The Big-E’s: How to Improve Your E-commerce Customer Experience

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The nature of the customer experience within e-commerce has never been more vital to the life of a brand than it is at this moment. While e-commerce (buying over the internet) has been growing in leaps and bounds before the pandemic, online shopping quite simply exploded in 2020.

Digital Commerce 360 asked 100 e-commerce executives what their budgetary priorities were for the coming year and 51% reported back that e-commerce platforms were at the top of their list. So while research showed that prior to 2020, 15% of Americans purchased products online at least once a week, and 28% shopped online a few times a month, that number has expanded exponentially with the onset of the pandemic and doesn’t appear to be slowing.

At the close of 2020, e-commerce sales accounted for 14% of all US sales. And while 2020 was a year that had very specific limitations, the e-commerce landscape continues to grow and thrive. At the forefront of this growth and expansion is the customer experience. With a world of options, the ability exists to forge bonds with a brand and cultivate ongoing, consistent consumer loyalty. Successful customer interactions translate to yielding higher profits and position a brand to enjoy success in the long term. E-Commerce customer service trends tell us that consumers value their experience over the goods and services they receive. They expect highly personalized interactions, which demonstrates the importance of actual connection over generic, robotic responses.

How Can You Make the E-Commerce Customer Experience Work

Hands holding mobile phone showing improved ecommerce customer experience

There are several avenues that can not only improve the customer experience but also enhance brand visibility. From social media to return/exchange instructions, to clearly articulated warranties to shipping practices to software solutions to an empowered customer service team, these factors can all make a profound impact on the e-commerce customer experience with your brand.

Leveraging a customer-centric, omnichannel approach for e-commerce retail is one key to addressing service issues, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. An omnichannel solution is not confined to typical business hours or time zones, and helps impart a personalized experience each time the customer engages with a brand. Incorporating digital-first support strategies, like utilizing a chat widget, in-app messaging, and efficient email practices, will ensure that assistance and resolution are just a click away. Helping consumers resolve issues quickly and reducing the need for direct communication vastly improves brand equity and customer loyalty.

When interaction beyond customer self-service support is necessary, an omnichannel approach also empowers your team members. As it relates to unifying customer interactions across disparate communication channels, an omnichannel solution is an ideal way to improve customer experience. However, these days omnichannel is no longer enough. It’s also now imperative for organizations to have a solution that is able to integrate and extract insights quickly to support increasingly complex digital-first e-commerce transactions.  

This will allow you to contextualize data to deliver hyper-personalized support and drive smarter processes that scale your business. The modern customer no longer wants to be treated like a transaction, especially Gen Z consumers. With the right solution, your agents can devote more time delivering a hyper-personalized approach that elevates your customers to feeling as if they’re more than just a transaction.

No matter what stage your e-commerce business is in (whether starting or scaling), it is important to set the foundation for success within your e-commerce customer service team.

Working the System

In addition to enhancing the e-commerce experience by establishing a comprehensive software system, there are other facets that will assist in supporting and bolstering the overall customer experience. Refining and clarifying each step of every interaction, not just the product pages themselves and point of sale, will encourage and maintain those important customer impressions. Avoid hiding or minimizing information that will assist any customer in handling and resolving an issue, even if it is returning a product.

Policy Information: Documentation gives your team a set protocol to refer to when they have questions, as well as seamless access to information needed to answer questions without delay.
Shipping & Delivery Policies: Eliminate second-guessing with clear shipping updates and options as well as delivery notifications.
Exchanges & Returns: Making the policies clear and understandable from the start of the shopping experience will foster customer trust and clarity in the event of a return or exchange.
Warranties: Providing detailed and accurate product information is key. This includes clearly defined specs and descriptions of each item as well as transparent warranty information.

Consumers value brands that are honest and transparent. More and more they are gravitating toward brands that stand for something, have a strong mission or ethos, and share similar values. Social media and messaging channels like WhatsApp and SMS are powerful ways to engage your customers and share your business’ victories, social justice work, and even any brand challenges.

Many organizations now have limited resources and staff at their disposal due to the current macroeconomic environment. When you pair that with a high volume of support inquiries, it’s clear that businesses are facing an efficiency mandate.

Proactive rather than reactive support measures are optimal. Better to anticipate needs rather than be in the position of constantly reacting to complaints or issues.

The E-Normal

E-commerce shopping remains embedded as the primary way to shop for many consumers. It’s become part of our collective lifestyle rather than merely a novel or occasional shopping choice. It is critical that your customers receive quick, personal responses to their questions and issues in order to maintain customer satisfaction and loyalty.

For more tips from the experts, read our free e-book: “The Future of Retail”.

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