Introduction to Ecommerce Customer Experience
The best customers even become your advocates, recommending your brand to others — and the more of these regulars you have, the better.
The key to building customer loyalty is ensuring the utmost in customer satisfaction. Whenever a new visitor arrives at your website, you need to make a great first impression and maintain that sense of quality throughout the customer’s journey.
Your existing customers need equal attention to keep them engaged with your business, and customer satisfaction is how you build a long-term relationship with them. Satisfied customers are on their way to becoming the brand advocates that every business craves, and that’s why customer satisfaction needs to be a top priority.
But what makes a satisfied customer? You need more than just a good product and a fair price.
The backbone of customer satisfaction is customer experience, and every aspect of your business affects it.
What is Customer Experience?
Customer experience describes customers’ feelings about doing business with you and whether you’ve met their expectations.
This is influenced by every interaction between the customer and your brand, from the quality of your website to the speed at which you ship out your orders.
Each step of the customer journey is a valuable opportunity to provide a satisfying eCommerce customer experience that will turn customers into long-term clients.
1. Optimize Your Website
Your website should demonstrate that you value your customers’ time and care about their eCommerce experience. Brand promotion is important, but your website’s main purpose should be to help customers.
Don’t force them to wade through irrelevant content before they can start shopping. Instead, let them jump right in with straightforward navigation that allows them to find what they’re looking for with only a few clicks.
Customer-first design also means mobile-first design. eCommerce statistics show 60-70% of all web traffic and 53% of worldwide eCommerce traffic coming from mobile devices.
Speed is crucial; according to Google, a 1-second delay in mobile website load time can cause a 20% drop in conversion rate. To increase conversions and ensure a satisfying eCommerce experience, your website’s pages should load to a usable state within 3 seconds.
Secure, streamlined checkout is vital. Customers are wary of online transactions, so you want to avoid any problems that can give them second thoughts, including tedious load times and confusing forms.
A single-page checkout will speed things up, and consider accepting mobile-ready digital wallets like Apple Pay or Google Pay, which allow customers to check out instantly.
2. Be Approachable and Responsive
Customers hate feeling like they’re dealing with a faceless corporation that only sees them as numbers. If you can show them that your primary interest is in serving their needs, rather than simply making a sale, they’ll love you for it.
The more ways your customers can contact you, the better. Create a dedicated Contact Us page on your website and invite them to get in touch. Include a contact form on the page to smooth the process. Live chat also makes your website feel more welcoming, whether staffed by a real human or a chatbot.
Customers commonly reach out to businesses on social media, so maintain Twitter and Facebook accounts and be willing to help with all questions, no matter how small.
Helping customers in a public venue like social media will also help make a good impression on others, which will improve your brand’s standing. Answer all inquiries quickly and be ready to accept customer feedback, good and bad.
Responding to negative feedback is an opportunity to improve your business and better understand your customers.
3. Make a Good Impression with Shipping
Most eCommerce businesses view shipping as the end of the process, but in truth, shipping is just the beginning of your relationship. It’s a vital part of the customer experience that can be the deciding factor in whether the customer orders from you again, so don’t miss out on this chance to make it memorable.
Improve your shipping process with a multi-part strategy that allows you to ship orders promptly and keep customers informed. The faster you can pick and pack orders, the sooner they’ll be ready for pickup, so keep your business stocked with packaging materials and be ready to move as soon as an order comes in.
Tracking numbers and automated notifications will always keep customers aware of their order status, eliminating doubt.
Consider how you pack your shipments, too. Presentation matters almost as much as preventing breakage, and customers love unboxing a purchase that has obviously been packed with their experience in mind. You can even give it a personal touch by including a note or a small bonus item to show your appreciation.
4. Provide a Convenient Returns Process
Returns aren’t the end of the world. In fact, if you know how to handle them, they can do wonders for your reputation as a business. A great returns process will inspire confidence and encourage customers to make more purchases later by showing them that you’ll make things right if they’re not satisfied.
The key is to create a well-defined return policy and set up a procedure for following it. State clearly the conditions under which you’ll accept returns, including deadlines, the item’s condition, how refunds or exchanges will be processed, and who pays for return shipping.
The more forgiving your return policy the better, especially if you’re able to offer free returns — a study by Barclaycard found that 47% of shoppers won’t make a purchase unless the business covers return shipping. If you can work it into your budget, it’s worth it.
Use a Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) system to handle your returns. This crucial tool lets you review customers’ return requests and ask for information, providing another valuable opportunity to interact with the customer.
This feedback can help you minimize future returns; for example, if customers frequently claim an item isn’t as described, improving your product descriptions can solve the problem.
If you accept the return and your business handles return shipping, you can provide an RMA shipping label for the customer to use. Your RMA system also streamlines the process of adding the product back into your inventory once it’s received, freeing up more time for customer service.
5. Nourish Your Customer Relationships
You never want your customers to feel like they only matter to you when they come to your website with their credit card in hand. Earlier we mentioned that customers don’t like to feel like numbers, and the best way to ensure they understand you view them as people is to build active relationships that show them you care.
This ties into being approachable but also includes you reaching out to the customer. The simplest way is a personalized post-purchase email asking them if they have any questions about the product, to be sent within a day or so after their order is marked as delivered.
This isn’t an outright request for a product review; it’s a simple gesture that shows you care about how your products are improving their life. The product review request can come later after they’ve had a chance to use the item.
You can also contact your customers with updates relating to products they’ve purchased, like the release of an upgraded model or new accessory. Inform them of price changes on items on their wish list or left in their cart. If you start to run low on a product they were saving for later, let them know and include a coupon code. They’ll appreciate the heads up and the discount!
Use a Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) for a centralized overview of your customers and a solid system for managing your interactions with them. A CRM keeps customer service organized and helps ensure no customer gets left behind.
Ecommerce Customer Experience Best Practices
Customer satisfaction depends wholly on customer experience, which in turn is affected by every step of the customer journey and every touchpoint between your business and the customer. If you want to improve customer experience, you’ll need to examine every aspect of your business.
- Your website needs to be fast, convenient, and informative, with no opportunities for frustration. Mobile-friendly design is a must
- Customers need easy ways to get in touch with you, and you need to respond promptly. Be present and attentive to their questions
- Ship orders quickly and keep customers up to date on their order status. A little extra effort goes a long way
- Treat returns as a valuable customer service opportunity, using defined policies and procedures with an RMA system
- If you forget a customer, they’ll forget you. Use CRM to organize your relationship-building efforts with your customers
Remember: Your customers are why you’re in business.
Put these tips into action and you’ll create an eCommerce customer experience they’re sure to love.