The online and offline customer experience differs prominently. In a physical store, customer use physical cues to assess the competency of an establishment. It is a lot easier to evaluate the professionalism of employees after meeting them in-person, in a local store. One is well aware of the transaction process and instinctively know how to return the purchase, in case any issues. However, for an e-commerce merchant, these cues are absent. The language, design, processes, content and the overall experience determine how a potential buyer perceives the business.
A positive customer experience leads to more sales and good word of mouth. A negative experience not only diminishes the potential for future sales, but can also lead to negative word of mouth that hinders new customer acquisition. Even though technology has made building an ecommerce empire easier than ever, one cannot afford to ignore the emotional and logical cues that buyers need to feel secure and confident making an online transaction. This can impede the growth of the best business models.
Survival in today’s economic climate and competitive e-commerce environment, requires more than just low prices and innovative product. It is imperative for each e-commerce portal to create an amazing customer experience that compels one to be a loyal customer, make repeat purchases and refer products and services to others. Customer experience must be central to the company’s strategy and a collective responsibility. A few ways to enhance customer experience and cultivate customer loyalty are mentioned below:
Self- service Support
Customers prefer to use self-support service to find answers to their queries, instead of phone or email support. Today, customers look for comprehensive information about the products and services- a detailed and accurate information on the product, wide range of product pictures and real reviews from customers. Providing such information in advance, builds a strong sense of trust amongst customers.
Sending personalised emails to customers has proven to be beneficial at all times. Such emails are tailored to individual needs and are more relevant in nature. This increases the likelihood that they will be opened, read and clicked on.Besides this, it is equally important to send ‘Thank You’ emails once a customer places an order.
User- friendly website and Smart Usability
A good e-commerce customer experience necessitates a fast page load time. According to a recent study by Radware, (Source cited below) for each second that takes to load a page, customer satisfaction drops 7 per cent. It is imperative to build a supreme infrastructure ensuring a rapid page –load speed.
Secondly, many customers look for easy-to-navigate websites. A multi-platform accessible, high-performing site can still fail if the site design is difficult to navigate or has elements that don’t work.Providing smart usability with easy features can deliver goods returns on investment.
What if the purchased product does not suit the customer? Will the size fit? Will the quality be good? Will the product be durable? - These are prime doubts in customer’s mind. Businesses should provide a hassle free shopping experience and strengthen the trust, eradicating such uncertainties in customer’s mind. Easy and quick returns lead to happy and satisfied customers.
For many consumers, trusting an online merchant with payment information, to deliver the product on time, and to provide service after the sale are potential impediments to the buying process. It is vital for each enterprise to build a safe empire, offering a secured buying experience to every customer.
In Today’s era, there is a need for each enterprise to be more ‘customer oriented’ and focus on expectation, logistics and emotion in every service delivery situation. To achieve this, it is important to first measure customer satisfaction and later cultivate a strategy to exceed it. Conducting personalised surveys (online or telephonic) and collecting customer feedback through IVR or online tools are some of the ways amongst others, to measure customer satisfaction.
The rise of internet has fostered a massive growth in the number of e-commerce retailers. Today, more and more start-ups are willing to join the Electronic trade. Therefore, it becomes even more essential to conduct surveys regularly to learn the customer’s opinion and offer products/ services accordingly.
About the Author :
Bawa Grover, Manager Partner, Hexagon Consulting is an entrepreneurial leader with deep subject matter expertise in areas of customer service excellence & customer experience management, innovation & technology, outsourcing/off shoring to name a few. He currently serves on the Board of 2 group companies of Hexagon Consulting, as well as an independent director on the board of two ITES companies in North India.