With the number of ecommerce stores continuing to rise sharply, how do you expand your business and stand out from the crowd? The answer is your customer service.
We’ve rounded up the 5 most important things to focus on.
What is customer experience?
Also known as CX, customer experience is how your customers perceive your business. Is their impression good or bad? Every moment when a customer is interacting with your band has the potential to affect their perception, so make every moment count.
In order to do so, you need to focus on offering a five-star customer experience.
Why is customer experience important for growing your business?
In an online world crammed full of e-commerce stores, customer experience is the very best way you can stand out from the crowd. Focusing on creating the best customer experience possible can improve your overall revenue, increase sales, and drive brand loyalty.
By developing a deeper understanding of your customer’s habits, you can create a customer experience management strategy that helps drive customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. You can have the best product on the market at a great price point, but if your customer experience is negative, then customers will simply look elsewhere.
Be aware that once you’ve developed and implemented your strategy, it’s still important to check if it can be improved regularly. While over 80% of businesses say their customer service is excellent, only 8% of their customers tend to agree. Ouch.
A great way to avoid this disconnect is to continually develop the best customer experience by incorporating the feedback from your customers into your strategy. By following the patterns you may see developing across multiple channels, you can see where any changes need to be made. Some ideas of what to analyze at include:
- Social media
- Contact forms
- Online reviews
- Chat and phone conversations
You may find some comments are made across the board - perhaps you’re consistently getting feedback that your tracking information isn’t detailed enough, in which case you know that it needs improving. Other feedback may be specific to a particular channel, such as a slow response to social media messages.
By paying attention to your customer experience, you can create positive interactions that help drive business growth. Here’s what to concentrate on.
5 Things You Need to Focus on for a Positive Customer Experience to Grow Your Business
Ready to know how getting laser-focused on your customer experience can help grow your business? These are the e-commerce trends you need to focus on when designing your customer experience management strategy.
1. Convenience is Priority for Customers
Even more important than the price of your products is how convenient you make your shopping experience for customers. Research from the National Retail Federation found that 90% of consumers in the US will choose which retailer to purchase from based not on price but convenience. Taking the time to create a shopping experience that’s easy to navigate is now more critical than ever. This trend is only set to grow, with 78% of customers saying that an easy and convenient shopping experience is more important to them now than it was a year ago, according to research from Linnworks.
So what are the most important factors when it comes to convenience? Consumers expect:
- Guest check-out options. Most customers don’t want to spend lots of time completing multiple forms with all their information, especially when they’re just trying to make a quick purchase. Make their lives as easy as possible by allowing for fast guest checkout options. With research by Linnworks showing that 67% of customers have abandoned their purchase due to a complicated checkout process, making things as easy as possible is a really crucial point.
- Seamless shopping across devices. With more and more customers switching to browsing stores on their mobile devices, offering a seamless shopping experience across any device is becoming a key trend. While the exact breakdown of which customer prefers what device depends on the demographics of your target market, on average, 47% of customers will begin their shopping experience on their mobile, but they will often switch devices, with 57% of purchases being ultimately completed on computers, according to research by Linnworks.
- Shipping information saved for future use. This point might sound slightly contradictory now we know that many customers like to use guest checkout options, but for repeat customers, storing their shipping information can encourage repeat business. Consider how you can offer both options - being able to choose between fast guest checkouts or storing their shipping information for the future should keep all your customers happy.
2. Creating a Seamless Customer Journey is Critical
It’s important to consider every single step along your customer journey and make sure these all flow seamlessly from one to the next. While many businesses make the mistake of thinking that their price point is the most important factor, your customer journey is actually far more critical. Linnworks’ research found that 46% of customers would choose to pay more for their purchase if it’s as easy as possible for them to buy.
So how do you go about optimizing your customer journey to make it as seamless as possible? Create a customer journey map. This identifies each step of interaction and can help you pinpoint exactly how your customers are engaging at each stage of their journey.
You can start off by creating a short map that concentrates on the five main stages of a customer journey: engage → buy → use → share → complete. Once you’ve done that, you may choose to expand specific stages, particularly if you find a certain pain point along the way that affects many customers. If you’re getting many customer support inquiries about setting up your product, then maybe your instructions need to be more detailed. Ask yourself about what questions, motivations, or barriers may impact your customer at each stage, and work out how to address these.
Customer service should also form a major part of your customer journey, as 70% of customers will spend more with a business that offers excellent customer service. Consider setting some key performance indicators, making your FAQs page as user-friendly as possible, and being as proactive as possible. Adding in strategies to increase growth, like using live chat, automating tasks, and getting your First Response Time (FRT) as low as possible, can all help to optimize your customer experience as much as possible.
Research shows that there are five main factors that negatively affect a customer’s perception of a business:
- Long response times
- Customer service queries left unanswered
- Lack of human interaction (too many chatbots or auto-replies)
- Lack of personalization
Work on addressing these, and you’ll be well on your way to an excellent customer journey that keeps people coming back for repeat purchases.
3. Prioritize Social and Marketplace Party
Having a strong sales channel strategy can help grow your brand reach by making sure you’re visible across a range of channels, getting your products in front of potential customers.
Many customers now discover new products even when they’re not actively looking. So rather than waiting for new customers to discover you, bring your products directly to where they spend a lot of time - social media. Research by Linnworks found that 35% of customers have now bought items through their social media feed. Facebook leads the way, with 67% of purchases.
Again, the leading reason that customers give for shopping through social media is, you guessed it, convenience. 82% of customers say they enjoy this convenience of shopping through social media, according to research by Linnworks. This strategy is also a great way to tap into customers who make impulse purchases, as 76% say they’ve made an impulsive purchase while on social media.
Consider exactly how you structure your social sales and prioritize offering your customers the option to complete social media purchases rather than redirect them to your website. With 71% of customers preferring this option, not offering it could mean you miss out on sales.
Marketplaces are also a hugely important channel to consider, with sales from platforms like eBay, Amazon, and Etsy accounting for 50% of sales online. Combine this with the fact that 90% of customers will use marketplaces as their first port of call when shopping and you can’t afford to ignore this segment of the market.
Marketplaces offer the ability to compare multiple products at the same time, another convenience that customers love. Consider them the modern equivalent of the old-school department store. Using these channels also allows you to reach a huge audience you may not normally target. Most DTC ecommerce brands don’t have a huge marketing budget to get their products in front of a global audience, but marketplaces can offer that ability for a relatively low fee.
4. Provide Seamless and Flexible Payment Options
Once you’ve considered how to create a convenient and seamless customer experience across all channels, it’s time to turn your thoughts to payment options. Again it’s no surprise that offering a range of flexible payment options is a key driver of success.
Consider how to make your payment options as flexible as possible. Shopify suggests that offering a buy now, pay later option can increase checkout completion by 30%. Customers also say that flexible payments make it easier and faster for them to make a decision, and they’re also more likely to make a large purchase.
If you’re not offering to buy now, pay later, then you’re missing out on 80% of customers who now expect this to be automatically offered, even on small-ticket items like clothing, according to Linnworks research.
5. Focus on Delivery Transparency and a Clear Returns Policy
Your customer’s experience doesn’t stop after they’ve made their purchase but extends into the post-purchase experience as well. This can make the difference between creating loyal customers or those who found your customer experience lacking and deciding to make future purchases with another business.
The post-purchase experience is just as important as all the stages that precede it. Consider every step of your customer’s post-purchase pathway, including:
- Confirmation emails
- Tracking details and updates
- Information about loyalty programs
- Seasonal discounts or promotions
- Newsletter subscriptions
- Clearly laid-out returns process
Delivery transparency is vital, as is offering a choice of different shipping options. Some customers will always tend to choose free delivery, even if they have to wait longer to receive their item. Others expect next-day shipping and will happily pay the additional fee for this.
When it comes to email marketing, don’t forget to make it personal. Customers want that individual touch that makes them feel connected to your brand. Make sure any marketing emails use your customer’s first name to foster that sense of connection and loyalty.
It’s also important to consider your inventory management and how this affects your deliveries. If you don’t have a strong system in place, you may struggle to keep a close eye on how much stock you have to hand. This is especially true if you sell across multiple channels and marketplaces.
Don’t leave your return policy as an afterthought either, as 70% of ecommerce customers will review this before deciding whether or not to make a purchase. The main things customers are looking for when it comes to returns are:
- Shipping transparency
- Clear returns policy
- Pre-paid returns labels
- No need to involve a customer service assistant
When considering your customer experience management, getting into a total commerce mindset is the best way forward. This means making your products available wherever your customers are, on their terms. While DTC may be at the core of your strategy, it’s also important to optimize your customer experience across all channels if you want to grow your business successfully.
If you’re looking for a complete inventory management solution to help you ensure five-star customer service across all channels, then using a total commerce platform like Linnworks is the answer. This will help you manage everything from inventory to fulfillment on one dashboard and provide a high level of insights to help drive the continual improvement of your customer experience. And that’s what will keep your customers coming back for more.