According to a study by Qualtrics XM Institute, 94% of American customers will recommend a company whose customer experience they rate as “very good.” Additionally, only 13% of consumers will recommend a company whose customer service they’ve rated as “very poor.”
As of late, the frequent shifts in customer behavior have created an environment where businesses need to adapt quickly to be competitive. The solution for this is the growth in the science and development of the customer experience discipline.
A company’s customer experience efforts — from organizational structure to team building to execution — start with strategy. An eye on this being the first and foremost part of the plan should be paramount.
Let’s take a look at five important ways to build an exceptional ecommerce customer experience that CMOs and CX leaders should use to develop their playbook for 2022 and beyond.
1. Build an Ecommerce Customer Experience That Matches Your Brand Promise
What does your brand promise customers? Convenience? Quality? Innovation? Every customer experience strategy should start with a brand promise. If your customer experience doesn’t align with your brand, you’ll break the trust you’ve forged with your customer. If your brand focuses on delivering high-quality products featuring the best materials from premium sources, your ecommerce experience should reflect that.
If your customer lands on your website, for example, and product image quality is poor, navigation is unruly, and the process of adding a product to their cart is clunky, you have created a divide between your brand promise and your customer experience.
The result is that you tarnish your brand’s image and break trust with your customer base. They might even begin to question the quality of your product, disbelieving your brand promise due to the experience they have with your brand online. On the flip side, if you create an ecommerce experience that reflects your brand promise, you can establish a stronger bond of trust between you and your customer.
Great example: Kroger
The supermarket chain Kroger guarantees its customers that the products it sells are “fresh for everyone,” and it works to convey that brand promise at each stage of the customer experience. During the pandemic, Kroger leaned into its brand promise as it focused on providing a quality ecommerce experience.
With easy grocery delivery options, simple curbside pickup, and a commitment to keeping its stores safe for all, Kroger built a customer experience that reflects its egalitarian view of providing access to fresh food for everyone. As you utilize its website or mobile app, you are greeted with warm colors, diverse animated characters, and a simple shopping workflow.
For Kroger’s customers, their ecommerce experience has only strengthened the company’s brand image. In 2020, Kroger doubled its ecommerce sales, netting nearly $11.3 billion in online sales. The company is only looking to increase this reach as it continues to keep its website fresh, its online experience seamless, and its omnichannel presence strong.
For brands looking to build a strategy around their customer experience, the conversation must begin with a focus on brand promises. From here, every aspect of the customer’s journey should reinforce and reflect these promises.
Related Reading: How to Improve Customer Loyalty in Ecommerce
2. Focus on Your Target Audience and Deliver What They Want
When you’re designing a customer experience, you need a laser focus on your target audience. What do your customers expect when they land on your digital storefront? What information will compel them to make a purchase?
There’s no doubt that you already understand who your target customer is, but are you using that to inform your strategy? Too often, businesses build a website that makes logical sense. It showcases its products, features a shopping cart, and offers a quick way to checkout online. But in this process, the unique needs and wants of their customer base are lost.
Great Examples: Patagonia & Duluth Trading Company
To showcase this practically, take a moment to look at Duluth Trading Company’s and Patagonia’s ecommerce experiences. Both companies are outdoor clothing retailers that feature products, a shopping cart, and all the same basic components but if you take a closer look at each one, you’ll see notable differences.
Patagonia showcases its commitment to the environment on every single page of its website. The company’s experience is simple in design, reflecting the minimalist outdoor lifestyle its customers espouse. Patagonia’s top-level navigation features only four options, two of which center around the human experience — Activism and Stories. Patagonia recognizes that its target audience is swayed by environmentalism, activism, and a love for the outdoors.
Duluth Trading Company uses its ecommerce experience to highlight its commitment to gear that can hold up to the most rigorous use. The company showcases its “No Bull Guarantee” and its straightforward attitude throughout every page. Duluth’s website is laid out to reinforce the value of its products and its customers’ preference for less frivolity and more practicality.
As you can see from these two similar yet uniquely different retailers, a large part of the ecommerce customer experience should focus on exactly what the target audience wants. Do they want to hear stories like Patagonia customers? Or similar to the customer case Duluth focuses on, do your customers simply want to buy a clothing item that needs replacing?
Take time to understand what your customers expect and what motivates them to make a purchase. Then, design your customer experience around those preferences.
Related Reading: Seamless Customer Experience: Why it Matters and How to Deliver
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3. Set Measurable Benchmarks and Adjust Accordingly
Your entire ecommerce strategy should be oriented to specific, measurable business goals.
It’s fine to launch an ecommerce experience aiming to net online sales and keep pace with the competition. But if you don’t have clearly defined goals around revenue and business metrics, your strategy will fall flat, and it won’t be easy to drive forward.
As you build benchmarks, make sure to take both a short- and long-term approach. It’s important to have goals for the near future that center around improving your customer ratings, increasing positive online reviews, and attaining new customers through digital channels. It’s equally important to have long-term goals that are tied directly into your business’ overarching goals. Ask yourself:
- How will an exceptional customer experience impact my company’s overall revenue stream?
- How will it improve my brand’s image for the next 10 years?
- And, most importantly, how will you measure the success or failure of each initiative tied to customer experience?
These benchmarks showcase the value of your ecommerce strategy and ensure that all teams involved are being held accountable. This allows you to adjust your strategy as needed.
Related Reading: Ecommerce Personalization: Benefits, Tactics, and Best Practices
4. Empathize With Your Customer
On the other end of every computer screen, tablet, or mobile device is a living, breathing human being with complex emotions and needs. Each part of the customer journey represents a human interaction. If the human experience is not at the center of your ecommerce strategy, your customer experience will suffer.
No amount of technology will ever replace the feeling of being understood and heard by another person. Make sure that you’re not sacrificing the human experience in exchange for the latest and flashiest ecommerce bells and whistles.
The best place to begin is with company employees who are responsible for interacting with your customer base. Listen to what they have to say. What’s working well for your customers? Where are they hitting pain points?
You can find another wealth of information in your online reviews. What are your own customers saying about their online experience? Gather all of your negative reviews from across the web and look for common themes.
On data reports, customers turn up as numbers. But in real life, they’re human beings who want to be heard and treated with respect. It’s their hopes, dreams, and aspirations that drive all that data because they’re investing in your company with every purchase. That’s why you need to empathize with them, delivering the exceptional online experience they want and deserve.
Related Reading: Optimize your Digital Customer Experience in 5 Practical Steps
5. Build Trust Through Customer-First Privacy Policies
A lot of questions have arisen around what is being done with customer data and personal information. Understandably, customers are concerned. There have been several questionable practices put in place by many digital giants, which have left a bitter taste in the mouths of consumers.
It all begins with consent. Customers need to be allowed to consent to the use of their data. This is far more than just a compliance issue. It’s about building trust. It’s about giving your customers the chance to explicitly indicate whether or not they want to share their information with your company.
If customers are willing to provide their personal information to your company, they should receive something valuable in return. In exchange for authenticating and providing consent to the use of their data, your customer should receive a highly personalized and customized experience. You should use their personal data to deliver an efficient shopping process, which requires less effort on their part than would be the case if they were shopping as an anonymous guest.
When you build your ecommerce experience, align all teams around the importance of data privacy and the policies your company puts in place. Also, make sure your customer is aware of what you are doing to protect their privacy and their data. This will go a long way in building trust with your customer base.
Related Reading: What is Digital Enablement?
Build an Exceptional Ecommerce Customer Experience With Our Team
If you’re looking to design an exceptional ecommerce customer experience, our team is here to help. We can work with you to:
- Design an ecommerce experience that reflects your brand promise
- Understand who your target audience is and what it is that they want from an ecommerce experience
- Align your ecommerce strategy to your business goals, creating measurable benchmarks
- Create a human-first approach to your digital experience
- Ensure that your customer’s privacy is always upheld and that you adhere to critical regulations