Online shopping is a glorious feature of modern life. You can be browsing the Marie Claire website in your lunch time, see a divine handbag that would go perfectly with, well not a lot, but that doesn’t matter because it is darling, pay with a quick click and three-to-seven working days later, *poof* there it is, sitting on your desk in all its buttery leather perfection.
Buying your bag was an exercise in quick, easy gratification, the consumer equivalent of a takeaway sushi roll. But as delicious as online shopping and sushi rolls are, sometimes you want a more substantial experience.
There is a perception that customer service can only happen in the physical space between actual people. There is something very powerful about a physical experience; the ambience, the rapport and the ability to use your senses to gauge a potential purchase can be very pleasurable.
If these are the perceptions of a physical retail experience, then the perceptions of the online experience are the opposite: that it is efficient, quick and impersonal and that customer service isn’t the priority.
This isn’t just incorrect, it can be very damaging. Technology can facilitate the modern marketing process in a staggering variety of ways — it’s not merely a case of selling products online. Marketing technology can do everything from showing us who our customer is to facilitating a conversation between customer and business.
The challenge of a modern marketer is to understand how exactly they can use this technology to provide their customer with consistently high levels of customer service in order to create a strong and lasting connection.
Perception: Online customer experience isn’t important
As mentioned previously, the above statement isn’t just false, it is damaging. Recently it was reported that 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience yet only 1% of those customers feel as though their needs are currently being met. Rather than feeling pessimistic about this statistic, this is actually an enormous opportunity for businesses to fill a massive hole.
How to provide an excellent customer experience
There are so many ways that companies can do this. Using data analytics and personalisation in order to establish who their ideal customer is a fantastic way to hone what they should be doing in order to create and strengthen these relationships.
A fantastic example of this is Nike. Nike has consistently been praised for being innovative and contemporary with its marketing strategies as well as being really thorough and responsive to customer needs and this development is no exception.
After extensive research about what their consumers (for example, runners) needed, they created an array of products that are embedded with sensors and can connect with devices, apps and social networks. Not only can you check things like running times or post your successes on social media you connect to similar minded friends and communities as well as taking advantage of Nike’s customised training service.
Nike have demonstrated that they have really listened to the needs of their customers. This has resulted in an incredible product and in a profound ongoing relationship with their core demographic.
As seen in the Nike example, creating an online community is a fantastic way to garner enthusiasm for your product as well as defining your brand. Community is the next level in consumer engagement as it affords customers the opportunity to lead the conversation in an organic way.
An interesting example of this is with Microsoft Xbox. A common problem for companies is that answering individual queries in a meaningful way, isn’t just a Herculean task, it’s also not economically viable.
Microsoft solved this problem by creating the Xbox Community. In doing so, they have empowered their users to chat to each other to solve problems. This doesn’t just reduce costs by 10-50%, but it also provides a place where users know to go to engage with like-minded people. Xbox isn’t the merely the partner in this conversation, it’s the entire reason the conversation is taking happening in the first place.
The sky’s the limit
As these examples show, once you depart from the traditional views of about what an online experience should be, you quickly realise that technology can give your business a massive opportunity to really know your customer and to provide them with solutions that create a deeply rewarding relationship.