In the modern world of online business, the eCommerce customer journey can be the pivotal turning point on which your business succeeds or fails. It’s essential both for attracting new customers and building long-term relationships with existing ones. A great customer experience provides the social proof necessary for businesses to gain a good reputation via word-of-mouth.
Every eCommerce prospect has a customer journey. Even if all they do is browse your site, they still leave with an impression of your company. Organizations with the best customer service performance make even the most minor interactions pleasant for the customer.
As we move towards an increasingly online world, delivering a high-quality customer experience is becoming yet more critical. More than half of customer service managers say that the value of customer service has increased over the last year, and 50% of customers agree that they focus on the customer experience more now than they did a year ago.
Optimizing your eCommerce customer journey encourages prospects to enjoy interacting with your business and spend time and money on your site.
What Is the eCommerce Customer Journey?
It’s easy to think of the customer experience as just the live interactions you have with customers when they require support or provide feedback. But CX actually encompasses the entire eCommerce journey. This includes pre-purchase, from when they first become aware of your product/service to purchase, and post-purchase experiences.
To boost your customer CX performance, it can be helpful to think of customer service in terms of an eCommerce customer journey map. This will give you greater visibility over all the potential interactions a customer could have with your company and how you can improve these.
The usual flow of the eCommerce customer journey usually goes something like this:
- Awareness – the customer is introduced to the brand
- Consideration – they consider whether or not to make a purchase
- Purchase – they make a purchase
- Loyalty – they use the product, perhaps purchase additional products/services, and sometimes seeking guidance from the provider
- Advocacy – they spread the word about products/services
Why Is the eCommerce Customer Journey Important?
The eCommerce customer journey is an integral part of customer relationship development. With modern technology, customers have access to a whole world of choices. Businesses that deliver a better customer experience throughout will gain and keep customers, while the sub-par will see high churn rates.
It also enables businesses to take a holistic approach to customer relations. Understanding your customer journey means that you’re aware of where your customers are experiencing pain points. These are parts of the process that are slow, confusing, or otherwise uncomfortable for the consumer and could cause them to abandon your company.
As your customers move through the stages in their eCommerce journey, their relationships with your company will evolve. The eCommerce customer journey allows you to track data gathered from customers’ online experiences to build profiles so that you can tailor experiences to them better and build and reinforce relationships, which, in turn, will create a loyal customer base.
Optimizing Your eCommerce Customer Journey
For better CX performance, you must work to optimize your eCommerce customer journey. If you can ensure that customers feel more comfortable interacting with your company than your competitors, you can be sure to win their loyalty.
As mentioned above, the best way to optimize your customer journey is to collect accurate data about what that journey involves for each type of customer. With that data, you can tailor your customer service to appeal to your demo.
Focus On Forecasting Demand
To make a profit, you must ensure you have enough stock to sell but not so much that there’s stock sitting around tying up capital. Forecasting demand allows you to predict future trends and provision for these precisely.
It’s particularly useful when used alongside an inventory tracking system, as this will enable you to hold exactly as much stock as you need. Holding an appropriate amount of stock at all times reduces the financial risk for your business while still providing fast service.
This results in a smoother customer journey, as customers will never be kept waiting for a product, and you won’t lose their business to competitors. When you provide consistent service, customers know what to expect.
Once you’ve collected your data, you can analyze it to scope out short or long-term trends or passive and active demand. This will allow you to discern if customers would respond well to more products within a certain niche.
Use an Inventory Tracking System
You can also use tools such as an inventory tracking system to ensure you have an accurate picture of your stock. Customers prioritize convenience, so if the items they want are out of stock, they’re likely to take their business elsewhere.
This is where inventory tracking software is helpful. By keeping a real-time record of your stock, you can avoid delays for the customer. Inventory tracking streamlines stock counts and frees up employees for customer-facing tasks.
Offer Consistent Omnichannel Experiences
In today’s online world, it’s likely that your customers will interact with your company using multiple channels throughout their customer journey. It’s vital to sync up each of the platforms your customers use so that they can switch between these seamlessly at whim.
If a customer calls support to discuss an issue they’d raised on Twitter, they shouldn’t have to repeat themselves. All the complaints across different platforms like social media, email, or phone support system should be logged in a centralized helpdesk so that they can simply pick up where they left off.
High-performing companies are more likely to offer consistent cross-channel support to their customers, and this consistency is reflected in their better CX performances.
Provide a Personalized Experience
The best customer service relies on an accurate understanding of each customer’s individual journey. By tracking data at each point in the customer journey, your company has the opportunity to provide personalized customer service.
This might take the form of tailored adverts, predictive search tools, or specific product suggestions based on past purchases. Your company might also offer live chat with customer service representatives, a 24/7 helpline, and tailored post-purchase support.
Make Transactions Effortless
65% of customers value speed and simplicity in their online transactions, so you must make the checkout process as straightforward as possible. Ensure that your checkout page is glitch-free and that you offer a vast array of payment options.
You should also make sure that no surprise fees are added at this point. Unexpected shipping fees are a sure-fire way to spoil an up-to-now great customer experience.
Ask For Feedback
Listen to your customers! At various points in the eCommerce customer journey, there are opportunities to ask for feedback. This will tell you exactly where the sticking points are in your customer service. Asking customers for their opinions also makes them feel heard and valued.
Asking for feedback could be as simple as a yes or no, “did you find what you were looking for today?” question at the bottom of your webpage, or an option to rate the service as the customer leaves the site. But if you can convince customers to provide more detailed feedback, it can be incredibly valuable to improving your customer service.
To encourage customers to provide feedback, you can offer incentives such as prize draws and coupons. You should also make customers aware of the exact time it’ll take for them to complete your survey and ensure to express your gratitude for their help.
Thanking the customer for their time helps build a reciprocal relationship, where the customer feels invested in your business and, therefore, loyal.
Don’t Forget the Post-purchase Experience
Just because you’ve made the sale doesn’t mean the customer journey has reached its conclusion. By continuing to offer excellent customer service after purchase, you will remain at the forefront of customer’s thoughts and are therefore more likely to push customers to the final loyalty and advocacy stages of the customer lifecycle.
Beyond offering high-quality support, the post-purchase experience includes maintaining an active social media account, designing actionable content like interactive polls for new products that bring customers into the design process, or emailing loyal customers about exclusive sales and offers.
A Better Customer Journey Means Better CX Performance
Delivering a better CX performance means a more successful company. Customers value businesses that take the time to build relationships. Understanding the eCommerce customer journey is essential for optimizing customer service.
There are lots of tools and techniques available for companies who wish to improve their customer journey. Using these tools to track the customer lifecycle, alongside gathering customer feedback and providing a seamless omnichannel experience, is a foolproof recipe for the best CX performance.