In just seconds, shoppers can scroll hundreds of online stores to try and find what they’re looking for. A simple Google search unlocks a seemingly endless list of brands and businesses offering similar services, products, styles, price-points, and more. Standing out in ecommerce is no longer a matter of being the only store to provide a certain product. Instead, differentiation has boiled down to how a store treats its shoppers. In other words, it’s all about the customer experience.
People are looking for a company that provides the best experience. But what exactly makes an ecommerce brand’s experience good? Is it the quality of the website? The product offering? The prices? Or does it come down to something as basic as the brand’s color palette or font selection?
While the customer experience is affected by all of that to some degree, there are additional factors to consider that are less tangible, like customer care, support, transparency, and brand mission. Then consider the facets outside of your control—like package delivery through a third-party carrier.
In such a competitive ecommerce market, it’s crucial for companies to provide that remarkable experience throughout the entire buying journey, especially regarding the experiences that are tough to quantify or control. Sleek websites, gimmicky ads, and the like are not enough to differentiate and earn coveted customer loyalty. Let’s dig deeper into the value of the customer experience and how the secret to standing out may be something you haven’t considered.
The Difference Between Customer Support and Customer Experience
The term “customer experience” gets tossed around a lot in ecommerce strategies and playbooks. As much as the term is used as an umbrella over its many intertwining characteristics, it’s not to be confused with another critical touchpoint; customer support.
Customer support refers to the service or support you provide your customers—whether it be through human interaction or digital channels—and is a very small part of the customer experience. Support can happen along any part of the customer journey from pre-purchase questions about a product to help given if something goes wrong.
On the other hand, customer experience (CX) refers to “the customer’s perceptions and related feelings caused by the one-off and cumulative effect of interactions with a supplier’s employees, systems, channels, and products.” Unlike isolated instances of one-on-one support, the overall experience is every interaction a customer has with your brand, including:
- Shipping variety and convenience
- Authentic engagement
- Customer service
- Sales campaigns
- Product reliability
- Advertising and marketing
- Purchase protection
- Package tracking
- Proactive communication
- Ease of issue resolution
Each of these factors shapes how your customers feel about your brand. Should a customer have a negative experience with any one of these factors, it could be disastrous for your brand.
The Role and Value of Customer Service within the Entire Experience
As previously mentioned, the modern customer is making more buying decisions because of the brand experience. Salesforce reported that 80% of customers stated the experience a business provides is just as important as their products and services. Additionally, PWC research found that 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience.
The experience you provide your customers can either make or break how big your business can scale. For example, United Airlines lost $1.4 billion in value overnight after a negative interaction with the brand went viral on a customer’s social media account. On the flip side, Netflix went from 21.5 subscribers in 2011 to nearly 160 million in 2019 after providing more personalized experiences on the platform.
Every interaction a customer has with your brand impacts your customer experience, which is why it’s so important to ensure they have a seamless experience from start to finish. Here are just some of the ways a strong CX benefits your online store:
- Improves customer loyalty and retention rates
- Increases competitive advantage
- Boosts customer acquisition and conversions
- Reduces overall costs of service and marketing
- Enhances customer engagement
- Strengthens your crisis management strategy
- Increases revenue and loyalty
- Boosts brand awareness and sentiment
While building a great customer experience is one of the easiest ways to get ahead in a competitive market, it only takes one bad interaction to negatively impact your CX. One of the most common ways this occurs is through customer service channels.
Today’s customers demand great support. They expect to be able to contact you for support—anytime, anywhere, and from any device. Additionally, customers expect to receive fast, consistent support across your entire organization, which is why many organizations are shifting to an omnichannel approach. It only takes one negative interaction with your customer support center to permanently lose a customer and drive future ones away.
The interactions your team has when a customer reaches out are crucial to earning the trust and support of that person. Consider the threshold at which someone reaches out to customer service. In almost every instance, that shopper needs assistance in some way or another. Whether they have a question about the fit or size of a shirt, want to know more about sourcing or sustainability, want to clarify refunds and returns, or are reaching out after getting a broken item, one thing is for sure—tensions are high.
The most important part of turning an urgent and tense service question into a good experience is how the support team treats the customer. Much like the rest of a brand’s experience, customers need to be treated like real, live people. If they feel like they’re being brushed off, invalidated, or disregarded entirely, that bad experience could rupture into dozens of negative tweets, reviews, emails, and more. That one churned customer could turn into 20 of their friends and family before you know it.
While customer service is just one portion of the entire experience, it could be the link that sends the whole relationship crashing down if done poorly. Unlike website design or payment options or other parts of the CX, customer service is a uniquely close interaction with customers. It’s typically a one-on-one, human-to-human conversation during a moment in the journey where emotions run high. No matter what industry you’re in, creating a seamless experience and providing consistent customer support is what keeps your customers coming back for more.
How to Ensure Better Service for the Best Experience
So, how can you ensure your ecommerce brand is meeting—or hopefully exceeding—customers’ high expectations? Exceeding modern expectations means genuinely connecting with your customers at every stage of their journey with your brand, from acquisition and on-site shopping to checkout and the customer service requirements that follow. Aside from the standard chatbots or call centers, though, it can be hard to optimize customer service so that it fully adds to a great overall experience.
With a post-purchase experience platform like Route, you can avoid all the pitfalls associated with poor customer service, including low customer retention rates. Our platform turns service and support from a cold and lengthy process and turns it into an integrated and instant part of the brand experience.
For example, the Route app features near-instant claim resolution, meaning customers aren’t waiting in never-ending customer support queues or waiting hours (or even days) to get answers about their packages. Even if a package is lost, stolen, or damaged, you and your customers are alerted immediately. This allows you to take action quickly and avoid a potentially negative experience.
Route also provides customers with real-time updates about their package directly from their laptop, phone, or tablet. This helps to increase your customer loyalty and retention, as they’ll know they have complete visibility over where their stuff is at all times. Plus, real-time visibility helps to decrease the number of “Where’s my package?” questions your support team gets, allowing them to focus on more important tasks.
Supplementing your customer experience with a tool that finally empowers customers to have full order transparency and customer support at their fingertips eases tension, anxiety, and negative feelings that generally surround the service experience.
Prioritize Customer Service to Win on Customer Experiences
Even if the rest of your customer experience is buttoned up and ready to go, a tarnished customer support system could be enough to sour the whole journey and drive shoppers away. Instead of viewing customer service as a necessary evil or afterthought, see it as an opportunity to provide memorable support and earn long-term customer loyalty with every interaction.
Using a post-purchase platform like Route is a fool-proof way to exceed customer expectations. Route’s package protection, instant issue resolution, and on-demand visual tracking are features that make any brand a customer service dream. Adding Route to your experience strategy empowers your shoppers and your team in ways that were previously reserved for enterprise-level companies with thousands of employees and deep pockets.
Instead of putting service on the back burner, bring it to the forefront and create even more opportunities to connect authentically with customers even if they’re coming to you with an initially negative experience. Next time you’re looking for ways to differentiate and compete with an outstanding customer experience, start by improving your customer service.