Customer experience can make or break today’s businesses. In our previous articles, we talked about it at length. We discovered what customer experience is, we established what lies behind customer behavior and why customer experience management is vital to businesses everywhere. Next, we talked about strategy: having a customer-centric approach, building personalized interactions with our customers at every touchpoint, understanding pain points and getting them out of the way.
Once all that is clear, it’s time to move on to the next big issues: how to improve customer experience. Creating a great customer experience is the cornerstone of customer satisfaction, great brand image and good publicity. But first- a quick recap.
What is customer experience?
Customer experience, also known as CX, is your customers’ entire perception of their experience with your business or brand, both pre- and post-sale. Navigating the website, inspecting products and services, talking to customer support representatives, filling out the contact forms, placing an order, writing reviews- they are all part of the process. Even the design of the products and packaging are part of the CX.
Any brand or business uses a mix of traditional, offline, customer experience and digital customer experience elements. Creating a great customer experience is a holistic process, taking into account everything that has to do with people who buy from you, from their buyer behavior to psychographics and the highlights of their day-to-day life.
More than anything, customer experience lays the foundation of the future expectations customers may develop in relation to a specific brand or business. Personalization and designing with a human focus are essential parts of seamless, positive customer experiences. What is more, CX is one of the main elements that turn leads into customers and customers into life-long partners and brand advocates.
Some useful CX insights
In this year’s digital trends report, Adobe and Econsultancy discovered that big, successful companies are committed to data-driven marketing that focuses on the individual. Customer journey management is a top priority, with the aim of delivering real-time personalized experiences. Forbes magazine goes as far as proclaiming that customer experience is the new brand.
When it comes to consumers and their preferences, it has been shown that they value good service over speed. Moreover, they are willing to pay more for a product or service if that means a more personalized experience, tailored to them and their preferences. They prefer brands that tell stories and businesses that are thriving these days take them into account as the main resource for innovation.
In the light of these findings, what can we do to enhance customer experience?
Customer experience optimization in eCommerce
- Focus on specific customer needs when you design online experiences
People are looking for you even outside of your business hours. When they are online, they expect different benefits, like round-the-clock interactions and customer support. Artificial intelligence can be of great help in this case. Chatbots help you stay in touch with your customers even when there’s no real person around to handle their issues. They can guide a user through the website, depending on the stage of their journey as buyers.
They can help customers discover more easily the relevant information they’re after. They can deal with any query immediately, while also projecting the right kind of image. Just make sure that they are more helpful than distracting. Annoying chatbots can do more harm than good if they are not well calibrated to the user’s behavior.
Make sure that the site map is clear so that users can easily find what they are looking for. Highlight the products that are relevant to a specific customer based on their purchase history. Research shows that 68% of eCommerce revenue comes from personalized product recommendations, accompanied by messages like “people who viewed/bought this product are also interested in…”. It is not just a cross-selling technique, it also helps customers get more out of what you’re offering.
You can also use various types of segmentation to deliver better personalized experiences. Segmenting users by interest allows you to show highlight the product categories they are most interested in. Adapt the design of the webpage based on category. Maybe even consider adding category-specific discount coupons. Product-specific messaging appeals to many customers and it’s a great way to stay in touch with them and their preferences. Geo-location targeting helps you offer personalized offers and discounts to different groups of users based on their location. You can also use it to keep them informed about shipping availability to their location.
Clothing and jewelry companies also use style finders to adapt the content of the website to the users’ preferences. This involves asking them what they are interested in from the very beginning. For example, they might be looking for either casual clothes, fancy dresses, sportswear or smart outfits. Knowing what they are after helps you deliver the experience that is best suited to their needs. No need to browse a thousand categories for the right pair of trousers, they’re now only a few clicks away.
- Keep it relevant to your customers
This means no irrelevant landing pages, a seamless checkout process and targeted ads that are particularly relevant to your field or activity. Provide them with relevant information about your products and services at the right time. Make sure not to add unnecessary steps in their navigating process. And make your website as mobile-friendly as possible.
Remember that most of the online users are searching for information related to the products they want to buy from a mobile device, such as smartphones and tablets. 57% of consumers won’t recommend a website with a poorly designed mobile experience. For the same reason, 50% of them will stop visiting the site altogether, even if they like the business.
Yves Rocher, for instance, nailed the digital customer experience. Besides an easy and quick experience on the website, they leverage social media to educate their customers. From product tutorials and make-up tips to lovely online catalogs and engaging elements enriching the experience during teasing and commercial campaigns- they have it all figured out.
- Develop strategies to reward fidelity
Sephora is a great example. Their Beauty Insider rewards program gathered over 17 million loyal customers and its members make up as much as 80% of the brand’s annual sales. Each order they place offers them fidelity points they can later translate into popular products of their choice. There is a catalog available, where the products’ value takes the form of loyalty points, rather than the normal price. One of the main issues when it comes to Sephora is the price- their products are nothing but expensive. This loyalty program helps offset the purchase prices without actually devaluing the product. Win-win.
Amazon Prime is yet another success story. Within the retail industry, where prices are more or less the same, innovative loyalty programs can become a strong differentiator and offer your company a great competitive advantage. For an annual fee, Prime members have access to a lot of extras, such as free two-day shipping for millions of products, to the Amazon streaming service, as well as to the Prime Day sales. This kind of exclusivity works wonders on their “fan base”: Prime members spend on average four times more money than average Amazon customers.
- Improve customer experience through gamification
Gamification is a very effective way to keep your customers hooked onto your brand and to acquire loyalty. It means keeping them busy with small, interesting tasks that give them a sense of achievement, much like any game you can think of. The result: more engaged customers, that complete more and more steps towards a specific end-goal. This kind of interaction helps you stay top of mind, it’s fun and can be used regardless of industry.
A few examples include McDonald’s Monopoly game, American Express and their Twitter program, as well as Chanel’s Coco Chanel game. Such an experience not only leaves customers pleasantly surprised but they also drive sales: another win-win situation.
Creating a great experience through product development and design
- Get creative with packaging
Keep things interesting through innovative design. Socks Place does it brilliantly. They offer funny, colorful socks, while also playing around with their packaging. Pizza socks come in pizza boxes, sushi socks come folded as if they were real sushi, donut socks come in donut boxes and so on. They even offer socks in jars, packaged as pickle or jam jars.
- Spice up the product design
Here’s a list of crazy and cool product design ideas, ranging from puzzle sugar cubes to parmesan pencils and tea hangers Form is just as important as the content. And the design is particularly relevant in a world in which we have a dozen types of everything.
Enhance customer experience through the quality of the augmented product
- White papers, e-books and other useful resources
It doesn’t always have to be a fancy giveaway. Sometimes all it takes is some free resources taken directly from your website or your experience. This applies mostly to services, as people find it easier to assess their quality through this small glimpse into your mission, vision, value, and approach. If you offer valuable information they cannot get elsewhere, they are more likely to turn to you when it comes to the final decision. Customers appreciate this kind of effort from the brands they trust. Moreover, they are craving quality content, in all shapes and forms.
- Add a little something extra
It can be an extended warranty for a product you’re selling, a small bonus at the end of a purchase, lifetime access to your library if the customer purchases an online course from you… The possibilities are endless. It shows that you really care and that you pay close attention to their wants and needs.
In Romania, for example, McCafé baristas offer you a piece of candy for each product you buy. It may not seem like much but it can brighten someone’s day and that’s all that matters. Other companies throw in some extra goodies in the package when they ship your order. Book shops offer personalized bookmarks, sneaker shops offer a few stickers, handmade accessory shops offer handwritten thank you notes. It’s something they don’t expect, a pleasant surprise which will keep them coming in the future.
- Personalize your communication as much as possible
Emails at the end of the purchase, carefully crafted newsletters and replying to comments on your social media posts show that you really value your customers. Everything that makes them feel unique in the eye of the company will be good for your business in the long run. In the age of sociability, people crave genuine personal connections and unique communication from brands. Make the experience seem less automated by focusing on high quality written content. You can collaborate with content writing agencies or keep the whole process in-house, by hiring a content writer of your own.
Customer experience plays a crucial role in today’s business landscape. It can help you differentiate and innovate but, above all, it lets people know that they are your number one priority. Creating a great customer experience is the last and most important part of any business strategy. It encapsulates your mission, vision and brand value in a way that speaks to your consumers more than anything else.
Do your research, get to know your customers, develop buyer personas, empathy maps and customer journey maps. After you do it all, align them with your business goals and objectives. Never forget what marketing is all about: creating and delivering value to your customers, as Philip Kotler expertly said. Then focus on the main function of a brand: the reason to choose.
Satisfied customers leave positive reviews, come back to you anytime they have the chance and recommend your business to other friends. Keep it consistent, simple, intuitive and personalized and the results will exceed your expectations. We hope that these nine tips on how to enhance customer experience will spark up your imagination and motivate you to strive for more and do better things for your clients.