The Online Customer Experience

Knowing your customers and knowing how to best serve them will ultimately determine your business’ success and longevity.

Knowing your customers and knowing how to best serve them will ultimately determine your business’ success and longevity.
DON’T FORGET: happy customers are paying customers.

Think about your favorite restaurant. Why do you keep going back there to the point where you and the staff are all on a first-name basis with each other? Is it the food? The ambiance? The prices? The way they always greet you with a warm welcome? It could be all of the above. In retail, all of those factors combined help make up the customer experience.

The customer experience is, as defined by Garner, “the customer’s perceptions and related feelings caused by the one-off and cumulative effect of interactions with a supplier’s employees, systems, channels or products.” In other words, it’s how well–or how poorly–a customer is treated throughout every step of the buyer’s journey, from the moment they walk through the front door of the storefront to when they leave.

Some Customer Experience Statistics

Last month, Digital Commerce 360 and Bizrate Insights conducted a survey of 1,107 online shoppers. Online shoppers were asked to rate such topics as their overall online shopping experiences, which aspects were most important in determining their experiences in both the positive and negative, and what areas could use improvement.

Key findings from this survey:

  • Strong shopper satisfaction among desktop, mobile, and shopping app users.
  • Shoppers appreciate a fast and easy checkout.
  • Shopper frustration not specific to a singular universal aspect.
  • Detailed product descriptions and images influence the purchase decision.
  • Shoppers like personalization options.
  • Top-quality customer service with punctual resolve is most important.

Strong Shopper Satisfaction Among Desktop, Mobile, and Shopping App Users

Strong Shopper Satisfaction Among Desktop, Mobile, and Shopping App Users

Desktop users show the highest numbers for customer satisfaction, but those for mobile web browsers and shopping apps are not far behind. Because desktop Internet browsing has been around far longer than mobile use, online retailers have figured out how to provide the optimal online shopping experience through their website’s design and functionalities. Ergo, shoppers are more comfortable using a desktop to do their purchasing. Shoppers are satisfied with website efficiency; 41% of those surveyed cited load speed performance as having the most influence on their ranks, 38% listed easy navigation, 37% praised the search functions, but simple checkout was the most important with 62% of the respondents.

Less than 1 in 3 surveyed shoppers found their expectations met in these categories:

  • Cart access across multiple devices (27%).
  • Remembering selections and previously-visited locations (23%).
  • Quick category overview (20%).
  • Quick brand/retailer overview (15%).

Shoppers Appreciate a Fast and Easy Checkout

Shoppers Appreciate a Fast and Easy Checkout

When asked to list which aspects met or exceeded expectations, there were 5 that were overwhelmingly common among the shoppers surveyed by Digital Commerce 360 and Bizrate Insights. Fast and easy checkout process (62%), inventory transparency or the ability to see if an item is in stock (44%), fast website loading speed (41%), intuitive navigation (38%), and efficient search (37%) were the leading aspects that were either met or exceeded in the opinions of the surveyed group of 1,107.

Shoppers want inventory transparency

Inventory transparency was also held in high regard among the surveyed consumers. They also felt that retailers were not prioritizing inventory transparency enough. 51% of shoppers want retailers to provide stock status at the product page or, as listed by 46% of shoppers, in the search results. Shoppers also want retailers to remove out-of-stock items from their site to provide better accuracy in regards to what is actually available for purchase. 38% said that retailers should note products that have lead times of 1-month and 33% requested clear omnichannel options to alert shoppers to available channels.

Shopper Frustration Not Specific to a Singular Universal Aspect

Shopper Frustration Not Specific to a Singular Universal Aspect

6 of 7 online shoppers surveyed had voiced frustration with retail websites but there was no singular universal factor that frustrated more than 30% of them. Malfunctioning promo codes or promo codes that refused to apply in the shopping cart led the list of shopper frustrations at 30%, followed by out-of-stock items appearing in search results at 27%, 25% stated unclear shipping costs prior to checkout, insufficient product images at 24%, and 23% of those surveyed took issue with slow website loading performance.

Detailed Product Descriptions and Images Influence the Purchase Decision

Detailed Product Descriptions and Images Influence the Purchase Decision

When asked to list what website features were most influential (or detrimental) to making the decision to purchase, shoppers said that detailed product descriptions and images were the most important. This comes as no surprise as product pages with detailed but easy to digest relevant information and high quality images are more effective at generating conversions than pages with insufficient information and/or product photos. In lieu of a physical showroom or a sales clerk at a brick-and-mortar location, eCommerce product pages have to act as the showroom, the merchandise display, and the sales clerk. Our previous blog entries, 6 Examples of Effective eCommerce Product Pages and How to Optimize Your Product Page for Higher Conversions covered the key points on what makes for a product page that gets people to purchase.

Shoppers Like Personalization Options

Shoppers Like Personalization Options

The majority of online shoppers appreciate a time-saving personalized experience. About half of survey respondents expect or desire quick access to recently viewed products. Additionally, 39% find it convenient to have their online shopping account stored and updated. In 25% of online shoppers’ opinions, selecting a store channel when shopping was valuable while 23% expected their cart to be accessible from any device.

Engagement leads to sales when customers have a personalized shopping experience. A study by Epsilon reported that 80% of consumers are more likely to do business with companies that provide personalized shopping experiences. Shoppers still want to be in control of personalization, so opt-out capabilities are important to 38% of the respondents. The highest value is seen in algorithm-driven models when it comes to promotions (30%). According to survey participants, the following behaviors and expectations/desired levels are prevalent among shoppers:

  • Products shown based on browse and buy behavior on website: 26%
  • Products shown based on others who purchase similar products: 18%
  • Products shown based on browse and buy behavior on other non-retail websites: 16%
  • Products shown factor in personal demographics: 17%

Top-Quality Customer Service with Punctual Resolve is Most Important

Top-Quality Customer Service with Punctual Resolve is Most Important

It is important to provide good customer service to both acquire new customers and retain them. Customer service is the most important factor for online shoppers (37%) and 24% find human interaction important in a world that isn’t very connected. The majority of customers also expect their issues to be resolved quickly (31%) and appreciate the ability to resolve issues including refunds (25%). Virtual appointments were only mentioned by 5% of respondents (it is possible that demand for this service has dwindled after COVID-19) and 28% of respondents prefer live chat over a human-supported option. In contrast, the score for chatting with a bot was much lower at 11%.

Shoppers prefer talking to human customer service agents over chatbots.

A solid 62% of online shoppers prefer live chat to phone calls when it comes to customer service, followed by 56% for live chat. In contrast, a mere 15% opted to use automated chat bots. Following close behind is social media at 14% but the adoption of social media is likely to grow over time and will play a much more important role with younger demographics.

Conclusion

As sentient beings, we humans are instinctively drawn to either the extremely positive or the extremely negative. We tend to disregard the neutral and unremarkable because anything neutral and unremarkable elicits an appropriately neutral and unremarkable emotional and behavioral response. Positive customer experiences are what turns store visitors into paying customers which then increases the likelihood of them becoming repeat paying customers. Because, after all, happy customers are loyal customers.

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