Everyone makes assumptions about what customers expect when they interact with a brand but how can we separate fact from opinion?
To answer that question, our partner Nosto surveyed 1,100 consumers to learn exactly what makes an ideal customer experience for them. Some of the insights are predictable, others are anything but. Now that we have an idea as to what consumers expect from an experience with a brand, the next task at hand is to find ways to deliver on those expectations.
To that end, Phillip Jackson, Chief Commerce Office at Something Digital, hosted the experts in a webinar to analyze the results that Nosto collected so that you can carve out an action plan. That webinar, The State of the Customer Experience, is available free and on demand. This blog post highlights just some of the insights revealed in the 45-minute webinar.
First, let’s meet our panelists.
In the upper righthand corner is Jan Soerensen, General Manager North America for Nosto, a standalone personalization platform that lets marketers personalize all of their brand’s touchpoints to the customer. To his right is Jake Cohen, Director of Product Marketing, Klaviyo, a marketing platform that helps ecommerce teams create, nurture and grow relationships with customers and prospects. Below Jake is Phillip Jackson who hosted the panel discussion, and to Phillip’s left is Olivia McNaughten, Product Marketing Manager, Yotpo. The Yotpo platform offers a full suite of solutions for customer reviews, visual marketing, loyalty programs, and referrals.
Phillip: One of the things we heard in the survey was that consumers expect omni-channel access to goods, although 53% said they interact with a brand most often on websites. What do you make of those finding Jake?
Jake: On the one hand if you’re a digital brand, 100% of your customers interact with you on your website because that is how they must buy from you. The purpose of the other channels is to nurture the relationship by sending information, community reviews, first-access to new products, and other things that are of real value to customers and prospects. Just take care to send information via channels your customers and prospects have opted into.
Phillip: Jan, 57% of consumers said they found a seamless experience across multiple channels, which is a bit surprising because within the industry, we see seamlessness across all touch points as a challenge. Why is that?
Jan: It’s a result of personalization. Personalization allows brands to meet their customer’s expectations, which in turn deliver better, more consistent experiences. There are many ways to approach personalization, one is based on maturity of the customer relationship. Early in the relationship marketers may want to go with a dual tap approach, starting with a pop-up with an offer and perhaps an exit-intend. Obviously, the site should cookie the users so they don’t become dependent on discounts.
Phillip: Changing topics a bit, do you recommend limiting discounts?
Jan: Discounting and couponing should be a stand alone discipline. A brand’s goal should be to minimize it as much as possible, which they can do by creating segments of people who don’t need a discount to purchase or repurchase. It’s a good idea to reduce the number of unnecessary discounts, and there are marketing tools that can automate that decisioning by identifying and segmenting which consumers have a strong affinity to a brand and suppressing those offers.
Phillip: When the survey respondents were asked what helps them make a purchase, 76% said reviews, followed by discounts, photos, word of mouth and loyalty points. Olivia, why do reviews trump discounts?
Olivia: Consumers are swayed by social proof. Our research has shown that 77% of shoppers actually prefer customer photos over professionally taken pictures. To that point, 98% of customers seek reviews when making a purchase decision because it helps them feel more confident that their decision is the right one for them.
Phillip: Can user generated content (UGC) be featured outside of the dotcom site to promote repeat purchase or retention?
Jake: Absolutely, and to find proof just consider Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which says that for people to feel truly safe and comfortable they need a few things. First is food, shelter and water, the second is belonging. People want to feel they’re not alone, and they’ll go to extremes to do that. I also recommend Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence. He termed the coin “social proof” in that book.
If you can capture [user generated] content from people in the tribe who are connected to your brand and disperse it to others who are not, you can demonstrate social proof and invite them to belong. The next question is mechanical: how do we do that? We’ve mapped that out.
[Editor’s note, Jake describes that map in detail in the webinar]
Phillip: Let’s talk about the home page, 58% of consumers say content on the home page is relevant to them. Is that because we’re doing a great job at crafting more personalized experiences, Jan?
Jan: We’re a lot better but we still have a long way to go. By way of example, let’s compare it to email. Marketers are really good at creating email series — welcome series, customer lifetime value series, category affinity and so on. There are so many campaigns we run offsite that we can and should run them onsite as well. The direct-to-consumer brands are good at this. When a new customer arrives on a site it shows branding and social proof. As customers progress in their relationship, the home page emphasizes loyalty. Even if your brand doesn’t have a bunch of products or personas, you can do a lot around life cycle and life time value.
Olivia: People take many routes to reach your homepage; it’s not linear. One of the most important things brands can do towards providing a consistent experience is to implement social proof in every touch point. Once they enter your website the trust is already there, so your homepage can focus on your brand. The best thing you can do there is showcase your brand through your community.
Phillip: Thanks to our panelists for all of their insight. This post covers just a small fraction of what they’ve shared. I highly recommend watching the free webinar at your convenience for:
- A deep-dive into the current state of customer experience based on survey results
- Expert opinions on why certain customer experience trends are meeting consumer demands
- Actionable insights and into how ecommerce brands can optimize their customer experience strategy to meet consumer expectations.