This time last year, we wrote about our observations on the state of eCommerce in a mid-COVID world.
Customer Experience (CX) in the world of eCommerce
There's an old saying in business that “a happy customer tells a friend, but an unhappy customer tells the world”.
An exceptional customer experience should be a top priority for every business. If you can achieve that, customer loyalty, word of mouth, and increased sales will naturally follow. But screw it up, and watch your customers flock to your competitors as your revenue flatlines.
Cost per acquisition is another reason customer experience (CX) is so critical. Customer retention is generally more cost-efficient than new customer acquisition, so it makes sense to think about and invest in your retention strategies. And when it comes to retention, CX is key.
So what IS Customer Experience in the context of eCommerce?
CX encompasses more than just the process of adding products to a cart and checking out. In broad terms, Customer Experience is the sum total of all the interactions a customer has with your business and your brand.
But in the context of eCommerce, the focus shifts more to your online platform, your personalisation efforts, order fulfilment, and your value-add approach. This includes:
- Personalisation – offer the user product and content recommendations based on their browsing activity or prior purchase, for example
- Helpful, educational content – become an expert resource for someone doing research or a buyer who is new to procurement in the category. Leverage your industry knowledge to deliver content of value, enhancing your customer’s experience.
- 24/7 support – let customers reprint invoices, pay accounts, track orders, and initiate returns. Make it easy to contact customer service when needed. Ensure errors are rectified quickly.
Where to begin with your eCommerce CX strategy?
Of course, the overarching goal is to provide every customer with a great experience when dealing with your brand. But in terms of CX strategy, it pays to know who your BEST customers are, and go above and beyond for them in particular. Especially in the world of B2B, you might have 20% of your customer base responsible for 80% of your revenue. These 20% are the customers you really need to delight.
One example of this CX alignment strategy can be found at GAP, a prominent US clothing retailer, who are designing a fulfilment system that prioritises their best (i.e. most valuable) customers. This new system ensures GAP’s loyal ‘lifetime’ customers will enjoy gold class service and much faster delivery speeds than their silver and bronze counterparts. The business gets to offer their best customers special treatment, without sending overall cost-to-serve skyrocketing. Of course, GAP operates in the B2C retail world, but the alignment premise stands for B2B as well.
Not all customers are created equal
As Arkade co-founder & director Danny Phillips explains, “CX... is the discipline of bringing back good old-fashioned customer service”. But it’s important to reiterate here that you don’t necessarily have to treat every customer the same. Instead, eCommerce can be used to go that extra mile for your VIPs.
In an episode of The eCommerce Experience podcast, Danny illustrates how this might be achieved in an online returns scenario in a B2C organisation:
“…eCommerce teams start seeing Dennis just bought three shirts of the same style in different sizes. He will be returning something, obviously. So, let's make sure we put a return bag in there, rather than make him request it and then go through the process.
We’ll give that to Danny because his annual spend with us is over $1500, whereas we're not going to give it to Andrew - even though he spent the same amount as Danny did today - because we've never seen him before. So, maybe we don't give that experience to him just yet.
So, aligning your best experiences to your best customers, because often brands will say, ‘Well, I can't afford to give a return bag to every customer.’ And we're saying, ‘You don't have to give it to every customer.’ Give everything you've got to your best customers. Don't let them down.”
CX in B2B eCommerce
Whether focusing on your VIP customers or looking to improve CX across the board, there are myriad ways to leverage your eCommerce platform in elevating the customer experience.
In the B2B world, personalising the eCommerce experience can go a long way toward making your customer feel recognised and valued. Perhaps after logging into your website, a large government or mining customer sees their organisation’s logo featured alongside yours. With a personalised site 'skin', their contract items prominently displayed in the product feed and a re-order template at the ready, your platform can make them feel as though they’re ‘at home’ in their own portal.
No matter how you choose to approach CX, your eCommerce platform is a powerful channel, an extension of your people, and ultimately another ambassador for your brand.