How do you achieve frictionless customer experience while still boosting revenues? With a clear understanding of who your customers are.
Did you know that 97% of e-commerce businesses fail because they don’t really know who their customers are or what they want? Trying to deliver everything to everyone, many online businesses suffer as a result of becoming too spread out and unfocused.
And not knowing what online customers want not only has a negative impact on the day-to-day operations of an online business but also seriously jeopardizes its’ reputation and bottom line. Here’s what the research tells us:
- JDA Software Group, who surveyed over 1,000 U.S. online shoppers, discovered that 50% of those surveyed encountered problems receiving their purchases. Given this surprisingly high failure rate, it’s no surprise that half of those who have had a problem with product delivery in the past year said they wouldn’t buy from that online retailer again.
- Oracle reports that in 2011 poor customer service resulted in 86% of customers making the decision to quit doing business with an e-commerce business, up nearly 30% from just four years earlier. These companies not only lost the business of their existing customers but also that of their potential customers: online shoppers are almost twice as likely to tell others about a negative customer experience as they are to share a positive one.
- The obvious problem here is that these online businesses never get a second chance to make up with their customers. But there is a second, perhaps less obvious problem, as well. A typical business will only hear from 4% of its dissatisfied customers. The other 96% just walk away and take their business elsewhere. This means that already-suffering online businesses never receive any customer feedback which would enable them to understand and fix areas of friction in the customer experience.
There is no doubt that the only truly successful online businesses are those which deliver a superior customer experience. In fact, studies show that 81% of companies “with strong capabilities and competencies for delivering customer experience excellence” are outperforming their competition.
For your online business to be successful, you must design and deliver an experience which ensures that each customer is able to access the products and services they need when they need them. Your goal must be to delight the customer at every step in their journey, a goal which can only be accomplished by gathering and acting on customer knowledge.
Closing the Gap: What You Are Delivering vs. What Customers Are Experiencing
Studies show that when it comes to knowing who their customers are and what they want, many businesses are falling, leading to an ineffective customer experience, decreased brand loyalty, and sales.
One study reports that 80% of businesses believe that they are, in fact, already delivering “superior” customer service. But only 8% of customers agree with this self-assessment. Clearly, there is a gap between what customers expect and what they are experiencing with these companies. Considering that 60% of customers leave a business because they perceive the business to be indifferent to their needs, and another 70% leave because they have received poor service, this customer knowledge gap must be addressed.
But, of course, if these companies are not collecting customer feedback, they will never know how to address that gap.
Collecting customer knowledge would help these companies – as it will help you - get to know each customer individually, allowing for the design of a truly unique customer-centric experience, an experience that not only increases sales but also delivers better value to customers because they are getting what they want, how and when they want it.
Asking the Right Questions
Customers today expect a seamless, personalized experience from the companies they buy from. To accomplish this goal, consider the following three types of questions, all of which will help you better identify your target audience so that you can fine-tune your customer experience to serve them more effectively.
#1: Who Are They?
Figure out not only who has a need for your product or service, but also who is most likely to buy and why. Moreover, understanding what your customers’ needs help you shift the conversation from how they can help you (i.e. “buy our product”) to how you can help them. Keep in mind that more than half of all customers switch to a competitor when they feel unappreciated, so knowing who you are selling to and what you can do to prevent them from switching is crucial. Consider asking:
- In one sentence, describe yourself.
- Where, exactly, did you first hear about us? How did you find us?
- What problem did we/did we not help you solve?
- How did we/did we not make your life easier? better?
#2: What Do They Need?
Some companies are hesitant to ask for feedback and ideas because they think doing so will open them up to criticism. But, remember, if you don’t find out now what your customers like (or dislike), or what they need (or don’t need), you might just find them walking away from your site. Harvard Business Review reports that 56% of customers are likely to walk away when they have to re-explain an issue when speaking to a customer service rep, expanding what they consider being “moderate-to-high effort to resolve an issue.” Meanwhile, according to RightNow, 73% of consumers say friendly customer service reps – reps who understand and can quickly meet their needs - can make them “fall in love with a brand”. Consider asking:
- How would you describe us to a friend? (Please write the exact words you would use.) How likely are you to recommend us to a friend?
- What would you miss the most if you could not use us anymore?
- What’s the one big thing we’re missing?
- Please list the top 3 things that persuaded you to use us.
#3: How Well Do You Deliver?
Customer attitudes about their past experiences with your company are a strong predictor of their future behavior with you. For example, according to the same Harvard Business Review study, only 28% of dissatisfied customers will continue to do business with a company which has disappointed them. One of the biggest causes of dissatisfaction is inconsistent service across multiple channels. Accenture reports that 85% of customers expect a smooth, multi-channel experience. Therefore, to increase customer retention and reduce turnover you want to find out how successfully customers are able to complete their multichannel journey with you. Consider the following questions:
- What prevented you from buying with us?
- What could we have done to make your buying decision easier?
- How easy is it to navigate our website?
- Were you able to find the information you were looking for on our website?
More Knowledge, Improved Actions
As you gather knowledge about your customers, you will want to put what you learn to use to improve your customer experience
You may find that your customers value something about your product that didn’t seem that important to you. Or customer feedback may spawn an entirely new service or a product redesign.
You might discover that you need to rewrite your F.A.Q.’s to provide more relevant help to your customers. Or you may discover that your customers aren’t who you thought they were. Perhaps you are targeting the wrong demographic.
Look for the connections in the data you analyze. If a lot of customers purchase product A and B only to purchase product C six months later, you might consider bundling A and B with C, or offering every customer who bought A or B a third product, C, at the point of transaction.
Regardless, the goal here is to use the gathered feedback to understand who exactly is making the decision to buy your product or service, why they are buying it, and then designing an experience to keep those customers coming back for more.
Ask for their ideas, start a conversation, solicit their feedback. Look for ways to improve your customer experience to show customers that you are open to their ideas, that – ultimately - they are your number one priority. No doubt, the information you receive will help you steer your e-commerce company to the next level of success.