How to Create an Amazing Customer Experience for Your Ecommerce Brand
If the customer isn’t smiling, then you’re doing something wrong.
There. We threw down the gauntlet.
Seriously, though: a business thrives the most when it’s supported by a group of happy, repeat customers. Anything less is a bankruptcy waiting to happen.
In order to make your customers happy, you need to deliver amazing customer experiences. We’re talking experiences that will stick with them and, more importantly, encourage them to gush about you to their friends, who may become customers in turn.
In this post, we share ideas for delighting your customers and real-world examples of brands that have done it right. We included insights from Taja Dockendorf, the founder of brand-building agency Pulp + Wire, who recently appeared with Ben Fisher on the latest episode of Subscription Radio.
Let’s get into it!
Knowing (your customer) is half the battle
Taja recommends that brands do their best to incorporate customer insights into their process, and use it to intelligently elevate the customer experience as much as possible.
“The first thing you need to do is set your benchmarks,” Taja says. “What defines an “A” customer, and what defines a “B” or “C” customer?” Try to find out how much they buy and how often, what specific products they like, and how many of each category you have.
If you have a social media manager, they can try researching a customer to see if they have a TikTok or Instagram account, and how big of an ambassador they are for your brand.
“It’s a lot of psychology; it is some busy work and a lot of trial and error, but it’s bucketing your customer base and figuring out who your best customers are. Because if you know exactly who your “A” customers are, where they’re located, and what their favorite SKUs are… There’s a lot of power in those metrics.”
Use the medium to your advantage
For your ecommerce brand to stand out from its retail counterparts, you need to lean into the differences and turn them into opportunities to distinguish yourself to the customer.
“When you’re shopping, you’ve got a 2-second attention span,” Taja says. There are entire psychological models and design philosophies based on catching people’s attention on the store shelves.
But when you’re at home, and you’ve chosen to purchase something online, that changes the experience and psychology behind your interaction with the product. This opens up the doors to a completely unique brand experience.
“You can educate so much more,” Taja says. “You can have QR codes that lead to a landing page. There can be interactivity and an entire unboxing experience.”
You as a brand are basically in the customer’s home, occupying the customer’s complete attention, and can wow and amaze the customer however you like without the same fear of interruption or competition that you would get in a retail environment. Ecomm brands that know how to take advantage of that have the best chance of success.
The online medium can also help introduce some exclusivity to make your subscription service feel more special. For example, Jot offers subscribers "Subscription-only flavors of coffee," which are seasonal or new flavors that are only available to subscribers.
Give customers more control (but not too much)
As a business mantra, “the customer is always right” has largely been debunked. But that doesn’t mean you should completely take charge of the relationship, either.
“Control” is a big part of the customer experience. Yes, the customer exercises control by choosing what to buy. And no, you’re not technically obligated to give them control over anything other than what they paid for.
But if you want to make a name for yourself as a top-shelf ecommerce subscription service, you need to be willing to let the customer steer a little. Find ways to give the customer more agency. Selecting which items go into their box, maybe; or determining when and how often their orders are sent.
Heck, you can even give them the option to pause their shipments entirely (without cancelling their account) in case something happens and they need that kind of flexibility.
Rodeo makes the entire process easy for both brands and consumers, and the consumer will appreciate your flexibility and willingness to work with them. And that is more than enough of a return.
Delight can come in many forms
All customer experiences are an opportunity to generate delight; and since “customer experience” encompasses just about anything involving a customer, that means delight can come from anything, anyplace, at any time.
You would, of course, have the delight associated with receiving great quality products and an exciting unboxing experience worth gushing about on YouTube.
Consider all 5 senses in packaging and design. You want your product to feel good in the hands, to smell amazing when unpacking. So be creative and whimsical - but on brand, too. As Taja says, “We also need to remember that the product needs to be as good inside that box as it does on the outside.”
Let’s take a look at a few real-life examples.
Bookroo is a children’s book club that does a wonderful job of winning over its young audience. The box has a cute design, but in the box, the books shipped are wrapped in such a way that makes the recipient feel like they’re unwrapping a present.
Maker Crate is a study in maximizing available packaging space. Subscribers feel like they get their money’s worth because their boxes are filled to the brim with parts, components, raw materials, instructional materials, and the like. Not to mention that each box is custom-printed to match the exact maker project you’re working on.
Menlo Club (aka Five Four Club) is an example of very, very spartan packaging. Your monthly batch of products doesn’t even come in a box, but in thin paper wrapping. The only concession to delight (if you can call it that) is the custom print on the paper. It’s low-cost, but the unboxing thrill is little-to-nil.
Delight also comes from surprising customers and celebrating them. Remember the categories we mentioned before? When a customer reaches a higher category, you could give them something to show your appreciation, like including a freebie or some swag. Or even just a kind “thank you” note that shows you see and value them.
Your company website
Your website can be a great source of delight, too. A tastefully-designed website with great UX can do a lot to entice new customers, and to help existing ones navigate through your offerings. Flexible shipping schedules and delivery options tell customers you’re willing to accommodate them.
And yes, offline experiences with your customer support department count very much towards delight. In fact, we would be so bold as to say it’s one of the most important components of your business. According to Hubspot, 93% of of customers are likely to make a repeat purchase from companies with great customer service (so get it right)!
Below are some tools that can help.
Use tools that make CX easier
There’s no reason for you to keep a spreadsheet of names, birth dates, and the last time you reached out to customers in order to have an organized and efficient customer experience. Use tools that make creating a delightful experience not only easy, but automated.
Scribless is a handwritten note service that will automatically send notes to your customers that have the look and feel of your handwriting, but can be sent at scale and connected with events in your CRM. Sending a personalized “handwritten note” at the right time is an excellent way to remind your customers of your brand and to offer discounts, promo codes, or rewards when necessary.
Another high impact way to communicate with your customers is through short video notes. Bonjoro is a video recording tool that will enable you to quickly send welcome and thank you messages to customers 1:1. Grab testimonials, spark customer feedback conversations while always conveying that your customers are your top priority.
Gathering customer feedback and acting on that feedback can be some of the most challenging aspects of creating a wonderful customer experience. GetFeedback provides a comprehensive and omni-channel approach to gathering customer feedback that enables you to respond quickly and automate feedback collection at various customer touchpoints.
Don’t make customers work for their rewards
Customers are getting an increasingly dim view on loyalty rewards, and for good reason. Rewards cost money that some brands aren’t willing to spend. That’s how you get super convoluted rewards programs that require 5000 points to get a single bottle of soda, or a $5 gift card for spending $1000 dollars’ worth of product.
“The onus is on the customer to use them, and if you’re not engaged with the product, then it’s for nothing,” Taja observes.
Rewards are supposed to be a way for you to show your appreciation to your customers. But most brands’ programs communicate the exact opposite. They’re the equivalent of tossing the customer a bone just to shut them up.
“The best rewards are the ones that engage the consumer the most,” Taja says. “Goldbelly’s reward system is one that has worked for me. Their rewards system is a really good one. They give me money back on my order--$25/$50/$100 off. I don’t have to meet a minimum or stay under a cap. It’s just value for me purchasing from them over and over again.”
Stay alert and agile
Although we are totally confident that our suggestions are effective, they won’t work for everybody, and they won’t work forever.
The important thing is to know your customers and your market, and to constantly be testing new products, services, price tiers, and methods of delight. Be ready to adjust to changes in customer behavior, supply and demand, and material costs.
Remember: while you absolutely must make it a priority to keep customers happy, you don’t have to break the bank doing so. Small gestures can sometimes mean a lot if the other party knows it’s heartfelt and authentic.