With more widespread shopping choices than ever, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to win the hearts of consumers.
So how do you stand out from the crowd?
By creating a top quality customer experience. And it really does pay off:
- 61% of customers loyal to a specific brand will go out of their way to make a purchase from them, rather than a competitor.
- With 60% of these making more frequent purchases.
- Plus, a whopping 80% of customers are willing to pay extra if it means a better customer experience.
All making it essential to nail your customer experience if you want to see customers return again and again. So in this post, we'll run through five ideas to help you do just that.
1) Allow Customers to Help Themselves
Potential customers will always have questions and problems. But they don’t always want to phone your helpline or type into live chat.
In fact, customers are getting more and more impatient when it comes to accessing help online:
This is where a strong knowledge base can work wonders.
It’s all about having a base of information based around your product and/or service. Meaning customers can solve any common problems themselves quickly and easily - without having to go to the trouble of contacting support.
Knowledge base best practices
- Find the most common problems and questions your customers have.
- Answer questions in a way that’s detailed, yet concise.
- Organize the information into logical stages and sections, and make it easy to navigate.
- Align colors, language, tone, etc. to your brand.
- Treat it as a ‘living’ document that gets updated as and when new questions come to light or products are released.
BarkBox does a great job with the knowledge base for their subscription service. Starting with an easy search box in the header:
They then have different categories based on what customers typically ask about:
With simple, organized, easy to navigate questions and answers for each one:
2) Reward Customer Loyalty
Another great way to create a top-quality experience for your customers is to simply reward them for being loyal to your brand.
One of the best ways to do this is to create an awesome loyalty program.
A great loyalty program can help you:
- Identify your very best customers.
- Strengthen relationships with them.
- Differentiate your brand from competitors.
- Incentivise them to keep buying more and more.
There are three main types of loyalty program you’ll likely want to consider:
- Points. This is a system where your customers earn points for the money they spend. Lots of retailers fail at this by making it seem far more complicated than it really is - so make sure you communicate the benefits in a clear and concise way.
- Tiered. A tiered system offers customers different rewards depending on which tier they are in. Setting ranked tiers encourages customers to purchase more to move into the next tier, thus receiving better rewards.
- Paid-for. Offering a service or VIP membership for a monthly or annual fee can work so long as it’s beneficial to the customer. For example, offering free and/or faster shipping on all orders for $20 a year is hugely beneficial and ties customers to your brand.
Loyalty program best practices
- Make your program easy to understand. Nobody should need a math degree to work out your system, so don’t over-complicate it make it super clear exactly how it works.
- Make your program easily accessible. People should get rewarded for realistic spending targets. If you sell $10 bracelets, offering a 5% discount for spending $1,000 isn’t going to be very appealing.
- Make your program easily visible. Include onsite prompts, make launchers visible on all of your pages and consider adding a banner to your homepage.
Debenhams does this well with their Beauty Club program:
They clearly explain everything in bullets on a single page. Plus, not only do they offer points earned for money spent, but also list a range of other instant perks customers can get - like free delivery.
This may all sound quite complicated to set up. But there are a bunch of different ecommerce tools and plugins you can use that make it all crazy simple to do.
3) Make Your Returns Process Awesome
Returns is a critical part of any ecommerce business. Especially since 67% of consumers review a retailers return policy before purchasing.
People want to know they have a hassle-free way to back out of a purchase if it goes wrong.
So having a simple and attractive returns policy can be huge for initial conversions. While the way you actually handle and process returns can then be great for encouraging repeat buyers.
In fact, 95% of shoppers who made a return in the past said they would make another purchase so long as their returns experience was a positive one.
Returns policy best practices
- Advertise your policy. Don’t stuff your policy away in a link down in the website footer. If it’s attractive to customers, make sure to highlight it on product pages and homepage to maximise conversions.
- Easy to understand. A ComScore survey found that a returns policy that was unclear, and hard to understand was the second biggest reason for shopping cart abandonment.
- Cover the basic questions. There are always some basic questions your customers will be asking. Usually: How long do I have to make a return? How do I go about returning an item? Who pays return postage? Refund or store credit?
- Educate your team. Your team should know the exact details of your policy and also if they have a licence to bend it for VIP customers.
Make it easy to carry out. Using a back-end system with a comprehensive returns management feature will make it a lot simpler to process all your returns.
IKEA are often praised for their amazing returns policy, allowing customers to return goods for up to a whole year:
IKEA puts an emotional spin on the concept too. “It’s fine to change your mind” is a great way to frame their policy from the customer’s point of view.
4) Celebrate Special Occasions With Customers
Celebrating different occasions with customers is a great way to make them feel special and show you care.
Think things like:
- Anniversaries of their first purchase.
- Dates specifically relevant to your niche.
It’s a great way to strengthen your relationship, as well as creating a lasting impression that differentiates you from competitors.
A Fulcrum study found that 74% of consumers who received birthday messages from a company they do business with thought more positively of the company afterward. And 88% of this group translated to increased brand loyalty.
Birthday and special occasion emails are typically sent with a special discount code or free gift that entices the customer to make a purchase from you.
And they convert too:
Birthday emails best practices
- Lead with the occasion. Make sure you lead with making a big deal of the birthday or occasion, not a big call-to-action. Wish them a happy birthday and then offer a special discount code as a gift/thank you.
- Personalize. Try making the email and offer relevant to the person, ideally based on their previous buying, browsing or cart history. You’ll see much better conversions.
- Try an email sequence. Special occasion emails can be sent on the day, or as a series leading up to it. These can contain either a reminder about one code or offer, or different ones on each day.
Feel Unique do a great job of sending out birthday emails:
The email looks great, and also makes the happy birthday wishes super clear. The generous 20% code is then underneath with a ‘Shop Now’ CTA and deadline to create urgency.
5) Automate Your Back-End Operation
Not dealing with the operational basics at an early stage means you risk providing a negative experience - like delayed shipping, overselling and orders going missing.
Meaning customers are likely to:
- Not stick around with your brand very long; and
- Tell others about their experience in real-life and on social media.
Ironing these out as soon as possible is critical - especially since a third of customers say they’ll avoid a brand after just one negative experience.
Things you may consider small can have a massive impact on the experience you deliver as a whole:
So having a poor, unreliable shipping and inventory process will ruin your customers’ experience, and make them question whether to shop with you again.
Yet getting it right can massively boost overall customer satisfaction and experience:
Operations best practices
- Clearly set expectations. Make sure you’re clear and transparent with your shipping process, and set customer expectations accordingly. Don’t promise delivery by a certain date unless you’re sure you can deliver it.
- Get your picking right. A huge number of fulfillment errors happen during the picking process. So make sure you implement a picking system that’s suitable to the size of your business to optimise speed and accuracy.
- Automate your inventory. Keeping your inventory levels up-to-date is tough - especially when selling on multiple online channels. So implementing a quality inventory management system to do it for you is a game changer to avoid overselling and stock issues.
There are a multitude of ways to create an epic experience for your customers.
These can be simple offers that take your service that ‘extra mile’. Or streamlining the fundamental processes of your operation.
But at the heart of it all is the fact that experience is key in modern-day ecommerce. And is increasingly becoming a key brand differentiator.
Give a few (or all) of the ideas in this post a try, and you’ll have customers raving about your business in no time.
Author Bio: This guest post is contributed by Matt Warren.
Matt Warren is the Founder & CEO of Veeqo - a platform that handles inventory, orders, and shipping for omnichannel retail brands, allowing them to grow quickly while guaranteeing customers the epic experience they deserve. Matt spent several years running his own successful ecommerce business selling luxury watches online, before founding Veeqo in 2013. See it in action first-hand by booking a product demo today.