The power of customer experience is well-known among jewellery retailers.
A glass of champagne during the bridal buying process, or a friendly smile, can make a big difference when a customer is getting ready to hand over their credit card.
But what about your website? Just as customer service matters in-person, it also makes a big difference online. If a customer visits your website and finds it difficult to use, riddled with errors or filled with broken links, how will this reflect on your bricks-and-mortar stores?
Here, we explain what digital customer experience really means and why it is so important.
What is ‘digital customer experience’?
A digital customer experience is anything on your digital channels and social media that a customer comes into contact with, whether they’re just browsing for a gift or looking for support. In 2017, the lines between online and bricks-and-mortar retailing are blurred, which means how your brand performs online could change the way a person feels about your high street boutique.
Digital customers don’t just land on your website looking to shop. Some may be ‘webrooming’ or looking to browse your offer and discover the best prices ahead of a weekend shopping trip. Others may be ‘showrooming’, having visited a high street store to touch and feel products and now jumping online to find the best deal.
Digital experiences are driven by the needs of each individual who visits your website. This is why a personalised approach is such an important thing to consider when designing your digital experience.
Does your website meet the needs of someone trying to find a last minute gift and a returning, loyal customer? Does it provide inspiration for those who haven’t made up their minds yet? This is why gathering feedback and tracking your users as they move across your site is so important.
What constitutes a great customer experience online?
According to Crispin Boon, head research officer at technology and advisory insight firm, Maru/edr, there are four key facets to a great customer experience online. He explains: “In 2016, we analysed over 1.2 million responses to online retail surveys to uncover what the true drivers of digital experience satisfaction were – we discovered that ease, service, product and fulfilment are the four fundamentals of a fantastic digital customer experience. For example, shoppers will wait no longer than three seconds on average for a site to load – so important to keep up with demands.”
Is it possible to translate in-store customer experience to an online setting?
Although this may seem like a challenge, there are ways to translate all of your hard-earned customer service experience onto your website. While your stores benefit from well-trained staff, does your website encourage customers to fend for themselves? Change this by introducing a live chat tool, which allows your online customers to ask questions and experience the same friendly-approach that you promote in-store.
Another way to showcase your customer service online is through features like customer reviews, star-rating systems, beautiful product imagery and well-written, detailed content. The better these elements are, the more a site visitor can ‘self-serve’, without having to ring you out of frustration or confusion.
How can you measure, monitor and act on customer feedback?
Knowing what your customers are thinking is essential if you want to improve online. There are some great ways to capture feedback online, including site surveys that pop up after a purchase or during the browsing process, or integrated feedback buttons. Each method is worth exploring if you want to work out what makes your customers tick.
Feedback may seem overwhelming, especially if it is spread across operational issues, design, imagery and customer journey mapping. Instead of ignoring feedback, act on it and show your customers that you take their online needs into account, just as you do when you’re stood across from them in store. A good place to start is broken links, poor quality images, social media buttons that fail to loads, and easy access to a telephone number and other contact information.
Should every company have a digital customer experience manager?
Not necessarily, but it is important to get your wider team discussing the digital customer experience. Ask your staff to spend an hour in the shoes of a digital customer using your website – is it easy to navigate, are delivery options explained clearly, is a product description accurate? After all, the digital customer experience isn’t just the responsibility of your web developer.
The digital customer experience checklist
Is your website up to speed? Consider these top five places to start if you are ready for a website overhaul…
- Quick loading: Does your website take more than three seconds to load? Customers are proven to choose another site if the one they’re trying to access is slow.
- Mobile friendly: Does your website automatically format to a mobile and tablet size depending on the device your customer is using?
- Easy navigation: You want customers to find what they’re looking for quickly. If your menu bar is complicated, full of criss-crossing options or filled with broken links, you’re unlikely to impress.
- Contact details: Does your website clearly show a customer how they can get in touch with you? A phone number, email address and social media channels, clearly displayed, will ensure there’s no frustration.
- Quality imagery: Pixelated images are guaranteed to turn your audience off, especially on your homepage. Make the best possible first impression with engaging, interesting images.