Competing on Customer Experience

Ecommerce merchants trying to acquire and keep customers will compete to give exceptional customer experiences which may make price and even product quality less applicable, according to a new poll.

Some 53 percent of United Kingdom-based retailers surveyed for a current Econsultancy report, said customer service and customer experience are the principal way retail organizations will differentiate from competitors over the next five decades. Separately, 23 percent of the merchants surveyed considered customer experience represented the single most exciting chance for their business.

No One Wins When Merchants Compete on Price Alone

The focus on client experience might be a reaction to years of price competition, which has been especially challenging for brick-and-mortar or multichannel retailers.

For instance, consider apparel retailer American Eagle. The business reported its eighth consecutive quarter of declining same-store earnings in January 2015, mentioning, among other things, price competition.

When retailers compete on price alone, the only way to live is to radically reduce costs. But at some stage, there’s nothing left to slash from the funding as margins approach zero.

Price competition may also be a barrier for ecommerce companies, particularly if those companies are pressed to not only provide low prices but also to provide free or very low-cost delivery.

The solution to competing on price alone is to provide something more than just a product, but a product wrapped, if you will, in support.

In the U.K. retailers poll, only six percent considered price would be how their company differentiated itself in the next five decades. There needs to be a better way.

Product Quality May Not Be Sufficient

Top quality products have , possibly, will always demand a premium. But those retailers selling the very best of products may still have to differentiate around customer experience as much or more than about product quality independently.

Bear in mind that 53 percent of those U.K.-based retailers surveyed considered customer experience are the principal retail differentiator for the next five decades. By comparison, about 14 percent believed they could compete on product quality.

What’s’Customer Experience’?

When an ecommerce business has determined, as lots of the retailers survey have, that price and product aren’t enough to differentiate the business from its competitors and that customer experience is sufficient, the company will require a thorough understanding of just what client experience is.

“`Client experience,”’ composed Adam Richardson at a 2010 Harvard Business Review article,”is now a very popular phrase in the past few years, but such as’invention’ and’design’ it is in fact hard to get a clear, commonly-held definition, although many companies see enhancing their customer experience as a competitive differentiator. …”

“People have been grappling with a definition of consumer experience for many years. Sometimes it’s defined as electronic interactions and experiences, like on a web site or a smartphone. In other situations, customer experience is focused on retail or customer support, or the rate at which problems are resolved in a call centre,” explained Richardson.

“To be really successful on a long-term foundation, customer experience has to be viewed as all these items, and much more. It’s the sum-totality of how clients engage with your business and brand, not only in a photo in time, but during the whole arc of being a customer.”

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Being a Client

The aim, if Richardson and the poll cited here are right, is to make a positive, enjoyable experience for the customer at every touch point, long term. Or, in the context of rivalry, a positive, enjoyable, and better experience for your client.

Interestingly, the best way to offer this form of better-than-the-competition customer experience is to concentrate on customer service principles and useful marketing.

  • Smooth Support. Stay from a customer’s manner, provide frictionless shopping, allowing the customer to easily locate and purchase the product she needs with as little hindrance or resistance as possible. Including order fulfillment too.
  • Know your clients. Do what you can to learn what motivates your heart shoppers, why do they buy, when do they buy, and what problems are they solving. Think of this as listening to your clients.
  • Personalize. Attempt to treat each client like an individual, personalizing advertising, content, and provides when possible.
  • Communicate. Use chat, telephone, email, social networking, and any other way it is possible to imagine to communicate with clients. If a shopper tweets a query, he deserves a response.
  • Be helpful. Attempt to move beyond simply offering products for people to purchase. Instead try to be helpful to the shopper. This utility may take the kind of offering a fantastic return policy, curating orders to assist shoppers remain current with trends, or supplying useful marketing, such as how-to videos or posts.
  • Be constantly customer focused. All customer experience initiatives will need to be consistent across channels and throughout time. Provide the identical exceptional experience on Facebook that you do on your website, and supply the identical experience today you will next Thursday.

To help wrap up this notion, consider a, possibly apocryphal, story about Hall of Fame football coach Vince Lombardi. The story goes that on the first day of spring training in 1961, Lombardi stood up before his players — who were professionals — holding a pigskin in his hands and said,”This is a football.”

Even professionals will need to be reminded of exactly how significant the fundamentals are.