that far exceed the normal standards of the industry. There are so many things that you can do here that will show your value to your customers.
Once you establish that you offer more value than your competition and offer a seamless customer experience, potential customers and returning customers alike will turn to your brand. You can even charge more for your products because customers understand the value that you offer.
To put it simply, your ecommerce company cannot grow if customers aren’t happy with your customer service or experience. In order to achieve the goals that you have set for your business, you need to ensure a positive customer experience. This means that if you want to grow your business, you should be investing in things that will offer you the best possible customer experience. Whether it be through the right customer experience software or proper marketing to your target audience, your business growth depends on ensuring customers are happy.
How Personalization Improves The Ecommerce Customer Experience?
Customers want to feel like they are heard by a brand or company, that the company does pay attention to them. They want an experience that feels unique to them. Personalization is an important aspect of helping your customers feel like they matter to you. This will help them feel more connected to your brand.
Software like Tactful can be really helpful here. Because they have a fully integrated customer experience software, you are able to access all of the information that you need about a specific client. This includes any conversations that you may have had with your customer to give them that personalized experience that they are looking for.
As much as customers like to protect their personal data, they are surprisingly willing to give up that privacy in exchange for something else like saving money. If you just show them irrelevant data, they won’t be happy about sharing their data. But, if you offer them great deals and show them product pages that would actually interest them, they don’t mind their personal data being used for personalization.
In short, customers have extremely high expectations about the level of customer experience that they receive when they share their data.
Best Ways to Improve The Ecommerce Customer Experience
Knowing how to improve the customer experience will help you offer a better ecommerce customer experience that will keep existing customers returning to your business and inspire potential customers to trust your business. Personalization and automation are great starts, but this section will take a closer look at some of the other ways that you can improve the customer experience.
If you really think about it, how much time do you spend on your mobile devices? Most people cannot be separated from their mobile devices. The fact is that these devices are great for giving users instant gratification right at their fingertips. Whenever they have a whim about purchasing a product, they can turn to their smartphone or tablet to access the products and services that they are looking for.
Mobile optimization means that you need to ensure that the high quality images load properly and quickly, as well as the rest of the mobile page on these devices. Site speed matters because people do have a short attention span when it comes to websites. This means that if your actual product pages take forever to load, most customers will just leave your site and go somewhere else. This is business you will lose out on.
Survey The Customers
It’s so important that you have a customer-centric business if you are going to be successful. This means that you need to get feedback from your customers, so that you know how you can improve your business. There are different approaches that you can take here. You can offer multiple surveys to get information directly from your customers as to how you can improve how you operate. Other approaches that you can use include social listening and brand monitoring.
Another option to consider is user-generated content. When talking about user-generated content, this refers to customers leaving reviews about your products or share images of your products. This can be something that they share on your website or on your/their social media platforms. This can be extremely beneficial to your business because it offers social proof, which helps your potential customers build trust in your brand. Current customers who love your products can be your best asset in advertising your products.
Using analytics reports, you can get a closer look at your site. This allows you to see where customers are more likely to engage with your brand as well as where they may have issues engaging with your site. Through analytics, you can see where you need to improve your website to get the most out of it and land the conversions that you need to meet your sales goals.
Omnichannel Customer Experience
Customers do have an expectation of a streamlined omnichannel customer experience. In order to accommodate this, offer buying options for your customers across various platforms. Take advantage of selling on Amazon, getting those with an Amazon Prime to purchase your items. Put your products up on Instagram, especially if your target audience is younger. If you have a physical store, you can also benefit from this approach.
By taking this approach, you are increasing the availability of your products. You are raising brand awareness, taking advantage of these multiple other platforms in order to get the biggest audience to your business. Using sites like Instagram for sales is also highly effective these days as many people spend a lot of time on these social media sites.
Using a Customer-Centric and Data-Driven Approach
It’s crucial that your team takes both a customer-centric and data-driven approach to learn how to best serve customers and ensure future success. With the right data, you can make decisions faster for your business. You will need to adjust your strategy and how your team conducts the valuable research that you need to be successful. This will also help you to take the customer-facing action that is essential for your business as well as making the best decisions for your business.
What’s great about getting the right data from your business is that you are able to make proactive decisions rather than reactive ones. This allows you to get ahead of the game, rather than play guessing games and hoping something works. Rather than a “try and see” approach, you will have concrete data that can show that customers will prefer a specific product or event. You might still need to do some trial and error during this process, but you will be more productive using data than a trial-and-error approach. This leads to ensuring that you have happy customers.
UX and Design Audit
You should take the time to look at your website through the eyes of the customer. There are various aspects of your website that you should be looking at to see if there are any improvements that you can make to your website. There are some areas that you really need to focus on when it comes to improving the user experience.
One major area to look at is the content on your page. You need to have content that is engaging for your customers, both aesthetically and with the valuable information that it offers. The content should be in alignment with who you are as a brand, which offers a seamless ecommerce customer experience that your customers will like. The goal is to create content to lead the potential customer on a customer journey that will lead to conversions.
It’s also very important that you ensure that the customer can easily navigate and search your website. Maybe have a site search bar that the customers can easily see so that they can quickly search for whatever products they are looking for. You will also want to make sure that they can easily navigate through your website to get the information that they are looking for. This means that the website should be organized in a manner that makes sense to the customer. If they are having a hard time navigating your website to get the information that they are looking for, they likely will lose interest and turn to your competition for their products.
Lastly, you want to focus on offering an immersive customer experience for the potential customer. When you offer customers an immersive experience on your website, you are engaging them and inspiring them to purchase products from you. If something breaks them from this experience, they will reconsider whether or not your products are the right choice for them and look for other online merchants. Ecommerce sites should offer a seamless and immersive experience to keep your potential customers focused on purchasing your products.
Going through the UX and design audit can help you see where you need to improve your website to offer the best experience possible for your customer. From the homepage to your product pages, you need to be sure everything functions well and is aesthetically pleasing to the customer.
Amazing Product Pages
Part of having a user-friendly ecommerce website is ensuring that you have amazing product pages that will inspire customers to purchase products from your company. Having product pages that offer everything that the customer needs to know about a product, without overwhelming them, makes a significant difference in whether or not customers will take the plunge and purchase your products.
It all starts by making sure that you have high-quality images of your products. Images can say so much about your products, far more than you can say in words. You can offer a lot of information through pictures without overwhelming the customer with too much information. These pages should also offer a variety of information, including:
- Model numbers
- Anticipated shipping times
With detailed product pages, you can convince potential customers to purchase your products. You can also reduce the number of negative reviews by offering a detailed product page because it allows customers to know exactly what to expect with your products.
Seamless Checkout Process
Your goal should be to make a checkout process that is simple to use and intuitive. This is because a simplified checkout process will improve ecommerce customer experience. One thing that you should do is to enable the option for guest checkouts. This will allow the customer to easily purchase the products that they want without having to go through a signup process that complicated things. You should also offer live chat, which can provide customer service with a real person that can help them through whatever issues that they are having when purchasing from you.
Another option that you should have in you shopping cart software is a feature for saving the customer’s cart. With a save cart option, this allows customers to return to the cart when they make a decision and just purchase the items. You can also offer free shipping as extra incentive for your ecommerce customers to buy from you.
Figure Out Customer Perceptions of Your Brand
Customers perceptions about ecommerce stores are important. That’s why it’s a good idea for you to get people to volunteer their perception of your brand. Doing this can provide you with valuable information that can give you feedback to improve ecommerce customer experience. One approach to doing this is through projective techniques. With this approach, you are going to ask volunteers to describe what the perception of your brand is through the use of symbolic imagery, ideas, or feelings.
Here are some examples of the prompts that you can use to get this information:
- If the brand were a car, which car would it be?
- Think of the brand as a superhero. What would the brand’s weakness be?
Whatever prompts you go with, you have to remember that it’s not just about how they answer the question. It’s also about having them explain why that’s their answer. The “why” is so important because this is what allows you to fully understand their perception of your brand.
Once you get this information, you can go back to any other data that you have collected in the past to see how it lines up with that data. This information, along with things like survey answers, can be very helpful to you. If you want even more specific information, you can go back to anyone who you spoke to before to get more insights into how they perceive your brand. These are things that can keep you hyper focused on the improvements that you need to make with valuable insights from customers. That is what will help improve your business.
You can’t have a customer-centric business without having exceptional customer support services. People want to have access to a customer service team. Customers expect responses as quickly as possible, whether they have questions about products or issues with the products they received. You should have various options where customers can get in touch with you including live support chat on your website, emails, or through social media.
Having exceptional customer service is crucial to having a successful ecommerce business. If an issue arises that upsets the customer, they will be more likely to forgive you if you have accessible customer service that engages with them as quickly as possible.
Research The Customer’s Journey
A major way to improve your customer experience is through understanding the customer journey from the start and far beyond them actually purchasing products from you. This means first understanding the customer lifecycle.
Reach is the first step in the customer lifecycle. This is where they become aware of your brand, which is why marketing and content should be done to focus on this. Then, customers will want to learn more about your brand.
Acquisition is very important, especially in ecommerce. It doesn’t matter if you reach the customers if you can’t offer them the right messaging or content. You need to fully understand your brand as well as who will most benefit from your products. Contact potential customers through personalized communications to improve your chances of conversions.
Your job isn’t done in the cycle once they purchase from you. You should focus on developing and nurturing a relationship with the customer to ensure customer retention.
Customer retention is crucial for business growth and success. Continuing to send messaging and content that is relevant to the customer can be very helpful here. By building trust and getting feedback to improve, you can retain your customers.
If the customers are happy with the products that they received and your customer service, you get to benefit from word of mouth marketing. They will be sure to tell everyone about their experience with you and help promote your brand for you.
Now that you know about the customer’s lifecycle, there are things that you need to consider about this to optimize the customer’s journey.
- Think about the needs of the customers not only at each of the stages of the lifecycle as well as the moments between these stages.
- Think about their needs, expectations, and how you can be the best solution for them.
- What value can you offer that will guarantee that they will continue to engage with your brand?
- What does their journey look like after they have their needs met?
Once you know the journey, you can have an easier time finding out where there are issues in the journey that you offer so you know where you can improve yourself.
Personalization does have a significant impact on how successful your ecommerce business is. In fact, these days personalization is essential for a great customer experience. This is an aspect of ecommerce that is always evolving. It’s important to know that this is more than just offering relevant product recommendations. Now, personalization also includes delivering promotions and content that is custom-tailored for the specific customer through their entire customer journey. This personalization should be based on their circumstances and actions. Timing does matter here, much like with any other marketing approach that you may take. For instance, consider offering free shipping after they have already made a purchase to encourage them to return.
An approach that some businesses are taking is making personalization a part of the services that they offer their clients. There are brands like Stitch Fix, which is known for hand-picking fashion for customers. They use the preferences of the customer as well as their history with the company to determine which products are better suited for them.
This is where AI comes in. AI technology is also always evolving so that it’s better able to both analyze the customer’s data as the ability to facilitate the personalization. AI can be a good investment for your business, especially if you want to create a business model that builds personalization into its offerings for the customers.
Be Both Proactive and Highly Responsive with Customer Engagement
The customer lifecycle has different periods where they will reach out to you, but there are also times where you need to initiate engagement with the customer. Whichever period of the lifecycle that you’re in, the goal of this engagement is to take them to the next step of the customer lifecycle.
Proactive engagement includes:
- Regularly scheduled marketing activities through email, such as newsletters.
- SMS and DM messaging that goes to individual customers and/or specific segments of your audience.
- Messaging through live chat or chatbot for both your on-site audiences and your social media audiences.
Responsive engagement includes:
- Emails for cart abandonment
- Popups that are exit intent
- Surveys that are post-purchase
If you offer prompts or suggestions on how customers can further engage with your business, this makes it so that the customers will more likely do that.
Optimize Your Supply Chain
The supply chain can have a major impact on the customer experience when it comes to the ecommerce industry. Disruptions can and will happen, even under the best circumstances. This can have a negative impact on the customer experience. However, through some preparation you can minimize the chances of this happening.
To properly optimize your supply chain, you need to:
- Make sure that you do what you can to deliver the products at least on time, but preferably earlier.
- Avoid issues like stockouts, which can lead to disappointed customers who will go elsewhere.
- Ensuring that the product is safe throughout the entire supply chain, including while en route to your customer.
It’s very important these days, especially with omnichannel operations and sales, that you centralize the inventory data. If you don’t, the various channels that you use for sales will not be synchronized and you could oversell stock. This will also disappoint customers and lead to them purchasing products elsewhere.
How You Can Monitor The Ecommerce Customer Experience
Now that you understand the basics of the ecommerce customer experience and how to improve it, you should know how to monitor the customer experience. This will help you to make sure that the improvements that you are making is having a significant impact on your business growth. This section will take a look at how you can monitor the customer experience.
Customer Satisfaction Score
It’s important to measure customer satisfaction. The customer satisfaction score can give incredibly valuable insight into your business and how you can improve. A CSAT will measure how satisfied customers are with your products. The process to get this score is through multi-question surveys, where you will look at the different aspects of the experience. Things to be covered in these surveys include shipping and delivery, product quality, and customer support.
You can get relevant and quantitative data by looking at:
- Your complaint-to-resolution ratio
- Your customer retention and churn rates
- The number of complaints that you’ve received over a specific period of time.
By factoring in all of these things, you can see what your customer satisfaction score is.
Net Promoter Score
The NPS (Net Promoter Score) is a concept that refers to the percentage of customers that will recommend your products and business to everyone. This is a commonly used approach to measuring satisfaction because it’s a simple and scalable way for businesses to measure it.
So how do you get this score? To calculate the net promoter score, you will ask customers to use a scale of 0-10 to rate how likely they are to recommend your products or brand to their loved ones or anyone else. This is an important measurement because it shows you the ongoing relationship a customer will have with your business, rather than just one experience with you.
The ultimate goal for an ecommerce business is customer retention and loyalty because it’s cheaper to retain customers than find new ones. These are customers that you can count on to continually return to buy your products. That’s why you should monitor the customer loyalty and churn in order to measure how successful you are with your target audience.
You can measure customer retention and loyalty by:
- Frequency of purchases
- Participation in loyalty program (if applicable)
- Average value of order
- Return rate of purchases
As you can see, the ecommerce customer experience is so important to having a positive experience with a brand. When online customers have a positive experience with a brand, they are not only more willing to return but they will also be more likely to refer your business to their friends and family. The advice here will help you better understand what the ecommerce experience is as well as the different ways you can improve it. By taking this advice, you will notice a significant difference in the success of your business, whether it’s an ecommerce site or a physical store.