Online Customer Experience
Online Customer Experience
Before starting explaining the importance of online customer experience, it is necessary to make two clarifications. The word “application” is going to be mentioned a lot. Therefore, it is important to specify that it can have a double meaning. In fact, we can refer to the applications launched by companies and used by customers, which are the end users; alternatively, we can refer to those application used by the employees of a company (e.g. CRM, ERP systems). In this context, we’ll consider both of them.
As for applications used within a company, during the last decades, enterprises have focused on Information Technology (IT) and implemented various applications to automate their business processes. These applications were not developed in a coordinated way but have evolved as a result of the latest technological innovation. The IT infrastructure in several organizations consists of autonomous and in many cases heterogeneous solutions. This situation has caused various integration problems as applications could not cooperate and disparate IT solutions could not bind together.
These type of applications were introduced into companies to solve various organizational problems, and to provide an integrated infrastructure. Although – for example – ERP packages offer advantages to enterprises, they have not achieved many of their anticipated benefits. Autonomous and heterogeneous applications still co-exist in companies with those systems and integration problems have not been addressed.
There are many customers that have experienced glitches, degradations, bugs, anomalies, slowdowns and issues with their application deployment, which ruin the system performance. The main consideration with any company system is that it is completely intertwined and interconnected with companies’ process and productivity. For example, ERP Systems – like SAP, Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics, Infor, Epicor, Workday, etc. – touch, interact or control processes within a company such as:
- Financial Systems and Planning;
- Supply Chain;
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM);
- Human Resources;
- Manufacturing and Shipping;
- Materials Handling/Inventory;
- Order confirmations/customer notifications via e-mail.
With regard to the applications used by end users, the success of an app is contingent on a number of different factors; however, the most important one is the user experience. Delivering a quality user experience will make the difference between a successful mobile app and one that fails in the market. Without a good UX, an application can’t satisfy users and exceed their expectations.
Mobile users now demand a lot more from apps to keep them coming back after the initial download.
Mobile users engage with their devices at crucial moments and only for short periods. Their experiences need to be personalized, efficient and enjoyable in order to keep them engaged and ensure their continued use of such items. Mobile is no longer about technology, but rather a lifestyle. 90% of time spent on a mobile smart device is behind apps (10% on a web browser) and that time equates to more than 200 mobile moments per day per Forrester, adding up to 30 billion ‘mobile moments’ occurrences per day in the U.S., for example.
A bad mobile experience can do serious damage to your brand and end up in business losses. According to WOW Local Marketing, 52% of customers are less likely to engage with the company because of bad customer experience.
That’s why 84% of companies claim themselves to be focused on the customer experience. It’s no longer a question of whether the mobile experience is important or not. In 2017 mobile search generated 27.8 billion more queries than desktop search. However, it seems that companies have been a bit slow to adapt, with 90% of customers saying they have had poor experience seeking customer support on mobile, according to Software Advice. This is a gap that needs to be taken care of, as more than 65% of customers aged 18-44 use mobile to seek for service more than once a month.
Customer expectations are being shaped by their digital experiences in every field – e.g. banking: today’s banking customers expect a consistent online experience across any channel, on any device, at any time. Today’s banking customers are using hundreds of different devices, browsers, and networks. Depending on network congestion, page response times can be 50% slower than a competitor’s page.
A poor mobile experience is the leading cause of abandonment.
The second clarification is referred to the area of customer experience – obviously mentioned while talking about applications – that is very wide and considers different connected aspects, which, if well-structured by companies, take to customers’ satisfaction. On one hand, there is customers’ perception of how the company treats them. These perceptions affect their behaviors and build memories and feelings and may drive their loyalty. In other words: if they like you and continue to like you, they are going to do business with you and to recommend you to the others. On the other hand, customer experience can refer to the activities done in the background, in order to assure a high-quality service. In our case, the latter is the interested area.
Anyway, it doesn’t matter what kind of business you’re in – improving the experience for your customers is the key to increasing retention, satisfaction and sales. If you want your customers to stay loyal, you have to invest in the user experience.
As according to a Walker study, by the year 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator; 86% of buyers will pay more for better customer experience.
Customer experience management (CEM) is essential to improve customer service processes and provides qualitative insight by capturing, replaying, and analyzing individual user interaction data showing:
- All UI (User Interface) interactions;
- Error messages encountered;
- The identity of impacted visitors;
- “In page” context (including dynamic personalized experiences).
Customer experience management solutions provide unprecedented visibility into the online customer experience. With these solutions, you can see the way your website and/or your application work through the eyes of each, individual customer.
CEM is useful because it increases revenues, removing site experience obstacles to improving conversion rates, and quantifying the business impact of any given issue for more effective prioritization. Customer experience management can also reduce customer churn, quickly seeing and understanding customer issues for a faster and more effective resolution.
A recent survey of nearly 500 business professionals working for companies involved in e-commerce and e-business indicates that companies are losing as much as 23% of their entire annual online revenues from providing poor experiences to their online customers. One would assume that a loss of this magnitude would be a wake-up call to e-businesses. However, most companies lack the tools and processes to truly understand online customer experience and, therefore, don’t know what they’re missing.
Organizations must first gain insight into the experience they provide. They must identify the issues that are most impactful to their bottom lines and remedy them quickly to minimize the number of customers affected by the problems.
Customer online retention is a great challenge. For example, a guy might stop by the same flower shop on his way home each night because it’s so convenient, but what’s to keep him from switching from one online flower vendor to another? According to the Econsultancy study, there is much opportunity for companies across industries to get a leg up on the competition by providing superior customer experience. A mere 4% of the businesses participating in the survey rated their understanding of the online customer experience as “excellent.” Worse still, over three-fourths of companies in the study said they have “limited” or “no understanding” of why customers leave the site without converting (81%) or abandon shopping carts (78%). This last statistic is especially meaningful, as it indicates a lack of insight where it’s needed the most – at the bottom of the online sales funnel.
How do most companies learn about applications issues, then? The majority are unaware of problems until they hear about them from angry customers. According to the study, 76% of e-businesses are most likely to discover applications problems as a result of calls to their customer service teams or from the emails they receive from customers. This is certainly not ideal, this business of treating customers as a quality assurance team. A far better practice would be to proactively discover the things that cause customers to struggle online in order to minimize the impact those issues have on the business.
With significant revenue gains and much-sought-after online customer loyalty hanging in the balance, the companies that understand online issues and journeys and cater to their online customers will be best positioned to succeed in their markets. A customer journey map is a very simple idea: a diagram that illustrates the steps your customer(s) go through in engaging with your company, whether it be a product, an online experience, retail experience, or a service, or any combination. The more touchpoints you have, the more complicated – but necessary – such a map becomes. Sometimes customer journey maps are “cradle to grave,” looking at the entire arc of engagement. In other cases, journey maps are used to look at very specific customer-company interactions (website interactions).
All organizations must know that great customer experience attracts customers, enhances loyalty and drives revenue. Customers have very little patience when pages don’t load fast, when they don’t find relevant content, when they find differing content across channels, when the interaction on desktop is different compared to customer service, when they are not able to search, when certain actions take more than a few clicks to fulfill their goals, on and on – any of these is just enough reason for customer to jump to competitors.
Stats tell stories and predict where the market is headed. According to Gartner, more than 50% of organizations are redirecting their investments to customer experience innovations. The reason for this new trend is that emerging technology plays a big role in firms’ profitability and their customers’ digital experiences. Yet enterprises struggle with the speed of new technology delivery.
82% of companies view the customer experience as a competitive differentiator, and view accuracy and quality of information provided (82%), as well as ease of interaction (73%), as the most important attributes of a quality customer experience.
All of these are important indicators of the importance of
Have you ever wondered what people do when they visit your site or when users use your application? Are they accomplishing what they came for? Did they have a positive experience while they were there? Would they recommend your site to a friend or a colleague?
When your mobile experience is optimized for functionality and consistency, it fosters trust and affinity with users. On the other hand, if your mobile website is difficult to navigate customers are more likely to go to the competition than to visit you on a desktop computer. If you can’t provide what they need when they need it you will have lost the opportunity for the sale and risk losing a customer permanently to a competitor.
What a company should do, is a health check:
- Does it load in less than three seconds?
- Does it draw your eye to your key selling points or message?
- Is the content easy to read?
- Is it easy to navigate?
- Is it easy to recognize and activate the call to action?
- Does it provide a good user experience?
- Is it a website you would spend time if it was not your own?