Management consultant, blog writer, dreamer
Online customer experience matters. Indeed, survival in today’s competitive e-commerce environment where the competitor is only one click away means that firms have to find ways to provide customers with a unique experience much more than low prices 1.
Undoubtedly the competition for customers is fierce in the online retail channel. Yet many of you may think it’s a strange thing to say since there’re about 1.8 billion people worldwide purchasing goods online (Statista, 2018). But there are also many online retailers.
Back in 2014 there were already more than 24 million active online stores (Internet Retailer). Sadly, only a small percentage of them does noteworthy business. So why are the majority of online retailers not doing business? One of the main reasons why these shops fail is because their customers are having bad online experiences when visiting their websites…
Nevertheless, online shopping is so popular because it offers more convenience. Furthermore, the store location is irrelevant and consumers can shop from any location, 24 h a day, seven days a week. But, just like the physical brick-and-mortar retailers, customers visiting the store want to have, apart from the shopping, a pleasant or useful experience. Indeed, online visitors may become loyal customers if they fancy the experience they get on your website.
What is Online Customer Experience?
Online customer experience is a psychological state manifested as a subjective response to the online retailer’s website 2. What does it mean? For example:
- It means that when a customer is visiting your online shop, she wants to experience the site as easy for her to use. And that’s not all…
- She also wants to experience her own space that will give her a sense of personal control.
- And she wants to communicate with fellow shoppers on your website. That’s a good thing because she will develop a sense of relationship with your business by her being able to identify with others.
So, how on earth will you get customers to become loyal patrons of your online business? You need to trigger your customer’s best emotions…
How to offer the ultimate online customer experience
By all means should you astonish your customers with the offering of extraordinary online experiences.
Tim De Paris in MarTech Advisor proposes every experience should delight, excite, and most critically, work:
- Delight – the experience is here on a personal level. By this time, you should know your customer. This is where personalization comes to the fore when your customers feel special and understood. When brands are delighting consumers, they’re meeting their expectations.
- Excite – don’t just make them happy, inspire action. After all, when consumers are excited about something, they’re more inclined to act on it, resulting in more conversions for brands.
- Function – the most important aspect as fundamentally the first two can exist, but if it doesn’t lead to a conversion, it’s ultimately a failure.
The outcome of online customer experience is the formation of a “take-away impression” that is created as a result of the contact and stored in the customer’s long-term memory 2.
What tools can you use to enhance the experience of your online customers?
Ohad Rozen in Multi-Channel Merchant highlighted six of the top innovations in customer experience that can boost a company’s bottom line:
- Personalization – people are different and so are their preferences. Therefore, adjusting the way you interact with customers can help your business to satisfy them.
- Responsive Web Design – is essential to ensure consistent customer experience. Indeed, you should present your business to your customers with the same information. It doesn’t matter where they go, be it a website, store or a call center.
- Walkthroughs – customers are developing a strong desire for self-service. Nevertheless, 83% of customers need some support when making a purchase online. Indeed, when walkthroughs are available online, customers receive the support they need and the self-service they want. As a result, customers are more satisfied with their experiences. For that reason, businesses increase sales and brand loyalty, while saving on costs.
- Social Media Integration – companies are happy to take advantage of social media’s vast, largely free, reach. In fact, people’s affinity for social media communication has naturally spread to their interaction with companies. As a result, customers particularly value being able to quickly contact a company directly. They also value the publicity and transparency that come with these interactions.
- Enhanced Visuals – when companies use high quality images with multiple views, they can yield a 58% increase in sales. Also, when your product gets delivered to your customer as they expected, that satisfaction boosts customer experience.
- Verifiable Reviews – with verifiable reviews, consumers have the opportunity to discover whether or not a product or service is trustworthy. They can do it without leaving your website.
But how do you know if your customers have a positive experience on your website?
How do you measure your customer’s online experience?
Since the online experience that your customers enjoy on your website is so important, it is critical that you measure it. Indeed, by using tracking and bench-marking customer experience metrics you can determine what and where to improve…
According to the User Testing Blog, you can use the following metrics to determine customer experience:
- Net Promoter Score – is the percentage of your customers who would – or wouldn’t -recommend your company to their friends, family, or colleagues. It’s typically measured with a customer survey that asks the customer, “How likely are you to recommend this business to a friend or colleague?”
- Customer satisfaction – is the average satisfaction score that customers rate a specific experience they had with your business – such as getting an answer from customer support or returning a product. It is measured by sending customers an automated survey asking them to rate their level of satisfaction with the interaction on a scale of “Not satisfied at all” to “Very satisfied.”
- Customer effort score – helps you determine the effort required by your customers to accomplish a task, like getting a support request handled or finding the product they were looking for. It’s typically measured by sending customers an automated post-interaction survey asking them to rate a specific statement on a defined scale.
- Customer churn rate – is the percentage of customers who don’t make a repeat purchase. Calculate this by dividing the total number of lost customers by the total number of active customers for any given period.
- First response and average handling time – is the average amount of time it takes for a customer to get an initial response to their support issue. This is measured by taking the average amount of time from when your customers first open their support tickets to the time that they receive their first response.
Good news! If you own a WordPress website, then you can use the SurveyMonkey plugin to find out more about how your customers experience your website.
This read is the final of two recent posts about your online customers. The first post “Is the Sales Funnel Relevant in Predicting Buying Behavior of Digitized Customers?” discussed how difficult it is now to predict online buying behavior. The second post, “A Customer’s Online Buying Journey in the Retail Channel” tried to explain how the online customer does her buying.
The one thing about shopping remains the same – it is an emotional experience for the customer. It’s the same whether buying takes place online or offline; or whether it’s done to solve a problem or to feel good.
Indeed, customer experience can’t be facilitated without human input. Because only humans can understand humans…
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1 Bilgihan, A., Kandampully, J. and Zhang, T. 2016. Towards a unified customer experience in online shopping environments: Antecedents and outcomes, International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences, 8(1):102-119.
2 Rose, S., Clark, M., Samouel, P. and Hair, N. 2012. Online customer experience in e-retailing: an empirical model of antecedents and outcomes. Journal of Retailing, 88(2):308-322.