Virtually every ecommerce brand would agree that customer experience (CX) is a top priority. We all want to delight customers, provide smooth purchasing experiences, and leave shoppers with a positive impression.
But too often, CX is an abstract ideal that gets discussed but not implemented. Most CX advice is too vague to be actionable.
At Gorgias, CX is not abstract — it's concrete and measurable. And it's the best path to ecommerce revenue growth as acquisition costs continue to shoot higher and higher.
Allbirds, Warby Parker, and other DTC giants grew through ad spend at a time when that made sense. But the next generation of ecommerce leaders will grow through best-in-class customer experience, driving increased customer retention, upselling, and referrals.
We want to make this future of ecommerce more tactical. So we interviewed 25+ top ecommerce brands and analyzed data from 10,000+ merchants who use Gorgias. Below, we share our refined philosophy around the future of customer experience and a playbook of 18 tactics to drive revenue by up to 44% through CX.
Our philosophy: happy customers are the best fuel for growth
Our philosophy rests on a simple premise: Happy customers are the best fuel for growth.
Happy customers don’t come from good intentions or even great products. To cultivate happy customers — and turn that happiness into revenue — brands must shift their mindset and investments toward customer experience. Based on our interviews and analysis, here are six key lessons about the undeniable connection between your customers and your revenue growth.
1) Customer feedback is your greatest resource for shaping your brand's product and CX
Customer feedback is an invaluable source of information for your brand. Your customers are telling you how to win (and keep) their business. Don't wait idly for this feedback, though. When customers reach out to customer service or leave a complaint on Facebook, they may have already decided to shop elsewhere. Instead, proactively seek customer feedback before they think to share it with you.
You can collect customer feedback through standalone initiatives like surveys, customer interviews, product reviews, net promoter score (NPS), and satisfaction score (CSAT). However, you already have a team that speaks directly to your customers and regularly receives customer feedback: customer support.
Your agents should constantly solicit, collect, and report feedback. They should tag customer support tickets containing customer feedback to share insights with product, engineering, and other teams — teams that can address the root cause of customer problems. (Likewise, those teams should set aside time to study tickets that contain customer feedback.)
An example: Woxer, a retailer for women’s boxer shorts, saw a sudden 10% drop in monthly subscriptions. Thanks to customer support tickets, they realized the cause of the problem within a few days: customers couldn’t update their credit cards on their website. The company fixed the issue almost immediately once the insight surfaced from the customer support team.
Our interviews and analysis confirmed that top brands treat customer feedback as a priority — even a KPI — for their customer service teams:
- They measure % of orders that include a piece of feedback (on top of CSAT and NPS)
- They match feedback with specific SKUs to pass the feedback to the product team
- They collect feedback in every channel, obsessively: Woxer, for example, pulls customer feedback from Yotpo, Instagram comments, and live chat to regularly review and improve
- They reach out to customers proactively for feedback: Jaxxon, another merchant that sells men’s chains and bracelets, asks agents to reach out to every customer who returns a product for feedback
2) Your brand differentiator is what you stand for (and your products and CX should convey that brand)
Company values used to be an afterthought, but now they’re a primary buying factor. Before, customers shopped online to buy items they couldn’t find in person. You tried to tell them your story, but they weren’t really listening. Today, your values matter to your customers. 82% of shoppers want a brand's values to align with theirs, according to a 2022 Harris poll. They pay attention when you discuss you values and mission, compare you to other brands, and remain loyal to brands with similar values to their own.
For example, carbon-neutral shipping or ethical practices are important enough to some shoppers to determine brand loyalty.
Be sure that your product and your customer experience align with your values. Specifically, publicize information about your supply chain and product materials on your website. Also, share positive interactions with customers, the process you use to deliver products to customers, and any other purchasing policies (like returns and repairs). If this information reflects strong company values, it will draw in new and loyal customers.
3) Long-term value comes from repeat customers
Repeat customers generate 300% more revenue than first-time customers, according to our analysis of merchants who use Gorgias. The average online apparel shopper isn't profitable until they make four purchases. And once they shop again, they shop a lot: Gorgias customer data shows that repeat customers account for only 21% of customers, but generate 44% of revenue and 46% of orders. Repeat customers should not be an afterthought. They’re revenue drivers. They’re your priority.
On top of that, acquiring new customers is unusually challenging because ad costs have reached an all-time high. To build a sustainable business model, merchants need to focus more on repeat customers. We estimate that by increasing your repeat customer base by 20%, you could increase your revenue up to 6%. Small changes, great impact.
Leading brands have already shifted their focus away from customer acquisition and toward customer retention. For example, Dr. Squatch, a natural men's personal care brand, created a team focused on retention throughout the customer journey, composed of marketing, web development, and support team members. They handle projects like communicating unexpected delays, celebrating subscription anniversaries, and identifying cross-selling opportunities.
4) Every customer conversation is an opportunity to drive revenue
Your agents influence revenue in either direction more than you realize. You probably don’t measure the impact of your agents on sales and don’t incentivize them to sell. But since agents impact sales whether or not you want them to, you might as well measure and reward them like salespeople. Because they are at least part-time salespeople.
To make this happen, create an environment where your customer support goals align with revenue generation. You’re in luck, because customers who ask questions on your site are 30% more likely to make a purchase. In other words, customers on the precipice of a purchase are already talking to your support agents.
At some leading brands, the customer support team reports to the revenue team. We think this is a step in the right direction. Just like you might give salespeople commission bonuses, you should incentivize your agents to upsell and cross-sell by rewarding them with bonuses or gift cards based on their achievements.
Don’t just leave upselling and cross-selling for individual agents to figure out, either. Identify the most impactful ways customer support can impact revenue for your brand and train them accordingly. For example:
- Enable live chat and proactively engage with customers who have a best-selling product in their carts
- Embed agents' signatures with dynamic product recommendations based on the customers' previous product searches
- Encourage agents to engage with your customers on social media and share discount codes
- Instead of incentivizing closed tickets, make satisfaction score (CSAT) the top priority for agents (through OKRs and rewards): Jaxxon gives its support agents Amazon or PayPal gift cards for strong performance
One Gorgias customer, an apparel brand, re-designed their customer service department to incentivize revenue generation by:
- Nesting their customer support team under their sales organization
- Setting up personal tracking for each agent to track their sales performance
- Training each sales agent on best practices for closing sales, especially among repeat shoppers
This program didn’t just generate more revenue for the company. It was a huge hit among customer support agents, encouraging them to stay with the company for years longer than average customer support retention rates.
We encourage brands to follow suit. Incentivize support agents to sell, and they will.
5) You need to drive value at every part of the customer journey to maximize revenue growth
Customers don’t remember one-off, transactional interactions. What matters to your customers is the whole journey with your brand. They remember stories about your brand and how you treat your customers. And your customers' impression of you multiplies by the number of touch points you share.
The most important element of the customer journey is, of course, receiving a quality product the shopper loves. But a quality product isn't enough. A quality product delivered with a seamless experience is the baseline of a great customer journey.
- To create awareness about your brand, partner closely with your brand promoters and customer communities because they are the best success storytellers to convert your non-aware customers
- To better convert new customers on your website, start a live chat with your visitor to address concerns, act on feedback from happy (and unhappy) customers, and put social proof (like reviews) on your product pages
- To keep customers from leaving, respond fast to your customers when they experience issues: remember, your customer service is the most direct reflection of your brand's values and character
- All along the customer journey, make your customers feel special and delighted, especially on birthdays, subscription anniversaries, and when they join your community
If your journey doesn’t yet meet some of your customers’ expectations, don’t give up. A disappointed customer is not a lost cause: you still can convert your detractors into promoters. Reach out to your customers who have left you a bad review or satisfaction score, identify what didn’t go well, and be clear about the steps you'll take to rectify the issue, whether that's a long-term product improvement or a quick-fix refund. Show your customers that you want them to stay.
6) Everyone in your company should be obsessed with improving the product and the customer experience
We all know that your team makes your business successful — full stop.You should hire people who care about what your brand does. The best employees don’t just stick to their own daily tasks, they see beyond their scope and proactively help move the business forward. They don’t only report to their managers, they also assist other teams because they care more about impact than following directions.
Try and make your team obsessed with your product and customer experience, no matter their role. These are the two major components of your brand and customer perception. They're make-or-break.