The modern world is an incredibly noisy place, rife with distracted, speedy, and forgettable interactions. For a growing business, this presents a formidable challenge. How do you stand out in the crowd and make people remember who you are?
Nowhere is this question more salient than in eCommerce, where items are often sorted by search engines and online stores in such a way where brands seem to disappear. This is why crafting a great eCommerce customer experience is so essential. We’ll talk about how you can do that in this week’s post.
What is Customer Experience?
First, let’s define the term “customer experience.” Decibel Insight does a wonderful job defining customer experience on their website as “an all-encompassing term that refers to every interaction a customer has with a brand across every channel – be it in-store, on the phone, or online.”
In essence, customer experience represents anything a customer will remember about your brand – whether good or bad. Good experiences can make your business memorable, standing out head and shoulders in a crowd. Bad experiences can also make your business memorable, but in a way that attracts nasty tweetstorms from irritated customers.
Sound a little abstract? That’s okay. We’ll name a few elements of the customer experience so this discussion feels less academic and more concrete:
- Website usability: Fast, easy-to-navigate, easy-to-use websites make good experiences. Websites that lack one or more of those qualities make bad experiences.
- Post-purchase experience: After purchasing from your business, are customers never contacted again? Worse, are they bombarded with useless email?
- Packaging: Do your items arrive in yellow mailers or bespoke boxes?
- Support: If something breaks, can your company fix it?
Why Does Customer Experience Matter?
The infrastructure of the Internet compels people to purchase from a company once and then never again. Many seasoned business owners know the danger of a business like this. After all, repeat customers tend to spend more and you don’t have to pay to get them to buy for the first time.
There are two essential statistics that businesses should return to over and over again: lifetime customer value and customer acquisition cost. Lifetime customer value is the amount customers spend on your company and customer acquisition cost is the amount it costs to get someone to buy for the first time. Naturally, you want lifetime customer value to greatly exceed customer acquisition cost in order to stay in business.
From a hard-nosed, numbers-oriented perspective, focusing on customer experience makes sense. Paying attention to the best practices that stem from the growing field of customer experience will help you remove obstacles that prevent customers from purchasing either initially or on an ongoing basis. Simultaneously, your business will become more capable at identifying opportunities that to make a customer’s day so much better that they will never forget you.
9 Ways to Create a Great eCommerce Customer Experience
But how exactly do you make customers remember you? How do ensure enjoy their purchasing experience and want to come back for more? These are good questions, and we have nine specific ways in mind that you can use right now to ensure your business is providing customers with an excellent experience.
1. Make your website easy and fun to use.
It seems like almost a no-brainer at this point, but it’s an undeniable truth: easy-to-use websites provide better experiences. Once you start seeing a significant volume of traffic on your website, the tiniest tweaks can go a long way toward your bottom line.
- Make sure your website has good navigation and that products are easy to find.
- Keep the checkout process simple.
- Where appropriate, customize your experience with recommendations.
- Include customer reviews.
- Personalize transaction emails.
2. Pay extra attention to searchability.
Following the logic of the previous tip, if you want to provide a great customer experience, pay extra attention to the search feature of your website. When customers are not able to find what they need on your website, it’s a bad experience. Sure, some people will go to Google to try to find a product on your website indirectly, but you should not rely on another website to cover gaps in your website’s usability.
3. Make checking out as easy as possible.
Want to hear a shocking statistic? Seventy-six percent of people go through all the hassle of finding an item online and adding it to their cart, and never actually make the purchase. More than three-quarters of online shoppers will abandon their carts! It seems almost too strange to be true, but it is.
Optimizing your checkout page to keep shoppers engaged can help drop your shopping cart abandonment rate. The simplest tweaks can make your checkout experience much easier, and thus increase sales.
4. Personalize the post-purchase experience.
It’s easy to focus on getting customers to purchase. So much so that business owners often fixate on just closing one sale, instead of creating a customer experience that keeps people coming back again and again. That means when a customer finalizes their purchase, you shouldn’t just shake hands and say, “it was nice knowing you.”
This is where the post-purchase experience is critical. Collect their email address and start sending personalized post-purchase transactions. Craft well-written thank you pages that reflect your brand’s personality. Follow up with order confirmation emails, particularly ones that include one-time coupons. Be sure to ship their order promptly as well.
5. Pay attention to packaging.
In a world where most packages arrive in plain brown boxes, bespoke packaging can make a very memorable statement. Indeed, custom packaging is of the most underused elements of branding and can provide an excellent and unique customer experience when done correctly.
Keep in mind that we live in a world where people post their unboxing videos to YouTube and Instagram. Keeping an eye on design trends can help you make custom packaging that makes a great impression!
6. Make great product pages.
Imagine you stumble across a product online and you don’t know a whole lot about it. In a few short seconds, you have to make a judgment call about how good the product is based on images, copy, and maybe reviews. You process a large amount of information in a very short span of time.
This is exactly what your customers go through on your own website. For this reason, it is vitally important that you spend your time making product pages that make customers want to buy. Product pages are where customers make decisions, so customer experience is especially important here!
7. Provide great customer service and product support.
Customer experience doesn’t stop when your customer makes the purchase. Your items will break and some will need to be returned. That means when customers are unhappy or confused about how to use your product, you need great customer service in place to help smooth out any bumps in the road.
One thing that we encourage you to pay particularly close attention to is reverse logistics. It’s surprisingly common for customers to send items back to the sellers they came from. It’s also surprisingly common for sellers to have no clue what to do with items when they go back to the warehouse.
8. Publish educational and interesting content.
Customer experience starts long before the decision to buy as well. You need to signal to prospective customers that you care about their success. One great way to do this while also reaching out to new people is to create high-quality educational content. Failing that, at least be interesting or entertaining!
9. Add chatbots and conversational AI.
Even the best sales rep can’t answer questions at all hours of the day every single day. Chatbots, on the other hand, never sleep. Implementing a good conversational AI system on your website can help your company answer common questions and handle common objections without taking up a real, living, breathing employee’s time. Not to mention, the speedy response can provide a great customer experience!
The 2020s are likely to be all about creating experiences that stand out. Focus on ways to delight your customer and to make them feel like they are in good hands!
You’ve done everything by the book. Your Kickstarter campaign is almost ready to launch.
You made a great product. Built an audience. Set up a campaign page.
But how do you ship it?
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