You rely on your customers returning again and again to make your company a success.
But as you continue to scale your business, it can be hard to stand out in a competitive retail environment.
So what’s going to differentiate you from your competition? A world-class customer experience.
A positive and consistent customer experience is what keeps customers coming back.
Investing in the customer experience will drive success. In fact, according to Zendesk, 75% of customers are willing to spend more on brands that provide a good customer experience.
Keep reading to understand more about why a world-class customer experience matters and how you can start creating the best purchase journey for your customers.
What is customer experience?
In total commerce — which means conducting commerce wherever your customers are, on their terms — customer experience is more than just a one-time encounter a consumer has with your company. Customer experience is a journey.
And this journey is the sum of all interactions a customer has at every single touchpoint, end-to-end. How does your customer think about your brand? How do they feel about your brand?
The answer is in their experience. In total commerce, this journey takes place across multiple channels and platforms — on social sites, your website, offline at physical stores, mobile devices, and more. There is no interruption. There are no imaginary lines drawn between channels and platforms — it’s one experience.
Let’s say a customer sees a pair of running pants she likes on your Instagram page. She should be able to browse and easily navigate your website to find that very same pair of pants. Then, she seamlessly switches devices from her desktop to her smartphone because she’s on the go.
On her smartphone, she’s able to check out the pants she already has in her cart (which she put there while browsing on her desktop) and pay for them with a flexible payment option. After that, she’s able to visit a brick-and-mortar location to pick up her order. Unfortunately, the pants don’t work so well for her long-distance runs, so she completes the return process online after talking to a customer service representative.
How did the process impact her? How did she think about your brand while she was switching devices or picking up her new running pants? How did your customer service representative make her feel as they directed her handling of the return? The answer to these questions is the total commerce customer experience.
How world class customer service affects the customer experience
Customer service is often used interchangeably with customer experience. And while it’s a fundamental component of the customer experience, it’s not the entire experience itself.
Instead, customer service is the support you provide throughout the customer experience. For example, customer service is when a customer has a problem with a product, a shipping and delivery delay, or needs to make a return.
Good customer service leads to loyalty. In fact, according to recent customer service statistics, 93% of consumers will make recurrent purchases from a company that has first-rate customer service.
And more often than not, interactions with customer service employees are some of the only person-to-person interactions a customer has with your brand. Because of this, the level of customer service you provide stands out.
This is why it’s vital to the success and growth of your business to provide world-class customer service.
Your customers are the glue that holds your business together. This means to keep your business holding steady (and continually growing), it’s essential to establish a customer-service first culture within your company. Every department needs to be focused on what your customers want, need and feel — especially when they’re having a problem.
You can do this by empathizing with your customer’s pain points. Your customers want to be heard and genuinely understood.
Encourage employees in customer service roles to listen first and respond second. They should give appropriate and empathetic feedback and help customers solve their problems.
If your customer service team can’t help, communicate this to the customer clearly and honestly. And then find someone who can.
Once a resolution has taken place, follow up with your customer and see how the experience made them feel. Then use this feedback to improve your customer service process.
Creating a world-class customer experience
Creating a world-class customer experience means incorporating evolving consumer demands into your processes and practices. Consumer research from Linnworks highlights the effortless economy desired by consumers today. In fact, the expected customer experience is marked by convenience at every touchpoint and interaction. So how can you meet your customers’ needs to create a world-class customer experience?
1. Upgrade your channels
A frictionless buying experience across devices is now the expectation of 81% of customers, according to ecommerce trends research from Linnworks. And to create this environment, your platforms should be easy to use, and your customers should be able to switch seamlessly between them. This will keep them shopping with you from the product discovery stage through the end of the check-out process. (And returning down the road.) So what are the most critical features to update?
- Mobile: Upgrade your brand’s mobile experience to ensure it rivals that of the desktop shopping experience. Your website needs to be responsive.
- Website: 67% of shoppers abandoned their cart over complicated search and check-out features. Simplify these aspects of your website and make it easy for your customers to find the products they want and to buy them without interruption.
- Social Commerce: Consumers want the option to buy the products they see on the platforms they trust without being redirected to your website.
Tip: When growing your selling channels, be mindful that they should have real-time updated inventory information. Integrate an inventory management software that can do this to avoid manual mistakes that create unnecessary friction.
2. Meet customers where they shop
Social commerce — the buying and selling of goods on social platforms — continues to skyrocket. In fact, one in three consumers has now purchased an item while on social media like on Instagram or Facebook.
If you want to create a world-class customer experience, meet your customers where they spend their time shopping. You can do this by selling on social channels and maintaining a helpful and established social presence.
3. Personalize interactions
Convenience in all forms is the pinnacle of a good customer experience in 2021 and beyond.
In fact, 76% of consumers prioritize convenience when choosing an online retailer. And nothing is more convenient than a company knowing who their customers are and what they want.
You can personalize the customer experience by:
Building relationships on social platforms
Interacting with your customers on social platforms and continually providing them with value helps create a positive customer experience. For example, if you sell car wax, you can also post information about new vehicles hitting the market or “DIY Maintenance Tips.” Then when customers comment, send messages, or tag friends, interact with them directly (and promptly).
Creating a person-centered selling environment online
When shopping on your website, customers should be offered product recommendations, search options, and browsing suggestions based on their behavior.
Providing a customer-first shopping experience
Every department should be focused on making your customers’ needs feel understood. For example, suppose a customer is trying on jackets. In that case, your employees should understand jacket sizing and be able to offer recommendations for other, similar products and accessories that pair well with that specific jacket.
4. Communicate clearly
Clear communication is key to a world-class customer experience. For example, 62% of consumers expect clear and transparent communication throughout the shipping and delivery process (and will prioritize buying from a merchant who provides this information). A seamless customer experience includes clear communication after consumers click the buy button.
One of the benefits of an inventory management system is that it allows you to track products every step of the way, ensuring that you can provide your customers with accurate and timely details from the moment they make their purchase.
You can use the data from your system to communicate clearly with your customers by:
- Communicating estimated shipping and delivery costs
- Confirming purchases immediately
- Providing accurate tracking details from multiple courier services
The lines between an online, offline, and mobile buying journey don’t exist when it comes to total commerce. Your customers must be able to shop across devices, channels, and marketplaces without interruption.
It’s up to you to create the best customer experience possible. Provide clear communication, a personalized shopping journey and give your customers the convenience and freedom to do all of this where they’re most comfortable — whether it be from a social platform on their couch or at a brick-and-mortar store.
Your customers have made their expectations clear. So to keep them loyal and scale your business, provide the world-class customer experience they deserve.