Owning and operating a store is all about keeping the customer at the forefront of your business. This is an axiom that holds true for brick and mortar stores as well as for online storefronts. Helping your customers throughout their time with you and keeping them happy in the weeks and months to come are keys to securing and maintaining their patronage.
This is where user experience (UX) and customer service come in. Together, they will take care of your customer as they shop with you, and follow through with this contentment for a long time after the purchasing decision. Let’s take a look at each of them and see how they can help you and your business.
User experience, commonly abbreviated UX, represents the entirety of your service from the point of view of your customer. This pretty much refers to how your customer interacts with your website, mobile platform, and the shopping experience. It involves aspects like your design, visual cues, and functional elements of your online store.
UX is important to your ecommerce website because, let’s face it, you’re up against a lot of competition on the Internet. Smaller online stores like yours are not only competing against giants like Amazon, but against your peers as well.
How do you stand out? You use UX. A virtual experience that can hardly be matched, one that is convenient and easy to use, will easily be remembered. And the benefits are immediately tangible, too—with great UX, you’re essentially making it as simple as possible for customers to spend money on your site.
Crafting a fantastic UX for your ecommerce website is long and intensive work, but there are some ways to easily jump start this process.
This might seem obvious, but you really don’t want your customers navigating away from your product pages when they decide to purchase something. That would be akin to having shoppers at a grocery store going to the front counter every time they took a can of beans from the shelves.
Few feelings are worse than when a customer looks for an item (one that you know that you have) using your built-in search, and then it fails to show up. That is a lost customer. Creating a better search is integral to your site, especially if you have a large inventory. See if you can improve your item indexing to result in subsequently improved search. Or better yet, use a Google Custom Search for your website.
Once you have your customers at checkout, it’s a shame to have them leave because you won’t let them pay in their preferred method. With the proliferation of online shopping, there are now numerous ways to pay. There’s the more traditional credit or debit card, plus payment processors such as Paypal, Amazon, and Google. There’s also the all-digital currency Bitcoin, which is making waves. Keep your customers’ options open.
Customer service is the act of helping the customer throughout their shopping experience, but commonly in the afterglow of their purchase. As such, it goes hand-in-hand with UX, but involves a more human element.
Customer service is essential to your business because of word of mouth. How many times have you or your friends complained on social media about how terrible the service was at a certain restaurant or store? Conversely, positive customer service results in positive word of mouth. If your potential customers know that they’ll be treated right, they will be more likely to shop with you.
The key element about customer service is its presence. Customers like knowing that you are always there for them, ready and willing to address questions and concerns.
Set up a support desk on your site, and have someone there at all hours of the day—the Internet is global, after all, and it never sleeps. Have a live chat service ready for your support team to field customer requests, and provide an FAQ for the most common issues.
Sending out email newsletters has a double effect: it lets your customers know that you are thinking of them, and informs your customers of your newest products and services. In these newsletters, you can also provide special promotions and discounts for your loyal customers.
The best businesses are those that constantly strive to improve, and critiques are important to that process. Send out surveys to your customers, and ask about your store’s strengths and weaknesses. Be open to any criticism, and see whether they are valid and how they can be rectified. If the customer sees that the improvements they suggested have been applied, it imparts to them that you know how to listen.
Customers are the lifeblood of any company. Take the dual tenets of UX and customer service to heart, and you’ll be remembered amongst the sea of startup online stores. How have these techniques helped you in your business? Let us know in the comments below.
Vincent Sevilla is a professional graphic designer and content marketing specialist. He also loves to learn more about photography.