When you visit a brick-and-mortar store, there’s more to it than just the product you buy. Whether it’s how the store looks, how helpful the staff are, or even how the products are packaged, all the details add to your overall perception of that brand. The same applies to ecommerce stores - everything that surrounds your products from your site to your checkout all contribute to how a customer is going to feel about your brand.
Customer experience is one of the most important aspects of your store. With competitors just a few clicks away, it’s vital to do everything you can to edge out the competition and deliver an exceptional, memorable experience for your customers.
What is Customer Experience (CX)?
Customer experience encompasses everything a customer interacts with and how this shapes their perception of your store and brand. This factors into each stage of the customer journey, from discovery all the way through post-purchase. In fact, it can be helpful to think of CX in the context of that journey. By looking through each touch point, you can identify friction and ways to improve these very specific elements of your store.
Each of these touch points has the potential to make or break the customer experience. For example, a customer may be blown away by your product but they found your checkout process too lengthy and complicated. That touch point at checkout may mean they look elsewhere for a similar product from a store with a much better checkout process. Perhaps your customer support was helpful and really impressed, but the customer was underwhelmed by the delivery and unboxing experience. They then may consider other brands which have a better reputation for those elements.
By looking at your store beyond its products, you can craft and design a customer experience that delights customers from start to finish. They'll come to your store not just for your products, but for the quality of the experience they know they'll get.
Why CX is important
In ecommerce, as many as 44% of businesses focus on acquisition whereas only 18% focus on retention. This is despite the fact that retention is by far the more valuable of the two, with just a 5% lift in retention resulting in a 25% profit increase.
The best way to retain customers is to provide them with an excellent customer experience. As many as 73% of customers say that a good experience is key to influencing their brand loyalties. Moreover, 87% of customers who have a good experience say they’d purchase again, compared to only 18% who have a poor experience. The more you can do throughout that customer experience to make it easy, straightforward, and engaging, you’ll start to see the effects on your retention rates. Acquiring new customers is great, but building the Lifetime Value of your loyal customers by giving them a great experience time and again will see your retention rates climb higher and reduce churn.
Beyond Lifetime Value (LTV), those loyal customers are also one of your strongest assets in your acquisition strategy. Customers who have that repeated great experience with your brand will be more likely to leave reviews. These are powerful in giving new customers the push they need to purchase - 93% of customers say that reviews influence their decisions. Those new customers will then go through that excellent experience themselves, and in turn become loyal customers in their own right.
How to design a great customer experience
Designing an experience doesn’t need to be complicated - all it takes is to truly consider and understand what your customers want and need throughout their journey. Here are some simple steps you can take to design a truly memorable, customer-led experience:
Map the journey and remove friction
First thing’s first - you need to understand what your customer journey actually looks like. Journey mapping will allow you to see what your customers go through from discovery through to checkout and beyond. You’ll be able to highlight any areas where you perhaps see a drop in conversions, and dig deeper to understand what may cause this. These friction points can then be resolved and improved, leading to a better experience.
Think speed, think convenience
Two of the primary benefits of ecommerce are the speed at which purchases can be made, and how convenient it is. From the comfort of your own home, you can order almost anything you could buy from a brick-and-mortar store. That’s why you should make speed a priority - you want the customer to be able to get the checkout as quickly and easily as possible. Cutting down required forms, adding in quick checkout options, and including a guest checkout are three easy ways you can make immediate and significant improvements to experience. On the convenience front, think about how your customers use your products. Could bundles or subscriptions be of benefit?
Deliver excellent customer support
When a customer has a question, how easy is it for them to get an answer? Customer support has a big impact on experience - 96% of customers say support factors into their brand loyalties, and 56% have stopped doing business with a brand because of a poor support experience. Assess what customer support options you have available for customers such as FAQs and live chat, and how easy these are to access and use. Analyze your support team’s time to resolution, along with customer satisfaction to determine where you need to improve.
Given their value to your store and revenue, it’s important to engage your loyal customers and show appreciation. If you haven’t already done so, it’s worth developing a loyalty program so that customers feel incentivized and appreciated to continue shopping with your brand. You can also use email automation along with store data to send perks based on the number of orders a customer has placed, their LTV or AOV, or the products they order frequently. This can also help to recover lapsed customers who previously ordered frequently.
Have a post-purchase strategy
The customer experience doesn’t simply end when the customer clicks “Checkout”. There are still many touch points to consider that will have a lasting effect on a customer’s perception of your brand. Review what the post-purchase experience looks like and highlight any areas where you could do more to enhance it. For example adding branded packaging, offering real-time tracking, and a more detailed post-purchase email flow.
How to measure CX performance
Customer experience is an ongoing process, and the best way to ensure you’re doing all the right things is to measure performance on a regular basis. This will allow you to see where your store is doing well, and where you could make further improvements.
To measure performance, you should use a combination of the following:
Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)
CSAT’s are a pretty traditional way to capture the successes or failures of your customer experience. These can be as simple as asking customers to give a star rating of their experience at different touch points. For example if they reach out to customer support, then once the ticket has been closed they’re asked to rate their experience.
Gathering feedback is one of the most valuable ways to understand your customers and how they feel about your store experience. You can do this through analyzing reviews, as well as putting out survey requests to different customer segments.
There are a variety of ways to use your store data to assess customer experience. Traffic, for example, can indicate where you’re losing customers at different stages of their journey. If retention and churn rates decrease, this can be a positive sign that your CX is performing well.
What better way to understand where customers run into issues than looking at support tickets? When a customer can’t resolve an issue they’re having on their own and turn to your team for help, this can indicate that you need to make improvements. That might mean adding more detail to your FAQ or new features for your product pages.
When there are so many competitors in the market, it makes it difficult to rely solely on product and pricing to stand out. Delivering an amazing customer experience is essential; improving it will lead to happier customers and improved retention rates which will benefit your store in the long-term.