From the ability to sell around the clock to anyone in the world, to freedom from the expense of brick and mortar stores, ecommerce comes with many advantages. One of the distinct downsides, however, can be the distance between brands and the customers they serve. In order to reach across the digital divide and create a real connection, we need to put the work in.
This is where customer experience comes into play. Online retailers are constantly improving their strategies here, so what are the new trends emerging in this field? How can we expect them to shape the evolution of ecommerce in the coming years? And what can we learn from them to help elevate and accelerate our ecommerce businesses?
Customer Experience – Why Does It Matter In Modern Ecommerce?
With endless online options just a click away, it’s always been important to create a sense of connection and positive interaction with our valued customers. As competition increases, so does the importance of customer experience. No experience, no engagement. No engagement, no conversion.
Add to this the accelerating effect of the pandemic on customer expectations – digital transformation has skyrocketed, and the game has been well and truly upped. Rapid customer service, improved personalization, incentivized loyalty… There are so many touch points that contribute to the customer experience we deliver, and all of these have seen significant advancement in recent years.
Ultimately, customers are won and lost on experience. A strong focus here can set you apart from competitors (who, it must be remembered, are also working hard on out-pacing you.) If you’re ready to take every opportunity you can to excel when it comes to customer experience, read on, as we outline five key areas where a focus will pay the greatest dividends.
1. Cohesive Omnichannel Branding
Omnichannel selling is the new normal. Many brands leveled up to sell seamlessly across multiple channels, but not all of them are as proactive when it comes to delivering a customer experience that is similarly consistent.
With new channels for commerce opening up all the time, from TikTok to conversational commerce via WhatsApp, the need to deliver a consistent brand experience across all channels is increasingly essential. Without a focus here, it’s impossible to convey seamless customer experience and brand relationship – customer experience suffers and interactions feel jarring. As your channels expand, so will this issue if it’s left unaddressed.
How can you win here? Concentrate on developing a recognisable tone of voice and brand personality, then ensure this shows up consistently. Yes, it’s important to ensure your web pages (and even micro-copy – think error messages, button text and checkout phrasing) are all in “brand alignment” but brand can also be proactively communicated through chatbots, programmed to welcome, instruct, help and even make sales in a manner that feels “on brand” no matter the channel.
2. A Joined Up Approach To Customer Service
As brands increase investment in their customer service, the need for this element of your business to feel truly seamless is increasing. The general movement towards a “revops” model, where all departments are interconnected and in easy, effective communication with each other (as well as with customers) is becoming more popular.
With that being said, the majority of brands are still lagging behind here. According to Gartner research, “through 2022, 50% of large organizations will have failed to unify engagement channels, resulting in a disjointed and siloed customer experience that lacks context.”
Transitioning between teams for assistance or advice should be well engineered, and data shouldn’t be underutilized as a result of poor access. All teams should be able to access customer information in order to give the very best service, without a delay or lack of personalisation.
3. Responsive, Transparent Interactions
Customers are getting more demanding when it comes to the level of information they require to feel comfortable making a purchase – and they won’t wait for answers. When it comes to great customer experience, help should be swift and effective – after all, by reaching out with questions, these customers are showing a clear interest in your brand and strong purchase intent.
The days of elevator music and recorded messages are long behind us – or they should be! 33% of customers report that having to wait on hold is the most frustrating customer experience. 33% are most frustrated by having to repeat themselves to multiple support reps (again, proof that a joined up, omnichannel approach to customer support is essential!).
Chatbot solutions such as Flow XO offer a slick way to grant customers access to easy, quick and accurate answers. While this brings a clear benefit to all businesses, if you’re courting a younger audience, it’s especially advantageous. Millennials and Gen Z have a noted preference for text-based communication, which aligns perfectly with the speedy answers that a Flow XO chatbot can provide.
4. Personalization – Balanced With Data Privacy
We can’t write about customer experience and ecommerce without touching on the importance of personalization. Technology here has advanced rapidly, and the increase in expectation of personalized customer experiences, especially within the digital realm, has risen in line with this development.
While the benefits of personalization within ecommerce are well-understood, customers are increasingly protective of their personal information, and data privacy laws are constantly tightening. As a brand, it can feel as though you’re being asked to do the impossible – deliver a personalized service to individuals who don’t want to disclose personal information.
However – when a proven benefit can be demonstrated, 76% customers are typically happy to share more personal information. As third party cookies fade away, zero and first party data will become increasingly important as sources of this information – and what better way to inform and power personalization than via questions delivered by chatbot?
5. Decisions – More Opportunity For Choice In Service
Finally, consider the increasing demand for customers to be able to customize their experience – for example, more options around delivery timing and methods. The check out experience is sacred – nothing should distract or deflect from conversion. And yet increasingly, it’s important for online brands to consider changing customer expectations here.
“Add ons” to the check out experience such as carbon offsetting, round up donations or cause marketing campaigns (which allow shoppers to pick their own cause to support) – all contribute to experience and brand perception. If this isn’t something that you’re currently offering, start to consider the various ways in which you could offer more options, choice and memorable interactions that give your customer more control of their experience.
Future Proof Your Customer Experience
Customer experience has never mattered more. When it comes to meeting rising expectation, keeping ahead of the competition and optimizing you opportunities to connect and retain a dependable audience.
From rapid response times to a consistent omnichannel brand experience and more control over their purchase pathway – Flow XO’s smart chatbot solutions offer the flexibility you need to get ahead of the game on many elements of customer experience.
Ready to kick your customer experience up a gear?