For a long time, the sales process was looked at in fairly simple terms. You set out an offer, make it sufficiently tempting that the target buyer feels sufficiently compelled to convert, then complete the exchange. That’s it, the end of the process. The next step? Lather, rinse, and repeat. Find a fresh stranger to tempt with your wares. Keep your eyes on the future.
This was still true when e-commerce first achieved mainstream recognition, but not for very long. Companies were already getting to grips with the remarkable potential of big data (most notably Amazon, that was way ahead of the game with its early use of dynamic recommendations), and the prospect of perpetually bringing in new customers lost its luster.
Why is this, when operating in the digital sphere meant gaining easy access to a vast market? Because everyone else also gained access to that market, and there was no longer any great reason (such as locational convenience) to buy from a small business instead of a large one. This allowed select brands to utterly dominate and squeeze others out of contention.
The result was widespread acceptance that always chasing new customers isn’t a viable strategy. Instead, modern companies must seek to build up bases of loyal customers who won’t be swayed by attractive offers or interesting product alternatives elsewhere — and improving customer experience is key to this. The better the CX, the more likely the customer is to stay.
Segment your marketing materials
I mentioned how Amazon was ahead of the game with its dynamic recommendations, and this is evidenced by every e-commerce system now having that option (whether natively or through extensions). It’s superb for cross-selling and upselling, raising order values and resulting in happier customers — after all, we all want to feel that we’re getting unique experiences.
You can do more, though. In addition to product recommendations, you can provide distinct marketing content for each customer (or customer group). Marketing isn’t only for prospective customers: marketing to those who’ve bought from you before is a much more reliable option since loyal customers spend more and show more consistent interest. There are so many ways to approach content marketing, and every single one can be extensively personalized.
While you ultimately need to compose your content (that part can’t realistically be automated), the composition and distribution can be automated. For instance, you can create various templates for customer types and have your email marketing tool use shared copy to populate the appropriate template before sending it out. You can even automate the creation of personalized video using unique customer data to show exceptional awareness.
Offer real-time chatbot query results
The smart deployment of well-designed chatbots is extremely powerful for improving CX. It ensures a level of 24/7 accessibility (vital in a time of flexible working hours and international retail sourcing customers in distant time zones), and it offers both exceptional consistency and near-instantaneous response times. Real people are slow and fallible: chatbots aren’t.
And beyond simply equipping chatbots with sets of answers to frequently asked questions, you can bolster them with convenient functions that can draw from live data in useful ways. For example, a chatbot can check an order’s status in real time, letting a customer know how things are proceeding and reassuring them in the process — or it can tell them when the next stock for a particular item is expected, keeping them invested in returning to the store.
Schedule follow-ups and reminders
How you communicate with your customers can hugely impact how they view you, but it isn’t always about open conversation: sometimes it’s about reaching out to them to simply offer some kind of value (and potentially get it returned). Traditionally, this would be done manually — but you’d have to find a moment in your busy schedule to contact a particular customer.
Take follow-ups, for instance. When someone has purchased something from you, you want to nurture that interest in your store in the hope that they’ll come back, so you have good reason to offer additional assistance. Do they have any questions you could answer? Alternatively, think about cart abandonment. If someone almost converts but leaves with several items in their cart, there’s value in getting in touch with them to encourage their return.
These things can easily be scheduled and automated. Several days after an order has been completed, an email can go out to thank the buyer for their purchase and offer them some support should they need any. A few hours after someone abandons their cart, an automated message can go to them with a discount code they can use if they come back. Implement these automations across the board and your customers will have more ways to proceed.
Automate customer feedback collection
Knowing what your customers think of you and your business is necessary for making your business better, but the process of gathering feedback can be tedious — so you should automate it to ensure consistency and yield a lot more relevant information. If you don’t know where your customer experience is falling short, you can’t address the problems.
While there are various solutions on the market, the most well-known is SurveyMonkey: you can achieve a wide selection of survey configurations using native options, and the strong Zapier integration ensures that your choices don’t stop there. Remember, though, that your surveys are only as good as the questions you elect to ask: if you’re vague with your wording or simply neglect to ask about certain things, you won’t get the results you’re looking for.
Customer experience isn’t just about offering the right products and/or services with minimal turnaround times and affordable prices. It’s also about providing customized interfaces, options and materials — not to mention paying close attention to everything your customers like (and dislike) about your business.
Follow the suggestions we’ve looked at here and you’ll place your business in a much stronger position to earn meaningful customer loyalty: the kind of loyalty that serves as the bedrock of all companies with lasting success.