5 Ways to Transform Your Customer Experience

Jun 09, 2016

Article ImageWith new business tools and technology popping up on an almost daily basis, many are asking whether it can truly help brands to deliver the perfect shopping experience and if technology for technology's sake delivers any real value to the consumer.

While some tools and features may be a little over-the-top, here are five things you should definitely consider to assist your customers and ensure you don't get left behind.

Make It Easy For Customers to Find You

The shopping journey often begins before customers even walk through your door. Consumers are increasingly likely to research their options online before making any purchasing decisions - and they don't want to work too hard for it. To win their approval quickly and easily you need to make it as easy as possible for your customers to find your business and the information they want to know, so optimizing your channels for organic search is crucial.

To do this, you'll want to find ways of incorporating into your website and social media profiles the words and phrases your ideal customers are actually using in their searches. You can find out exactly what they're searching for by doing keyword research - if you're short on time Moz published a great guide on keyword research here - and start optimizing your website the right way.

You have much less space to optimize your social media profiles, so choose your keywords carefully and make sure your profiles highlight all of your important website and product/brand/store information. By placing your most important information front and center in a way that customers and search engines can understand, you'll reduce friction in the research stage and increase your chances of being first in line for purchase further down the sales funnel.

Include Customers in the Conversation

It doesn't matter whether you're a fashion, stationery, or water bottle brand, consumers are increasingly using social media for shopping inspiration and research, and you have the opportunity to greatly enhance their browsing experience by promoting yourself the right way. Think of the lifestyle your ideal customers aspire to and how your particular offering fits in the mix. With this in mind, apply the "good, better, best" approach below to build up the many layers your social strategy needs to cultivate your own thriving online community:

Good: Sharing daily inspiration in the form of related news and social commentary from leaders in your niche, as well as your own product and sales information, discount codes, competitions, and events.

Better: Promoting valuable or uncommon shopping tools from your website like wish lists, look books, or even built-in radios and video streaming.

Best: Using social media to actually join in the conversation; this is why you need to be thinking about the overall lifestyle that your customers are aspiring to.

More and more customers, particularly millennials, expect to be part of a two-way conversation with brands, and seek out authenticity, so you'll need to truly live and breathe what you preach. Show you understand and care about what your customers want by conducting polls, replying to comments and posts, answering questions and apologizing for your mistakes, sharing user-generated content and proactively liking and commenting on their posts (that aren't about you) with thoughtful, non-commercial insight and opinion.

Yes, it sounds like a lot of hard work, possibly even bordering on stalking. However, provided you don't come on too strongly, a growing number of consumers want to feel loved by the brands they choose to support. Public platforms are the perfect places to engage with those people as they spend more time interacting with others via these channels as opposed to consuming one-way media like television and magazines.

For example, Ariel Welch, owner of all-natural personal care brand Clean Living Collection, markets her products incredibly well through her Instagram account. Welch nurtures her thriving community by using her knowledge of hashtags like #greenbeauty and #nopoo to seek out and connect with like-minded individuals who might also happen to be interested in her products.

Thrown in with seasonal discount codes and reaching out to selected micro influencers, Welch's approach comes across as gentle, authentic, and worthy of support. In addition to general marketing campaigns, you need to be prepared to win over one customer at a time in today's increasingly fragmented market.

Automate Your Customer Communication

Customers expect a speedy response regardless of the platform they contact you through, and they also expect that the first person they speak to is able to resolve their query. As such, you need to empower employees to help your customers without having to put them on hold to ask a manager for something, transfer them to another department, or worse, promise to get back to them with a resolution in the future.

Ways of empowering your staff can be as simple as granting access to the areas of your business that your frontline customer service team members need to resolve any questions or problems their caller may be having. You can also use call tracking software from providers like Mediahawk that can tell you exactly which marketing campaigns and website activity led a customer to call you, giving you a better idea of what the customer needs before you've even answered the phone.

You can also use live chat tools on your website and monitor your visitors in real-time to learn how and why they're using your website, as well as track your email and social media campaigns to see which emails or posts have been opened and clicked. All of this data and insight allows your sales team to truly personalize the customer experience, and make prospects feel that you can anticipate their needs, offer better service, and strengthen your relationship with your customers.

Offer Your Customers Multiple Ways to Pay

Historically there has been little uptake of card payments by smaller businesses with a mobile aspect to their business--such as appearing at pop-up markets--meaning customers have been restricted to paying by cash. With just under a quarter of adults (24%) now having used their mobile phone to make a payment, customers are becoming increasingly accustomed to transferring money digitally and are even less likely to carry cash than before.

Luckily technology is set to reduce friction for businesses who wish to accommodate consumers wanting to pay for products and services without cash. While Near Field Communication (NFC) like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Amiibo offer one solution for mobile payment, businesses without the scope to invest in those systems, can just as easily set up a PayPal account and allow customers to transfer money via their own accounts.

The more payment options you're able to offer your customers the more able and willing they will be to make an impulse purchase.

Target Your Customers When They Actually Want to Hear From You

Proximity marketing, also known as hyper-local marketing, makes it possible to send marketing messages to mobile devices within a particular locality. For example, you can promote an in-store sale or exclusive discount code to customers on your email database who are in the same shopping center as one of your branches.

You already know these people have an interest in your products and it's been shown that 53% of consumers are willing to share their current location to receive more relevant advertising. What makes proximity marketing even more worth tapping into is that brands like Coca-Cola and Levi's have used the technology via a company called InMarket, which has reported that interactions with advertised products increased 19 times for users who received a beacon message.

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock.)