Savvy brands with strong e-commerce strategies, like REI, Toro, and Lowe’s, understand that delivering a better customer experience (CX) results in greater profitability.
If you’re gearing up to take your business to the next level, you’ll need to enhance your CX from the ground up. Improvements to your website, customer service, and order fulfillment can turn casual browsers into loyal customers.
Here are seven ways you can improve your customer experience:
1. Build a Better User Experience (UX)
The modern customer journey often begins online, with customers researching and price-comparing products and services on the internet before making any solid purchase decisions. Creating a world-class customer experience starts with your website. Everything from your home-page value proposition to your checkout flow needs to be seamless to instill confidence. Ensuring that your visitors can quickly find what they are looking for is easier said than done. This can be especially difficult for larger sites.
You can start improving your UX by following best practices by page type. For example, on product pages, large, high-resolution photos are a must. People can’t interact with your product before buying it, so descriptive language and zoom-able photos can go a long way in building site visitors’ confidence.
The only way to get a true sense of what works best is to test it. Hiring testing experts to find issues with your site usability can uncover major issues that you were not aware of. Ongoing testing of different value propositions, text, button copy, and even layouts can help maximize revenue.
2. Be Prepared with Answers to Your Customer’s Questions
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that price is the only barrier for a visitor making a purchase. Maybe she’s not sure that your “medium” blouse is the right size. Or maybe he’s wondering if a 20-horsepower mower is enough to handle his 6-foot-high grass.
Instead of writing a 3,000-word product description, you can tap into the power of live chat. Using chat to respond to questions is especially important for millennials, as 60% of them prefer live chat when wanting to ask a question.
Tapping into user-generated content is another powerful way to address customer questions. Reviews add social proof and help customers decide on which products to buy. Often, shoppers can find answers to their questions by reading reviews.
Increasing the amount of user-generated content should be a priority for any e-commerce business. Amazon has taken this to the next level with Q&A’s and customer-provided product photos. Retailers are too quick to offer discounts, and less thorough when it comes to addressing buyer questions.
3. Give Your Automated Emails a Spark of Life
Automated transactional emails are essential to every e-commerce store. These five emails should be the silent workhorse of your brand:
- Shopping Cart Abandonment
- Order Confirmation
- Shipping Confirmation
- Customer Feedback Email
- Product Review Email
Many of these transactional emails are dull and lifeless. Is that how you want your customers to feel about you?
Once you have a well-defined target audience, you can craft messaging that truly connects with your customers. Witty wording may be great for sarcastic millennials, but you probably don’t want to try to be funny if your customer base is mostly made up of serious accountants. Bark Box is a great example of a simple, yet personable automated email.
4. Tie Customer Success to Your Bottom Line
Delegating customer service to the lowest-paid person in your company is a mistake.
Your entire organization needs to be “bought in” to delivering best-in-class customer service. Company culture and pay structure should reflect that. Set goals for your customer experience initiatives, and tie customer success to all of your employees’ bottom line. In an interview, Mike Schuil, a consumer insight professional, calls this giving your customer service teeth.
You can measure progress by using surveys, or analyzing unstructured feedback. Improving metrics like response time on social media, live chat, or help desk is a simple way to improve customer service. When customers are happy, everyone wins.
5. Implement Relationship-Focused Customer Loyalty Programs
Repeat business is the holy grail of an e-commerce business. A little boost in customer retention can have a huge impact on profitability. But many brands fail to get traction with loyalty programs. In fact, 77% of transaction-based programs fail in the first two years.
Customers are looking for more than discounts, but 97% of loyalty programs are based just on coupons or deals.
Successful programs reward customers for engagement like sharing, commenting, and leaving product reviews. You can learn more about successful loyalty programs by checking out this guide.
6. Make Product Delivery an Experience
Carefully packaging a product isn’t good enough anymore. The unboxing of a product needs to be an experience. The shipping box, tissue paper, stickers, thank-you notes, samples, and even tape can make a difference in branding.
Finch Goods ditches generic cardboard boxes for high-end packaging to help position itself as a premium brand.
52% of consumers are likely to make repeat purchases from brands that deliver premium packaging. Without a likable brand, you’re competing on price. Check out this guide from Shopify for tips on creating a premium packaging experience.
7. Strive To Deliver a Consistent Multichannel Experience
According to desk.com, 90% of customer expect to receive a consistent experience through various channels. So, if you sell on your website, your customers will expect an Amazon-level online shopping experience; and if you sell on Amazon, your customers will expect a delivery experience as good as you would provide personally. Margins are often larger when selling on your own website, so companies try to sweeten the deal by offering extended warranties or other benefits to customers who purchase from the company website.
For example, Ninja offers a lifetime VIP service guarantee for purchases made directly through their website. You can buy the same product on Amazon and only get a 1-year warranty. This could create a purchase barrier for people who prefer to shop on Amazon.
In reality, it is difficult to deliver a consistent experience on shopping platforms that you don’t own. For example, when you sell on Amazon, Ebay, or Etsy, the website owns the customer experience. To help with this, you can create specific hashtags for your brand or rewards program. Makeup company Sephora uses #VIBRouge on Twitter to keep tabs on mentions of their rewards program.
Putting closed-loop feedback systems in place is essential for any global retail brand.