An excellent customer experience isn’t just nice to have — it’s critical. For your business to flourish, you have to provide engaging technology, design, and customer service touch points throughout the entire experience.
To compete in a crowded marketplace, it’s crucial to nail these opportunities. Not sure where to start? The following 20 tips are exactly what you need to improve e-commerce customer experiences:
- Enhance website navigation.
Most e-commerce companies recognize the importance of an attractive website, but the leaders look beyond the homepage. Include a navigation menu and search box to help quickly connect customers with the products and information they’re looking for.
- Start a multichannel strategy.
Multichannel marketing doesn’t just drive sales — it offers a better experience for your customers. Write blog posts to help educate your audience about your products, and establish a brand presence across multiple communication channels to make interactions easy and fun.
- Forecast inventory needs.
No customer wants to make a purchase only to find out the item they want is out of stock or on back order for weeks. That means it’s up to you to accurately forecast your inventory levels so that you can order more items before you run out. It’s also important to factor into your forecast potential supply chain delays, whether they’re caused by inclement weather, resource scarcity, or something else entirely.
- Offer live chat.
Most e-commerce companies offer email support, but live chat gives customers the opportunity to have their questions answered immediately. When you use a live chat session to address a customer concern without delay, you remove an obstacle and encourage them to make a purchase.
- Provide 24-hour phone support.
The days of 9-to-5 support are over. Having a support window requires customers to look up time zone information, put off a call, and generally wait to have their needs met. With 24-hour phone support, you can provide the prompt service customers want regardless of when they need it or where they’re calling from.
- Optimize and automate order fulfillment.
When customers place an order, they expect quick confirmation that the order was received. If sending this confirmation is a manual process, it’s one that can slip through the cracks and start the relationship off on the wrong foot. Automate any order fulfillment notices to ensure that they happen quickly and effectively.
- Sell via brand storytelling.
Branding is essential, whether you want to get noticed or leave a lasting impression. Great storytelling helps customers buy into your brand and care about your company, and it’s the beginning of a quality relationship that provides a superlative customer experience.
- Find gaps in your order management processes.
If an order is placed online but the product(s) aren’t immediately subtracted from your inventory, there’s a glaring gap in your order management process that could result in orders that can’t be shipped. Look for these and other gaps and eliminate them to make order management as seamless as possible.
- Connect and engage with mobile customers.
Eighty percent of Americans shop online, and more than half have made a purchase on a mobile device. If your e-commerce presence doesn’t include mobile customers, you’re missing out on a significant growing audience. Optimize your website and communication for mobile and watch the orders come in.
- Use customer service software.
When customers can contact your company via phone, email, live chat, and messaging apps, it’s difficult to manage all the conversations effectively. The right customer service software can help you organize interactions and create a smart service portal that meets all kinds of customer needs. According to thinkJar’s Esteban Kolsky, as much as 85% of customer churn is preventable when poor service is involved, so don’t let it be a weak point.
- Measure customer satisfaction.
You can’t optimize and improve customer service if you don’t know how you’re currently doing. Benchmark your customer satisfaction rates before you implement improvements, and then take another measurement after you’ve put service systems in place. By calculating the improvement in customer sentiment, you can set goals, identify obstacles, and improve the ROI of future initiatives.
- Show billing history.
Regardless of the payment method they use, customers will want to know when charges go through. You should automatically send out an email receipt with relevant information and billing details, and credit card charges should include your company name or other information that makes them clearly identifiable.
- Set up a knowledge base.
Creating a knowledge base is a great way to help those customers that would rather help themselves. Have your team members who are most familiar with your products put together articles that demonstrate fun ways to use them. This content won’t just help current customers: It will attract new ones by making your website easier to find.
- Post and share your FAQs.
If you have lots of customers with the same questions, creating a frequently asked questions page is a great way to manage your service volume and provide valuable information to your audience. FAQs can include contact information, terms and conditions, warranty specifics, and basic product instructions.
- Offer easy returns.
Hassle-free returns and exchanges help give your customers the confidence they need to make a purchase. Provide a prepaid return shipping label with each item and make refunds as rapid as possible. If you can’t accept returns for some products, make sure you clearly state that the sale is final.
- Honor your warranties.
Warranties demonstrate your own confidence in your products, so it’s a good idea to make them as comprehensive as reasonably possible. If you offer a three-year warranty and a competitor offers a much shorter one, most customers will pay extra for the peace of mind. Make sure warranty terms are clear and easy to understand to avoid confusion.
- Scale for seasonal demand.
There’s a good chance that your full-time, year-round staff can’t handle the demands of the holiday shopping season, but it’s critical to make a good impression during those months. Bring on additional service personnel to help manage the load and deliver a superior experience during any upticks in demand.
- Provide walkthrough videos.
Explainer videos can offer information about your products, but they also increase brand awareness and help you market your company. Create a library of video content and repurpose it whenever possible to increase ROI.
- Make customer service proactive.
Many companies wait until a customer is having a problem to step in and help, but this approach means interactions only occur when customers are frustrated and disappointed. Adopt a proactive approach to customer service by sending informative videos, instruction manuals, and customer service contact information in the event of an issue. Proactive service will improve loyalty and keep customers coming back.
- Minimize checkout hurdles.
Cart abandonment can be a struggle for even the most successful e-commerce companies, so it’s critical to minimize hassle during checkout. Offering free shipping, accepting all major payment methods, and letting your customers check out without creating an account are all important ways to maximize conversions.
There was a time when e-commerce was criticized for being impersonal. Today, the convenience of shopping online has clearly overcome that obstacle, but that doesn’t mean you can put the customer experience on the back burner. Great service is an investment that can yield massive returns over time, so it’s imperative to improve e-commerce customer experiences as soon as possible.