A positive eCommerce customer experience is more important and powerful for your business’ success than ever before.
The world of eCommerce is increasingly competitive. Each day, people start their own eCommerce business with the same goals and dreams you have for yours. As such, it’s no surprise it’s harder than ever to stand out as an eCommerce business…especially without killer content marketing, SEO strategies, and yes—customer service.
In other blogs, we’ve focused heavily on the importance of digital marketing and SEO for eCommerce businesses. But today, we’re going in a slightly different direction. So, buckle up and prepare to learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about improving the eCommerce customer experience (CX).
Why the eCommerce Customer Experience is More Important than Ever
It will probably come as no surprise to you that good customer service is integral to business success. After all, you’re a customer yourself on a regular basis. And one of the challenging things for many business owners is that a negative customer service experience is a lot more memorable than a positive one in many cases.
So, if your customers don’t have a positive experience with your eCommerce business, this impression will likely be a lasting one. Not to mention, in an incredibly competitive market, they won’t have to go far to find a better CX somewhere else.
CX will always be important—but when you’re trying to make your business as successful as possible and stand out from the competition, the eCommerce customer experience could make or break your results.
Of course, a great offering, fair pricing, and similar factors play a role too. But ultimately, what separates one business from another comes down to how successfully they pull off the customer experience.
SuperOffice says it well: “Customers no longer base their loyalty on price or product. Instead, they stay loyal to companies due to the experience they receive. If you cannot keep up with their increasing demands, your customers will leave you.”
Now, let’s get into exactly what we mean by the eCommerce CX.
What is the eCommerce customer experience?
The CX refers to every interaction and touchpoint your customer has with your business. This includes physical and digital touchpoints.
To name a few:
- Their experience on your website (is it organized, easy to navigate, fast?)
- The ability to find what they’re looking for
- Their interaction with your customer service team
- Their satisfaction with the product or service they receive
- The follow up or support they receive (if necessary) after receiving the product or service
Essentially, every step of your customer’s journey—from when they first interact with your eCommerce business until they have received their product or service as well as any follow-up or support.
Before we explore this topic any further, it’s time to make an important distinction: what is the difference between eCommerce customer experience and eCommerce customer service?
As it turns out, there’s a big one! Or, a few.
eCommerce customer experience versus customer service
Here’s how ZenDesk breaks it down: “Customer service is just one part of the entire customer journey, while customer experience encompasses all the interactions between your brand and a customer.”
Further, they offer three more ways customer experiences distinguishes itself from customer service:
- “Level of control
Your company has complete control over the service it provides to customers. Though you can also shape the CX, your control is more limited because there are so many factors that impact how your customers perceive your brand.
Customer satisfaction score (CSAT), customer effort score (CES), and Net Promoter Score (NPS) help support teams gauge the quality of their customer service. These metrics can also reflect CX, but there are even more metrics teams can use—including customer lifetime value (CLV), customer churn rate, and customer retention rate—to evaluate the customer experience.
Customer service is primarily the responsibility of customer support managers and agents. Other team members may speak with customers, but the support team is accountable for delivering the help customers need (and doing it well).
CX is a shared responsibility across the organization. Everyone in the business—from the marketing team to the sales team to the product team—is in charge of giving customers the best experience across all touch points.”
How To Improve eCommerce Customer Experience
With these definitions, distinctions, and explanations out of the way, it’s time to get into the actionable steps of improving the eCommerce customer experience for your business.
Understand your customers
First things first: to improve the CX, you first need to know what it is your customers want! There are, of course, some general characteristics of a positive CX. But to take yours to the next level, it’s important to get crystal clear about who your customers are and what they want.
One way to do this is to understand their pain points. Maybe, until now, they’ve struggled to navigate similar sites with ease. Or simply haven’t been able to find what they’re looking for.
But their pain points are just one thing you need to know about your customers! Get to know them on several levels, including their unique demographics, and you can begin to cater not only a better eCommerce customer experience to them, but you can also use this information to target your marketing efforts.
Use the right tech
Another way to set yourself apart from your competitors when it comes to the customer experience is with your use of tech. Today, more businesses are implementing advanced technology into their website and platform, including virtual reality or VR.
Make sure your platform and website are very user-friendly
One of the most important elements of customer experience for any business is the experience they have with your website and platform. As an eCommerce business, this is often your first (and only) chance to make a positive impression.
For starters, this means making sure your website is user-friendly.
As for what it means to be user-friendly? Here’s a handy definition:
“In web design, user-friendly is about making it easy for visitors to find the information they need quickly and easily on any device.”
To do so, means considering every element of your customer’s experience as they interact with your site and platform.
- Your site speed (this is also important for SEO and your SERP rankings)
- Making your site easy to navigate (included clearly labeled headers)
- Ensuring text and images load quickly and fonts (size and color) is easy to read
And of course, in 2021 and beyond, ensuring your eCommerce mobile platform capabilities are top-notch is more important than ever. Why is that? Well, the truth is more of your customers will be interacting with your platform and content on a mobile device than on a desktop.
So, you need to meet them where they are and place a special focus on ensuring your content and platform is mobile-friendly.
Track your success
It’s also important to track the success of your eCommerce customer experience efforts over time. There are several metrics indicative of how successful these efforts will be.
For example, you can pay attention to your bounce rate and site loading time to begin with. And of course, when your sales go up or down, the quality of CXs your business is delivering will also play a part.
When you make improvements to your eCommerce customer experience (or just in general) pay attention to your eCommerce success metrics.
They include things like:
- Average Order Value (AOV)
- Onsite Activity Metrics
- Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
- Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate
- Email Marketing Metrics
- Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
- Customer Retention Rate (CRR)
- Net Promoter Score (NPS)
- Conversion Rate (CR)
Ask for feedback
Naturally, your eCommerce success metrics tell you a lot about how well your eCommerce business is doing. But another success metric that’s just as powerful is the feedback your customers offer! You’re likely to get feedback from customers when their experience is less than positive. Often, this feedback is in the form of a complaint more than anything else. These complaints or any negative feedback are important to take action on as soon as possible.
But we also encourage you to actively seek feedback, rather than waiting for something to go wrong before your customers speak up. A great way to do this is by asking your customers to complete a survey once they make a purchase. You can include a link to a poll in their confirmation email, for example. Or, you can send out a poll to all of your existing email subscribers. Alternatively, you can embed a poll onto your website that visitors can complete at their leisure.
You can quickly determine your customers’ satisfaction with their experience by conducting a simple Likert scale survey asking them to choose from these options:
- Very unsatisfied
- Very satisfied
To encourage your customers to offer their feedback, there are several incentives you have at your disposal. It could be something as simple as offering a $5 off coupon if they successfully complete your feedback request.
Then, you can take the feedback you collect and use it to drive further improvements at your business. At the same time, it’s helpful for pointing out any red flags or issues that need to be addressed before they get worse.
Another part of your eCommerce customer experience you can’t afford to overlook is shipping. For example, did you know about 75% of consumers expect free shipping when they shop online? So, if you’re not delivering this, you’re letting down (chances are) a large majority of your customers.
Consider these stats from eDesk:
“Although 85% of US consumers prefer free shipping over fast shipping, expectations in terms of free delivery times have also soared. 87% of the shoppers who prefer free shipping also expect delivery within seven days, according to a Deloitte survey from late 2019.”
So, in a perfect world, you would offer both fast and free shipping. This would certainly set you apart from your competitors. But if you have to choose between the two, free is the way to go.
(Don’t forget to make sure the check-out process is a breeze too! Here’s a post with 20 tips for doing just that: 20 Tips on Ecommerce How to Improve Checkout Process Flow)
You’ll remember we pointed out that customer experience and customer service are two different things. However, customer service is part of the customer experience, so it’s important to make sure it’s excellent.
A great place to start is with 24/7 customer service and support available for your customers. For very small businesses, this isn’t always possible. But fast and effective customer service will help insure any customer frustrations or challenges result in you losing their business. In addition to email support, another option worth exploring is implementing a live chat function on your site where customers can reach someone at all times.
This also means keeping a close eye on your social media platforms. These are often the first place people reach out to make their complaints or concerns known. If you don’t address them quickly (and effectively) one small Tweet can start a wildfire.
Focus your customer service efforts on meeting your customers’ needs in a friendly, positive, fast, and efficient way, and this will pay off in spades when it comes to the overall eCommerce customer experience.
Go above and beyond whenever possible
We mentioned how it’s a great idea to offer fast and free shipping if possible. This is one example of going above and beyond that can help set your eCommerce customer experience offering apart from others. But this isn’t your only option for doing so! We encourage you to go above and beyond for your customers in any way you can.
For an eCommerce business, it might be tough to connect with customers the same way if you aren’t interacting with them face to face as you would at a brick-and-mortar shop. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. This is where doing things like offering customer loyalty discounts can make a big difference. Further, it’s helpful to utilize your social media platforms and your about page to establish a closer connection with customers.
Did you learn a lot about improving the eCommerce customer experience in this post?
Here are three more posts to help you explore the topic even further: