The perfect customer experience is like the Mona Lisa: most people know what it looks like, but not everyone can replicate it. The truth is, when you strip the customer experience down to its components and focus on making each of those work well, you’ll find that it’s not actually so hard to give your customers the best.
Generally, when we think about the customer experience, we think of the website because that is what they see. In the grand scheme, however, having a great looking website without the logistics to fulfil orders is almost a waste. Likewise, fantastic logistics will never be tested if no orders come through your shoddy website. This is why it’s good to separate the customer experience into three main components - website, logistics, and communication - and understand how each of them can be optimised.
Optimising the website
Perhaps you’re not the kind of person who gets put off by a misused apostrophe or a spelling mistake, but for every person that doesn’t mind this there is another on whom such mistakes grate, and they will not hesitate to hit the back button. If you’re going to put time and money into producing copy on your website then why would you allow it to be sub-par?
Every part of your site should be word-perfect, not just the blog; the home page, the product copy, and every instance that more than two words are strung together needs to be carefully chosen.
No hidden information
When visiting an eCommerce website, generally customers want to be able to access three key pieces of information: delivery details, returns policy, and contact number or address. Earlier this year, a study of 1,000 people found that 42% would move to a competitor’s website if they couldn’t find the information they were looking for. That is almost half of your customer-base. Instead of thinking about this as a loss, consider it in terms of potential gain. If you’re missing crucial information on your website and you’re currently handling around 800 orders a day, you could potentially double your sales by making a quick change.
Simple to navigate
Mazes are fun if they’re in colouring books or grown out of corn or box hedges. Having your website mapped out like a maze does not hold the same amount of charm, however. This doesn’t just refer to finding things on your site, though that is important and should be simple. It also refers to the checkout because poor navigation here is what leads to basket abandonment.
Some common flaws at the checkout that scare customers off are forcing them to create an account early on; having ten pages of forms to fill out; and not disclosing additional costs until they reach the final step before paying.
The best way to identify and combat these issues is to work through your website as a customer would. Another idea is to visit a site you like ordering from and see what it is they do well.
Optimising the logistics
The only way you’re going to be able to despatch your orders quickly is by making sure that every process within your warehouse is streamlined. The best and most efficient way to do this is by implementing warehouse management software that is suitable for the demands of eCommerce. Once your processes, from Goods In to Despatch are working at their best, you will be shipping orders out with regular pace that’ll please your customers.
So, you’ve sent the item out as fast as you could which is great. The only problem is that one of your pickers misidentified the navy polo shirt and picked a slate-grey polo shirt instead. This is not what your customer wanted and now they have the hassle of a return and a refund or exchange. You can also bet that this mix up has encouraged them to leave a not-too-pleasant review on Trustpilot or the like.
Even the very best pickers the world has ever seen are prone to making mistakes because they’re human, and the only way to efficiently avoid these errors is to automate your processes.
Perhaps you’ve made a mistake like the above example. Or maybe the customer received their pea-green maxi dress in perfect condition but the outfit doesn’t match the red shoes they wanted to wear. No matter the reason, a return is required. If you are confident that all of the above features are solid then that means your returns details are listed clearly for the customer to find - but how good is your warehouse at handling them?
Most customers will want free returns but if you’re not in a position to provide that it isn’t likely to burn any bridges. What will cause complaints is if a customer has to pay for their return and then wait four weeks for their bank account to be credited with a refund because you have a mountain of unchecked returns in your warehouse.
This isn’t just bad for the customer, either, because those unchecked returns could be resaleable but the longer they’re left, the more sales opportunities you miss. If you can’t automate your refund process then at the very least you should have a member of staff dedicated to working through them.
Catering to your international customers requires a few changes to your UK-based ones. A few of the things you need to consider when taking your eCommerce business global are multi-lingual support, customs, long-distance returns, and payment methods. It is not going to be an easy process but taking time to think of the details when it comes to your foreign customers will go a long way to promoting your brand in a positive way.
Too many companies seems to believe that keeping their customers in the loop is a courtesy and not a necessity. In some regards, perhaps it is, but when it comes to eCommerce and you’re fighting to be the retailer-of-choice among thousands of others, doing everything you can to stand out as something more is important.
It might be that you don’t send any emails to your customers, or that you send a despatch confirmation only. If you’re pitted against a rival company that lets their customer know when their order has been received, when it’s been picked, when it was despatched, and again stating what day it will be delivered, who is likely to earn the brownie points?
If a customer has to return their order you should make it as easy as possible for them to do so. Having a printed returns label, for instance, included in the package makes their life much easier. ASOS are a company that does this well as they include easy to follow instructions for their returns in every package.
There are generally three mediums for communicating with a company today: email, phone, or post. What the customer wants out of this is a fast response. Posting a letter is, let’s be honest, never going to get you a quick reply. Email is often quite good but there is usually a generic ‘expect a response in 3-5 working days’ clause. That leaves the phone which holds the risk of subjecting your customers to that dreaded hold music for ten minutes before they’re connected with a human.
For those little questions that your customers don’t want to wait an eternity for, live chat systems are great, and giving them this faster option might just stop them heading to another site instead.
The most important thing to remember in eCommerce is that every single touchpoint with the customer is a test that you can either beat or fail. Whether you’re shipping internationally or just within your own country, the reputation of your brand is on the line with every sale so you need to consider every component of the customer experience and ensure that it is as good as it can be.
About the guest author
Jess Lawrence is the Content Creator at Peoplevox. It is her role to update the blog with tips, tricks, and best practice when it comes to all things warehouse related in order to help eCommerce companies scale their operations effectively.
Peoplevox is the leading software-as-a-service warehouse management system provider for eCommerce. Recognising how unsuitable traditional software was for eCommerce, Peoplevox helps companies scale up and compete with Amazon-quality logistics. We have built an international client base of over 100 eCommerce warehouses, including Barbour, Oliver Bonas and Mothercare.
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