Delighting Digital Customers
While the primary intent of ecommerce is to provide a customer an experience that is focused on speed and convenience, the “experience economy” has seeped into online buying. Through a host of strategies intended to delight online customers, savvy companies can provide a personalized customer experience that enhances loyalty, increases sales, and improves general customer satisfaction.
A good online customer experience starts prior to purchase, and most critical to the shaping of that experience is page design. While Amazon still dominates the e-retail sphere, many forgo shopping at Amazon for branded sites. Companies that are particularly successful at peeling commerce from Amazon have webpages which create a sense of community and engender trust in the brand and product. The pages of these companies convey a degree of expertise and authenticity by emphasizing the “why of their products” in lieu of highlighting the most recent sale or promotion. Sites also succeed in enhancing perceptions of their brand on their sites with the inclusion of customer engagement components like quizzes, or personalized product bundles, through which they cleverly subvert the commercialization through individualized engagement strategies.
Even a well-designed page, which succeeds in providing an ideal customer experience needs to be optimized. As the market changes, and customer’s needs, and sentiments evolve, a good ecommerce site needs to evolve with their customers. A continuous regimen of organized A/B testing will ensure that your site is functioning to serve your clients at the highest level possible. A successful testing regimen will require a roadmap, which employs feedback mechanisms to provide quantitative measures about which designs are best suited to delivering peak user experience. By leveraging analytics, feedback surveys, heatmaps, and user tests insights can be gleaned from your customers journey through your site. From this detail incremental, iterative adjustments to your site can be made, ensuring that your customers experience is optimized.
Post-sale experience is also critical to ensuring and maintaining your customers satisfaction. This includes the design of the packaging in which the product is delivered. While packaging used to be a means for companies to differentiate themselves from their competition, it has now become a necessity, as cleverly designed delivery packaging is adopted more broadly. A confluence of trends has pushed this development. From the ubiquity of “unboxing videos”, to the fact that primary means of broadcasting conspicuous consumption is via social media, a cleverly designed package has become a critical component for delivering a memorable customer experience. Further, as consumption has transitioned from a means to an end, to be a support of aspirational lifestyles, the packaging should be an extension of the that products positioning as a lifestyle enhancement. Well-designed delivery packages can also improve recall and enhance loyalty. This effect can be enhanced further by incorporation of personalization elements, such as notes. Product packaging is a perfect opportunity to showoff your brand’s personality and create a connection with your customer.
Essential to solidifying a satisfying post-sale experience are the follow-up emails. These serve multiple purposes, and foremost amongst these is an expression of gratitude for the customer’s business. Since ecommerce denies the instant gratification of a physical sale, post-sale emails should work to assure the customer that the transaction is proceeding smoothly. To provide that assurance, emails should confirm that the order was received, provide expectations for shipment, and provide contact detail for questions. Additionally, follow-up emails should include links to share purchases on social media, providing additional exposure to your products, and to provide additional opportunity for customers and potential customers to engage with your brand. Again, these emails should be taken as an opportunity to express and convey authenticity and nurture the relationship with the customer. Inclusion of humor or personality in the notification emails is ideal.
While the avenues for creating memorable customer experiences in the digital realm differ from brick and mortar, the fundamentals are the largely the same. By conveying authenticity and expertise through webpage design and listening to your customer you can engender trust. Through genuine and well-timed communications, and with thoughtful and unique delivery methods you can delight and build loyalty. By leveraging these methods, companies are able to create a personalized digital customer experience which can be just as rich and satisfying to their customers as can be found in physical sales settings.
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