We’ll take a wild guess and say you’ve handled annoyed customers in-store before. And ever since online shopping started becoming the norm, consumers have grown more impatient with brands that don’t meet their demands.
That’s because the digital world is a place of fierce competition — so much so that online shoppers know exactly what they want and where to get it. If they have frustrating online experiences with your company, the next store is just a few clicks away.
So, how do you please today’s digital-first customers better than your competition does? Let’s try to reverse engineer this one: here are seven things that seriously annoy online shoppers and how to avoid them.
1. Poorly designed websites
Your website is at the heart of the digital customer experiences you offer: it’s your shop window, your aisles, your register, your sales associates, and everything else.
And there’s a very delicate balance to achieve: your website must be helpful without being distracting. This means clean layout, informative copy, representative images, easy navigation — high-quality user experience all around.
But often, you’ll see websites that overwhelm users with pop-ups, confusing product categories, long load times, poor UI, and more.
Actually, load times and page speed is a big one. Did you know that a meager 0.1s improvement in site speed results in retail consumers spending almost 10 percent more? And Google has found that the probability visitors will abandon a site increases by 32 percent as page load time goes from one second to three seconds.
Design like you mean it
And mean to serve customers effectively, that is. A website built with users in mind is more likely to work well for you and your customers.
It’s helpful to walk into your customer’s shoes: navigate your site as though you were a visitor and note down opportunities for improvement. Make sure your design team also involves sales and marketing in redesigning the website. Build product category pages by intuitively grouping the items you sell, and compress images to achieve faster load times.
Customer feedback can come in handy for this. If you don’t know what your customers want, just ask them.
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2. Absence of essential information
Ever had to reach the final steps of the checkout process to find out about hidden fees? Or trying to buy an item when important specifications are absent from the product description?
Lack of this kind of information is frustrating for consumers. It doesn’t help them make the right purchases and can result in serious disappointment — and this means they’ll ultimately abandon your site for good.
What we mean is tell consumers everything they need to know. Information like delivery fees, VAT, or other costs should be disclosed as early as possible. Some sites even have a delivery fee calculation tool embedded on every product page. Apparel sites sometimes add a size finder, too.
As for product descriptions, make sure you have a copywriter that can make them both informative and attractive. The more detailed, the better. Product videos can also be an excellent way to encourage purchases (depending on the product).
All this will help customers make the right choice and will reduce costs of returns and refunds.
3. Slow support
Many of us have done time in customer support purgatory as consumers. Enduring endless waiting times, being batted around from one agent to another, getting caught in back-and-forth emails, and the like.
Yet, customers have set the bar high when it comes to acceptable response times. Research suggests that 90 percent of consumers consider an immediate response to a customer service question as important, and 60 percent define “immediate response” as 10 minutes or less.
Of course, there’s a caveat here: fast support doesn’t just mean replying quickly. It means resolving the issue on first contact, so customers won’t have to reach out to you again for the same problem or question.
And that requires more than just building efficient processes. It’s about connecting customers to knowledgeable agents — who, by the way, were found to be essential to a good customer service experience.
Fast = not furious
Literally — offering fast support reduces the chance consumers will fly off the handle when contacting support. Pay attention to workflows you use for customer service. Spot inefficiencies and find ways to streamline them.
Technology does play a great role in support speed, too. Make sure live chat, chatbots, email, and other support channels are easy to use, interconnected, and allow for an appropriate degree of automation.
And, invest in ample training for your customer-facing teams. Give them the tools they need to do their job efficiently and provide access to effective help center documentation. Chatbots can also be a big help for agents as they can field requests and collect information beforehand, so that agents will have the context they need to service customers quickly.
4. No self-service options
Self-service options are shoppers’ first stop on the road to customer support. Many people first try to find a solution in a knowledge base or help center before they contact a human agent.
This isn’t just convenient for customers who have questions that can be answered by looking up an FAQ page. It’s also efficient for customer service agents, as they won’t have to spend time on routine queries, freeing them up to focus on more complex issues instead.
Keep customers in the know
The most important thing you need for self-service is a complete and easy-to-access knowledge base or FAQ page. Document the most common questions that come up for your business. Anything from order details to products to shipping to store hours. The answers to these questions should all live in your knowledge base.
Self-service also includes chatbots (that are frequently connected with your knowledge base). Shoppers can start a conversation with a chatbot themselves, but chatbots can also automatically trigger one based on what shoppers are doing. If, for instance, someone has visited a certain number of FAQ pages, your chatbot can pop in to ask if they need help and pull the correct articles from your knowledge base when needed.
5. Lack of personalization
Personalization happens in two major ways: personalized marketing and personalized service.
Personalized marketing is the obvious kind we’ve all encountered: relevant recommendations, “you may also like” pop ups, emails that know us by name, and so on. This approach is important to consumers — 80 percent of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalized experiences.
Personalized service, on the other hand, is more subtle, but equally vital for retail shoppers. For example, consider that 72 percent of people expect agents to “already know who they are, what they've purchased and have insight into their previous engagements” when they contact them.
Make it personal
Thinking about data? You should! Effective personalization often hinges on collecting the right data and making them available to your team automatically (e.g. via a customer experience platform) or using them in marketing campaigns (e.g. via your CRM).
But, thanks to technology, there are also other ways to think outside the box and make digital experiences more personable. Think, for example, about the makeup brand Sephora and its use of augmented reality tech. They enabled customers to try on products by using the Virtual Artist app.
This is a great form of personalization: instead of dictating what your customers should buy, you let them shape their own experience and find what suits them best.This tech can be used for anything from clothing to furniture and more.
6. Poor mobile experience
Mobile experiences are becoming increasingly important. In retail specifically, 64 percent of traffic and 50 percent of sales happen on mobile. This means that consumers very much expect the digital experiences they get on desktop to be replicated on their mobile devices.
That’s why your mobile site needs to be optimized and functional, as well as go the extra mile to serve customers.
For example, personalization is big on mobile. Consider that 63 percent of smartphone users are more likely to purchase from companies whose mobile sites or apps offer them relevant product recommendations. And 58 percent feel more favorable toward companies whose mobile sites or apps remember who they are and their past behavior.
Thankfully, there are specific techniques you can use to optimize your mobile experiences. At the very least, simplify navigation and the checkout process to make it easier for shoppers to buy on the small screen.
And, it will pay to add personalized options in the long run. You could follow the example of companies like Sephora (as we mentioned above) or go for simple, proactive mobile notifications.
7. Inability to offer phygital experiences
“Phygital” is now a common term in the retail and ecommerce space. And that’s because it describes a very real trend in consumer expectations: the blurring of the line between online and offline buying journeys.
For example, KPMG research found that over two thirds of consumers had used a smartphone for product research while in a physical shop. The top reasons why? Comparing prices, looking up product information, and checking online reviews.
And, let’s not forget the practical examples of the phygital era that have become popular: contactless payments, self-service touch screens, and ordering online to pick up in-store. It’s important to remember that a great part of buying journeys happens online: 55 percent search for a product on Google, and then learn more by going to YouTube before buying.
A whole other story
Companies that manage to offer a seamless omnichannel experience are the ones customers will flock to. But, we’re not going to sugarcoat it: building an effective phygital strategy is a tough nut to crack. It often depends on your particular retail sector and your audience.
For example, Level 4.0, an international marketing consulting service based in Germany with customers like Audi and Lexus, helped its clients bring the digital auto showroom to life. By using digital technology, agents are able to chat with customers and tour the showroom via video.
Furniture retailers have also done something similar. Explore these solutions and look into blending physical and digital experiences appropriately for the products to sell. One thing is for certain: if you do get it right, customers will take notice.
There’s always something...
You can’t please everyone, that’s for sure. Take it one step at a time, refine as you go and identify the best opportunities to engage online customers.
Here’s a secret that we alluded to before: get your customers’ feedback. Whether directly by sending out surveys or indirectly (through social listening and reviews), try to understand consumer expectations. People want to be listened to — and if there’s one thing that’s seriously annoying, it’s to be ignored.
How are you planning to improve your customer experience? Let us know in the comments below.