Online customer experience is the new frontier of business differentiation. Eighty-nine percent predicted that by 2016, they will separate themselves from their competition on the basis of customer experience—more so than product and service. A variety of factors influence a customers’ experience with a company, ranging from interactions with an in-store sales clerk, to reading an FAQ page to navigating a company’s website. We are currently seeing businesses invest heavily in customer experience, with Gartner reporting that businesses invested in customer experience more than any other area of marketing in and are expecting customer experience to lead innovation spending.
As companies dig further into customer experience possibilities, we are likely to see growth in humanisation and omni-channel integration. Computer scientists are getting better and better at designing artificial intelligence and creating decision chains that will allow businesses to speak directly to customers based on their data. By combining purchase history and behavioural analytics, websites will be able to make predictions much as a seasoned salesman is, or even better. From a customer service standpoint, websites will be able to respond to customers’ needs at any point they need it, directly on a webpage, almost as though a customer representative was looking over their shoulder.
Additionally, companies will begin placing human elements into their online interface. Customer service itself will intensify its integration across channels. Customers will be able to initiate a process online, then visit a store and resume the process from the precise point they paused, and vice versa. If industry predictions are correct, the best customer experience innovators will become the most successful companies.
Below, I have outlined six of the top innovations in customer experience that can boost a company’s bottom line.
People are different and so are their preferences. Adjusting the way you interact with customers can help your business satisfy them: 74% of people are frustrated by irrelevant advertisements and 56% of customers report feeling more inclined to shop at a retailer that offers a good personalised customer experience. Good personalisation ranges from having relevant content on landing pages, to sending customised emails (that have 41% higher click-through rates) and making pinpoint suggestions to your customers. Amazon has set a prime example of how personalisation can boost sales, with remarkably good product recommendations.
One key to customer experience is consistency. Businesses should present their customers with the same information no matter where they go, be it a website, store or a call centre. Responsive web design—the creation of fluid websites built for optimisation on any platform—provides this consistency for a company’s online presence. Additionally, mobile functionality is more critical now than ever–over half of internet traffic comes from mobile devices and is expected to grow to 75% of all internet traffic. On top of those numbers, mobile functionality is also a necessary component of search engine optimisation. In April of 2015, Google started to give mobile-friendly websites a boost to higher rankings.
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