It’s easy to recognise an amazing customer experience when you have one. Maybe you’re a book-lover: it starts as you walk into the bookstore, when the shop assistant greets you with a smile and says all the books on the centre table are half price. You know exactly the book you’re looking for, because they emailed you about its release yesterday, and you know it’s in stock, because you checked on their website just an hour ago. Thanks to clear in-store signage, you know exactly where to find it, so in no time you’re carrying it over to the counter to pay, secure in the knowledge they’ll accept your preferred payment method. You’re surprised when the assistant quickly checks your account and suggests a few new books you might also like—one of them is on the sale table! So you grab that, too, and head out with a smile on your face, carrying a store-branded tote with more books than you’d hoped for.
Yes, it’s easy to picture in a bricks-and-mortar store, but how does the superstar experience translate to ecommerce? It’s never been more important to answer this question correctly, with customer experience set to be the leading brand differentiator by 2020 and around 86% of customers already willing to pay more for a better experience. So, how can you shape your customers’ experience to get them spreading the word about your superior service? Here are three growing customer experience trends to get you started:
1. Take an Omni-Channel Approach
The modern shopper expects to be able to transact across all your different sales channels with a consistent experience. This goes well beyond using the same branding on different platforms: your customers want to feel like they’re talking to the same person, whether they’re visiting your Facebook page, chatting with a support consultant in your online shop, or reading your product details on eBay. They want you to recognise them as the same customer across all your channels, so they can pick up where they left off last time without having to repeat themselves or rebuild their profiles on different platforms—a source of frustration to 87% of customers.
Choosing an omni-channel ecommerce platform is one of the easiest ways to reap the biggest benefits of a strong omni-channel strategy, like bringing customer retention rates up to 89%—well over the 33% experienced by companies with weaker strategies—and boosting your profits.
2. Use Your Customer Data Wisely
Whenever someone visits your website, likes your Facebook post, or adds something to their shopping cart, you’re collecting data about them. And this data is the key to unlocking a personalised customer experience that delivers the information, products and services your customers want, when they want.
As you might expect, this customer-focused micro data lies at the other end of the spectrum from big data. Instead of looking at trends across your entire customer base, micro data analysis delves into the intricacies of individuals, including their:
- buying habits and preferences
- responsiveness to marketing campaigns via email, social media or pop-ups
- browsing and product-viewing preferences
- communication and support preferences.
This enables you to shape each customer’s experience, addressing their needs as an individual rather than making assumptions about what they might want.
You probably won’t be able to get all the information you need through automated tracking, and if you want to find out more about what you customers think of you, the best way is to just ask them. You can conduct customer satisfaction surveys through voting buttons in your online store (“Was this helpful?” or “Did you find what you were looking for?”) or in a follow-up email, using the Net Promoter Score (or similar). It’s worth knowing what you’re doing right, because 72% of customers will spread the word about a positive experience.
You can make it easier for customers to hear that positive feedback by encouraging them to add reviews to your product listings. This helps build a community around your brand, with customers sharing information on how they use your products and what they love about them. More importantly, 55% of online shoppers say reviews influence their buying decisions—and you’re putting those reviews right where they can see them.
3. Make It Mobile
Over 30% of ecommerce sessions are now taking place on mobile devices and that number is set to grow in the future. Even when they’re shopping in a bricks-and-mortar store, consumers are checking prices online, looking for a better deal—or a better customer experience. Be sure your online store is catering to their needs with a fully responsive design so they can complete their transactions on a mobile device, from browsing right through to payment. Make it easy for customers to search items, view similar products, and go back to pages they’ve viewed recently. If they’re out and about, there’s a chance they’ll get interrupted, so help them pick up where they left off with saved carts. And give them ways to pay that make full use of their mobile capability, like PayPal or digital wallets.
Keeping on top of the latest changes in ecommerce strategies and technology will help you give your customers the best possible experience. Start by integrating your sales channels to give your customers some consistency, then use customer data to personalise your approach and deliver targeted campaigns where most interactions happen—on mobile devices.