Skip to content

Why Customer Experience Matters – and How to Make Yours Better

Whether you’re an ecommerce retailer, a brick-and-mortar retailer or both, it’s becoming harder and harder to differentiate your business based on products alone. Instead, retailers need to focus on the customer experience, both today and going forward. Online-only retailers, commoditization of products and the growth of mobile use are among the factors making retailers’ jobs harder today.

customer experience

That’s why you need to differentiate your business by offering a seamless, personalized customer experience no matter where your customers are shopping or what device they’re using.

In fact, according to Namify, more than 70% of customers admit their reason to stay loyal with a brand is its awesome customer support. Loyal customers will forgive a lot and defend you publicly – if your customer support team serves them well.

That is huge…

Mobile matters

Your mobile shopping experience needs to be just as simple and intuitive as it would be on a desktop computer.

However, simplicity and ease are only the beginning. Your mobile merchandising needs to be sophisticated enough to attract shoppers, convey your brand and get them involved with your brand. It can’t be an afterthought.

Use Web Analytics

Make sure you are using Google Analytics (or alternatives) to keep an eye on how people are interacting with your website.

In the brick-and-mortar world, customer loyalty apps can be invaluable in giving you access to customers’ shopping habits and purchase history as well as their personal data.

Use customer surveys to collect feedback from your current customers and how usable your site is.

All elements of your branding, marketing and purchasing experience must match up and convey a unified feeling.

Provide support on social media

Social media has many valuable uses for businesses: as a marketing tool, as a way to listen to your customers and as a public relations mechanism. It is also an effective customer service tool.

When social media first started to get big in marketing, there was lots of buzz about some major companies that were blatantly ignoring customer service complaints on Twitter and Facebook. As a result, many companies rapidly took steps to start using social media for customer service – some even setting up dedicated customer service social media accounts.

While you should never ignore customer complaints in any format—including on social media—using primarily social media for customer service may be going too far.

This doesn’t mean you should start ignoring customer complaints on social media, of course. If you’ve been reaching out to customers with problems, keep doing so (even if they’re just venting, it’s great to ask if you can help). But it’s likely not worth opening a dedicated customer service channel on social media or moving most of your customer service efforts there.

Instead, offer customers a wide range of customer service options, including:

  • Create a detailed knowledge base answering all possible customer questions your site users may have. Colorlib offers a list plugins and themes to create one
  • Community support on your business website
  • A toll-free phone number to call for in-person assistance.
  • A way to contact your customer service department via email (a form on your website is good for this purpose).

Additionally, if your business has a local office, make sure you are monitoring your (and your competitors’) local business reviews and respond to those promptly.

You should even list your mailing address on your business website in case some customers prefer to write in with complaints or compliments. (Yes, they still exist!)

You can’t please all of the people all of the time–but by providing as many customer service choices as you can, you’ll please as many customers as you can.

Consider adding a live chat option

Having a live chat option (especially if it’s a smart chatbot that can also accommodate your customers’ needs) is a great way to streamline your customer support.

  • Customers can get answers quickly without having to find a phone, dial and go through an annoying phone tree to get to a live person.
  • The interaction is documented and can even be printed out for later reference by the customer.
  • Customer service employees can cut and paste links and other useful information into the conversation.
  • Your employees can speed service by cutting and pasting responses to common issues.
  • Customers can place their orders right away, since they’ll still be on the website after completing the chat.
  • Typing information such as order numbers or name spellings reduces human error and customer annoyance: your employees won’t mispronounce names or have to ask customers to repeat themselves.
  • Customer service employees using chat can often deal with more than one customer at once, unlike customer service over the phone.
  • Chat can be a great adjunct to a customer call center. After all, there are still some users who prefer to speak to live assistance by phone.
  • Chat enables you to maximize your business website. It can be used to direct customers to useful information on the site, making them more educated about what you sell.
  • The cost of providing online chat customer service is typically lower than the cost of providing phone customer service.
  • It’s easier to outsource to overseas customer service centers, since foreign accents will not cause communications issues with customers on chat.

Another good idea is to use an IVR (Interactive Voice Response), a smart system that can interact with your customers over the phone. Nextiva offers the feature within its business phone line platform.

Don’t Scare Your Customers Away

Avoid making these mistakes which can scare your customers away:

Here are six mistakes you might be making with your ecommerce website design.

1. No physical address

Even though pretty much everyone is comfortable ordering online these days, customers still want to see a physical address and phone number on an ecommerce website before they place an order. Knowing that a real business is behind the website gives people confidence they’ll have recourse if something goes wrong. Always be sure to put your business address at the bottom of the home page.

2. Security and privacy concerns

Customers want to know that their financial information is safe with you. Be sure to post your privacy policy where it’s easy to find on your website. Use firewalls, SSL security and secure payment methods that are Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant. Display security certifications and badges prominently, especially on your website’s checkout pages, so customers can shop with confidence.

3. Outdated design

Trends change quickly on the Web, and today’s popular online stores are modern, clean and simple. Outdated looks such as reliance on Flash, colors that were popular in 1994 and cluttered Web pages will brand your ecommerce site as amateurish. If it’s time for a redesign, enlist a professional Web designer or use Web design templates to give your site a fresh look with updated images, fonts, colors and icons.

4. Slow loading times, timeouts and server errors

There’s nothing worse for a customer than completing a lengthy shopping session, going through checkout, clicking “Place My Order” and then having the site time out or losing connection to the server. Be sure your Web host provides uptime guarantees so customers won’t encounter such glitches. Streamline your ecommerce website design and image sizes for fast load times.

5. Hidden shipping costs

Customers want to know what shipment is going to cost to decide if shopping on your site is worth their while. Don’t make them go through checkout to learn the shipping costs—place them clearly on your site or provide a shipping calculator.

Stay forward-thinking

Don’t assume that today’s customer experience will work tomorrow. Keep your eyes on the future and keep up with retail and technology trends so your business is poised to change along with customers’ shopping behaviors.

Monitor your competitors’ contact pages to get notified when they change options or add new ones. Knowing your competitors’ customer experience strategy is a great way to know your niche expectations.

Overall, the growth of ecommerce means both opportunity and challenge for small businesses. You’ve got the opportunity to promote yourself just like a bigger ecommerce retailer would, but you also face the challenge that consumers are increasingly buying on price. That means differentiating yourself via the factors above is crucial.

About the Author

Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty is the Brand and Community manager at as well as the founder of Ann has been into Internet Marketing for more than a decade, she is the former Editor-in-Chief of Search Engine Journal and contributor to prominent search and social blogs including Small Biz Trends and Mashable. Ann is also the frequent speaker at Pubcon and the host of regular Twitter chats #vcbuzz and #myblogu.

User illustrations by Storyset

Leave a Reply