The three factors (in the image) are the key to a good customer experience, according to Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine’s ‘Outside In’ from Forrester Research, and I think the average consumer would tend to agree.
Two of those factors are pretty subjective – beyond serving the purpose of transacting with the online store, I wonder how many customers are put off returning (or, worst case, actually completing the transaction) by a lack of an ‘easy’ and ‘enjoyable’ experience?
Arguably, companies are so taken by deploying the latest and greatest, and by discovering all they can about their customer so they can target and entice them back, that they actually forget the purpose behind their chosen technology — which is to improve the customer experience. That can be mapped and tested in so many ways, but when we’re talking about the actions of human beings, do companies ever hop over the fence, look from the other side and try being their “own” customer?
Many might be in for a surprise. It can be hard being a loyal customer. You may know what you want, and have found the best in-stock, price and delivery offering – but you might have to steel yourself to go back. Why? Well, here are some questions that go through my own mind: What is my customer login password on this pet food site? And why do I need one anyway when I’m paying with PayPal? With a finger poised over ‘forgotten your password?’, I wonder why it can’t prefill the ‘send me a reminder’ with the email address I just tried. It can be hard, if the experience is not quick and easy.
Additionally, in seeking feedback, engagement, stickiness, and repeat business, companies might just be provoking the opposite reaction. For example, scenarios like forcing a full customer registration and password when they just want to drop in, shop and go, or poorly timed ‘Want to chat?’ boxes that obliterate the product page, or when customers search for more information and disappear into a parallel universe of Frequently Asked Questions (none of which match) are things happening out of context that add up and can jeopardise the entire visit and relationship even. Easy and enjoyable it often is not.
There has to be a middle ground. Context is king, and there’s a time and a place for many things, just pick the most natural ones for the customer journey. Compromises on your company’s requirements may be hard to swallow, but if they contribute to the positive experience and increase sales, then that would have to be a good thing. Just make sure you try it yourself first and see!