Even as the dust settles on Black Friday, stores don't have much room to breathe - Christmas is just around the corner, and whilst sales might drop off briefly once Cyber Monday subsides, there's still tons of shopping to be done for the holiday season.
And there's no rest for the wicked! Tons of new traffic will have come through your store over the last week or so, and your job is to keep those new customers coming back. It makes sense, really; increased customer satisfaction equals increased conversion rates, and to do that, you need to make sure that your customer experience is perfect across the board.
We've broken down what is factored into the eCommerce customer experience and how best you can measure your performance and perception of your brand, so you can make your store's experience as perfect as possible and nurture as many positive relationships with old and new customers as possible.
What is the eCommerce customer experience?
What exactly is the eCommerce customer experience? In short, it's all of the interactions that a customer has with your store. It includes everything from the moment they first hear about your store, to the time they leave your website, to the point where they're opening a box or bag of your products at home.
Although it covers almost everything, here are a few broad areas to focus on to make sure different touchpoints are as smooth as possible for your customers.
1. Customer Service:
Maybe it goes without saying, but having a customer support team dedicated to assisting customers throughout their purchase is key to making sure your customer experience is smooth, and customer loyalty hinges on it pretty heavily. An overwhelming 96% of consumers say their brand loyalty often hinges on a brand's customer service efforts, so ensuring your customer support team is robust and briefed to help resolve any queries is essential.
2. Website Layout and Performance:
Everything about your website needs to be smooth, slick, and on-brand. Speed is a huge factor in a customer's perception of your brand. 47% of online shoppers expect your store to load in 2 seconds or less, and that figure jumps up to 64% for mobile users browsing your site on a smartphone. For more on this, check out our eCommerce guide for the holiday season.
It's not just about speed though - an innovative and attractive storefront can be equally important in forming an impression. Clear stylish graphics and on-brand copy for product descriptions will help establish your value proposition to your customers, and show them exactly what you're about.
3. Easy Shipping and Returns:
You can minimize customer frustration by ensuring that they are up to date with any and all tracking information for their order. eCommerce stores have the added advantage of global reach, so customers may be expecting their purchase to arrive sooner than it does. Make sure to set realistic shipping expectations on your website, and include information about your return policy prominently.
Likewise, making returns as smooth as possible, such as including a sticker with returns shipping info and a wealth of options to drop off returns, will limit their frustration and increase the chance that they order again for something that they prefer.
How can I measure eCommerce customer experience?
Guessing simply isn't enough when it comes to the customer experience - you need to learn first hand from your customers what you're doing wrong, and what you're doing right. Here are a few ways you can attempt to measure customer satisfaction and learn where you can improve, from the people who matter most.
Customer satisfaction surveys
There are plenty of ways you can measure your customer satisfaction directly, including but not limited to:
- On-site tools, such as Klaviyo, can not only increase your personalization efforts but can also record users' responses to certain areas or pages of your store. This can help you locate specific customer pain points on different areas of your site, and optimize the areas that people are struggling with the most.
- Intercom's chatbot allows you to rate your experience with the member of support staff who answers your query. Exemplary answers could be shared or included in the onboarding process for your support staff, showing them exactly what good customer service looks like!
- Sometimes, straight-up asking works too! Automatic or manual follow-up emails can be scheduled a specific amount of time after an order is due to arrive, asking how the customer found their order. You could even include a handwritten review request in the box with their order!
Equally, there are more subtle ways of tracking your customer data. HootSuite allows you to 'listen' to your customers' feedback across various social media channels. In a day and age where social media is a huge part of people's day-to-day lives, what people learn about your brand on social media matters.
If you can understand those pain points and address them, you should see a sharp uptake in the perception of your brand across your social media channels.
How can I improve my eCommerce customer experience?
1. Customer Service
Having a combination of ways to tackle customer service can really help - different people like to engage with support via different channels, so making every option as accessible as possible is key. These different methods of engagement could contain the following:
- Chatbots are a great way to automatically respond to customers as they share their questions, saving your customer support team time. Sometimes, though, chatbots can't answer all of their questions - and some people just don't like talking to robots! An easy transition from using a chatbot to a live chat with a customer support team representative will make sure any frustration if a chatbot is unable to assist is quickly quelled and the query is answered by one of your team.
- Well-signposted support that your customers can read through is also useful, starting with FAQs that customers can read through to minimize the need for support staff to assist. If your offering or products are more diverse or complex, it may be worth having more in-depth support documentation that customers can read for themselves, or support staff can link them to. Consider linking these in your navbar and at the bottom of the page, so they're always in reach for customers who need them.
- An accessible support email address and telephone line are also worth having. Customers are increasingly keen on more immediate ways to alleviate their concerns or find answers, but others will prefer more traditional methods. Again, even if it's not for everyone, having as many options as possible means you're giving the full range of your customers their preferred method of accessing support.
Whilst that personalization can help improve your customer experience efforts, it's often not stressed just how important it is. Evergage's 2020 Trends in Personalization reports that 97% of marketers reported a measurable lift from incorporating personalization into their marketing efforts, up 7% from last year.
This is likely at least partially down to the impact of Covid - with people having spent long periods isolated from friends and family, an unexpected personal touch has more impact than ever. But that of course isn't the only reason why personalization is important. There are plenty of other reasons why it makes sense to improve the customer experience by focusing on personalization. So what can you do to increase your personalization efforts?
- It's one thing to add the customer's first name at the top of a marketing email, but there's much more you can do to personalize your marketing. Making suggestions or providing offers based on previous purchases and browsing history helps tailor the experience to a specific customer, increasing the chances of conversion and streamlining their experience by putting relevant products front and center.
- Using smart chatbots or chat flows can also add a personal touch - consider setting up a chatbot to pop up to returning customers asking them about their most recent purchase. It's a prime opportunity to re-engage; if they're happy, suggest similar products to the one they enjoyed, and if they aren't fully satisfied it's an opportunity to salvage the relationship. This is a great way to turn even potential negative experiences into an opportunity to win back customers, by focusing specifically on their recent experience.
- Keeping in touch with a customer throughout the customer journey is a further opportunity to personalize the experience. When a customer's order is confirmed, it's easy to switch off and think 'job done'. The window between order confirmation and the product arriving is a great time to enrich the customer experience, though. Sending them an email before it arrives is often unexpected and is a great chance to share tips and advice relevant to the specific product they've purchased. You could share information on similar purchases made by customers who bought the same product, or simply express gratitude at the purchase and promise to keep them in the loop with shipping updates until their order arrives.
- The unboxing experience is your golden opportunity to make an impression. We've written an entire guide on how to make the unboxing experience feel more special, but we'll condense it here. Sending an email is one thing, but adding a handwritten note in with an order is more unexpected and adds a personal touch that goes further than an email. Talking about the specifics of the purchase, such as why you love it and hope they do too, can help establish a personal relationship between you and the customer.
- Handwritten notes don't just have to be in the box either - you could send some snail mail to tee up the purchase, perhaps replacing a marketing email to surprise and delight your customers. We hear you, handwritten marketing can be time-consuming and a logistical nightmare - but it doesn't have to be! At Scribeless can help you automate everything, no matter if it's direct mail or in the box. If you're interested in learning more, book a call with one of the team.
3. A unified, cross-platform content strategy
Whenever you have exciting news and offers to share with your customers, you want to make sure it's actually reaching them. Clear channels of communication are key to ensuring a healthier relationship between you and your customer and improving the customer experience - not to mention improving brand awareness and your SEO. Some tips for having a consistent content strategy include:
- Make sure all relevant information and updates are available across all channels - your main site, your social media accounts, any ads you place and any email marketing or newsletters too. You may not even be using all of these channels - and it's definitely worth working out which ones work for you.
- Keep your tone consistent with your website too - speak to your customers as they want to be spoken to. If your brand identity is upbeat and playful, then your communication should be too! Consider implementing a style guide, so any content produced for your brand can be held up to the guidelines. This can also help with things such as colors, fonts and general design.
- Try and strike a balance between informative and educational content, vs. more interesting, shareable pieces. Whilst the tone of your content should stay consistent, that doesn't mean the actual content itself has to! On social media, you likely want to create pieces that have the potential to go viral and get retweets and clicks. If you have an onsite blog, however, this may be somewhere to go more in-depth - customers reaching this portion of your site are likely to want to consume longer-form content.
Finally...learn from the best!
You aren't the only store out there striving for the best possible customer experience - so why not learn from the guys that are already smashing it? We've compiled a guide to how some of Shopify's most successful stores are tailoring their experiences to not just satisfy their customers but to surprise and delight them beyond what's expected.
By following their lead (and our tips) you'll be well on your way to ensuring your new Black Friday customers are fully satisfied and ready to come back for more.