Offering great customer experience in a physical store is fairly straightforward. It simply involves having a good sales clerk, a well designed layout, the right atmosphere for shopping, and someone who can resolve any problems customers might face. However, improved customer experience for online businesses is not as straightforward. Even though it involves similar parameters, there are certain subtle distinctions where the process differs.
Today’s consumers have a wider choice of selections in terms of places to shop. For instance, there are countless ecommerce websites, struggling to attract customers; therefore, if you’re to have an edge over the competition, you’ll need a website that can attract attention quickly and provide a shopping experience that’s pleasant, easy and keeps users coming back for more.
So, what can you do to ensure your web application provides the best possible customer experience for visitors? The following tips can help you get started…
Having the right homepage is key
Studies suggest that you only have about eight seconds to capture the attention of a visitor who lands on your website. Fortunately, this is enough time to attract, engage and compel them to make a purchase decision (in your favour). However, you can only achieve this if you have the right homepage.
It goes without saying that the homepage is one of the most important pages on a website. Typically, visitors will land on the homepage, unless they’re arriving via a particular link or search result that specifically leads to a product page or another area of the website. Because the homepage is the first (and sometimes only) chance you’ll have to showcase your brand, it’s important that you make a good first impression.
The right elements on your homepage will help you captivate visitors, enough to make them want to continue browsing. Some of the tricks that can help include:
- A clean and uncluttered layout that places your brand’s value directly in the eyes of customer.
- Suitable visuals, bold typography and relevant high quality media content that can display well on both desktop and mobile devices.
- The right colour combination for emotional and psychological effects.
Make sure your site is fast enough
The biggest threat to the success of your online business isn’t the competition; it is in fact the ‘Back’ button on the browser of your potential customer. This is because visitors won’t be patient enough to wait for a website that’s slow to deliver results. They will simply abandon your page and look elsewhere. Poor page load speed makes for bad customer experience and is one of the major causes of page abandonment. To ensure your customers enjoy an adequate user experience, see to it that your website load speed is limited to just a few seconds. In fact, the current expectation for website page load speed is three seconds.
When planning for a quick loading website, don’t fail to consider mobile users. There are more people using mobile devices to access content on the internet than there are desktop users. Subsequently, mobile speed is also a critical factor for website visibility. This is because businesses need to ensure all aspects of customer engagement are optimised for mobile – from browsing to buying and engaging with the brand. It’s for this reason online businesses are opting for Cloud based hosting solutions. Cloud based hosting makes it easier to meet the demand for speed and mobile functionality, much more than traditional hosting.
Make it easy for customers to get what they want
While an attractive website has its advantages, it doesn’t guarantee success on its own. The usability of your web application is much more important when it comes to delivering great customer experience. This hubspot’s Infograph succinctly covers the most important factors in web design.
One of the fastest ways to ensure a great customer experience is by removing any potential hassle from their visit. This means making your site easy to use and intuitive, so that they can complete the task they came for quickly and seamlessly. There are two factors you need to consider to achieve this:
- Navigation: the ease with which customers can navigate your website will determine the type of experience they have. The moment your customer becomes confused and irritated, you’ve lost them. The key to customer oriented navigation is clarity. For example, when a customer encounters your website’s navigation system, they should be able to easily understand how your site is organised, where each link leads to and how to quickly retrieve the information they seek.
- Organisation: you may already be aware that users don’t like to thoroughly trawl a website, but instead scan through, looking for items and snippets of information that stand out. This means using bold typography, clear headlines, product categories and summaries that are well placed and clear to read. Organise your content in terms of relevance by placing the important content at the top, where it’s front and centre for customers to see. This way, they won’t have to look too far for the information that’s relevant to them.
It’s also a good idea to have a ‘Search’ bar placed at a strategic position on your website. Not everyone who visits your site knows exactly what they’re looking for; therefore, any feature that helps avoid time wasting will significantly improve customer experience.
Simplify the checkout process
People generally tend to appreciate uncomplicated ecommerce transactions, but it’s unfortunate that many businesses fail to take this into consideration when creating their checkout process. There are several ways you can simplify the checkout process in order to provide flawless customer experience. Here are just a few ideas:
- Accessible shopping cart: Often, customers go online to purchase one item, but end up buying more after shopping around on your website. For this reason, your shopping cart must be easily accessible across your website’s pages. The shopping cart icon is usually located at the top of the page, somewhere around the centre right menu. This way, customers can easily check what they’ve added to their cart and subsequently know whether to make any modifications. Additionally, a pop-up can be helpful when the customer is adding a new item. The role of this pop-up is to notify the user that they’re adding a new item, so they can confirm or decline before proceeding to checkout.
- Make recommendations: Not every customer knows exactly what they want from a website, which is where recommendations come in. Product recommendations are suggestions that can help customers decide whether they need a particular item, based on their browsing history. This will not only help improve customer experience, but also prove useful in pushing customers along in the sales funnel.
- Offer a variety of payment options: You won’t want to lose a potential sale (and possibly a return customer) just because their preferred payment option isn’t available. One attribute of a successful ecommerce platform is the ability to feature a wide range of payment options, particularly those that are commonly used by online buyers. You’ll be making things easy for your customers this way, and also improving your chances of successfully closing a sale.
You can combine PayPal, credit cards, online checks and even reliable cryptocurrencies.
Include customer reviews
Customer reviews aren’t just a great way to get valuable feedback and improve customer experience; they can also market your brand to potential customers. Reviews play a huge role in influencing buying decisions amongst a good number of consumers. Most will first read a review about a product or service before even visiting the relevant website; in many cases, a positive review will result in a sale. What’s more, for the customer who compiled the review, this is one smart way of making them feel valuable – a part of the brand.
Experts at DiscountDomain Names say that customers who leave reviews are likely those who had a great experience on your site and want others to know about it. This will significantly influence the decision making process of new customers or help redirect them to a related item.
Therefore, find an effective way to ask your customers to leave reviews on your website and make sure that they feature prominently on your homepage and product pages. When potential customers see the number of satisfied customers you already have, it will boost their confidence in your brand and reduce the effort needed to convert them.
Creating a consistent and impressive customer experience is a key element to succeed as an online business. The principles are somewhat similar to those of a physical store, which makes them easier to implement. However, when doing so, never forget the importance of customer support. After all, customer support is an integral part of the user experience, because a poor after sales service or follow-up can destroy the entire online experience. It is therefore important to make your customers feel valued, listened to and appreciated. Do these and you’ll build a large following of loyal customers that will help your business grow.