Human Customer Experiences: The Next Big Thing in e-Commerce
The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the adoption of digital solutions in multiple industries. While the e-commerce industry has existed for quite some time, the pandemic highlighted the need for embracing advanced solutions to maintain business.
Consumers who suddenly had to shift to online channels found digital journeys more convenient than traditional shopping methods. Now, e-commerce customers demand online purchasing services and prefer an excellent customer experience at all times.
With the increasing demands for digital experiences, e-commerce needs to adapt the customer experience to the expectations. While in-person engagement is replaced with digital engagement, consumers prefer a 'Human' experience over a Computer experience. Customers expect the digital journey to be similar to an in-store journey whether it is before, during, or after a purchase. Their expectations include multiple aspects, such as brand visibility, products, navigation, first impressions, customer service, and promotions.
Adding 'Human' to the Experience Forges Emotional Connections
Online retailers now need to personalize the customer experience to retain existing customers and attract new customers. As numerous e-commerce brands have cropped up in the last two years, businesses cannot operate without personalizing their products and services. Small brands may achieve this feat easily, but it is a challenge for big brands.
Digital Experience Platforms (DXP) empower e-commerce brands to personalize products and services, thereby enhancing customer experiences. DXPs also elevate the brand experience in multiple ways.
While personalization enriches customer experience greatly, there is another aspect required to complement personalization. What is it?
Providing a consistent and excellent digital experience for multiple products and services requires a human touch. Why? To form rich touching connections! Businesses need to consider who their customers would best connect with. Who would that be? Other humans!
Humanizing e-commerce customer journeys helps online retailers to connect emotionally with their customers, and meet their expectations successfully. Adding 'human' to the experience empowers e-commerce brands to establish a personal connection with the consumers.
Strategies to Add Human to your E-commerce Experience
Businesses should consider the cognitive, behavioral, and emotional responses of consumers during the entire journey. When the digital journey is positive and relatable, people will return for more. Below are some strategies that will embrace the human in customer experience.
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Since customer experience connects with multiple communication touchpoints, it is essential to let the customers know that they are dealing with a trusted and reputable brand that respects them. Handwritten notes, small gifts, welcome emails, and humanized brand voice, all help to humanize communication.
Abercrombie & Fitch, a popular American retailer of casual clothing, became more popular after it launched its plus-size jeans range called Curve Love. The brand understood the preferences and expectations of modern customers and proved that humans worked behind the brand to deliver what the customers wanted. Now the brand offers plus-sizes in many garments other than jeans.
Enhance Social Media Presence
Interacting with customers on social media helps online retailers introduce their brands in a familiar, fun, and comfortable space. Engaging with customers in the comments section or on their personal accounts gives a direct human touch. Fun and playful content, happy customer testimonials, and encouraging customers to post photos with hashtags give out the feel of real people using the products and services.
Brands also establish a personal connection through a trusted face (celebrity or influencer) on social media. Under Armour, a popular sports apparel and accessories brand collaborated with Dwayne Johnson, who has 302 million Instagram followers to promote the band. The promotion was successful where the Project 1 Sneaker sold out within 24 hours, and the collaboration hashtag #ProjectRock has been used 262,000 times on Instagram.
Include Entertaining Stories and Experiences
Integrating entertainment with e-commerce customer experience helps to connect with customers easily. Useful information (how to use it, how it is made, where it is made, and the idea behind a product) helps people to become involved with the brand. Entertaining content, such as trivia, fun facts, and quizzes, makes the brand more attractive to people. An excellent example is LOL Surprise, a collectible dolls website that provides games for kids to play as well as shop.
Leverage Emotive Storytelling through Videos
Video is an ideal medium to create an emotional connection with customers. Snapchat reports that Millennials and Gen Z spend almost more than an hour watching videos on social media apps every day. In e-commerce, using emotive storytelling through video will help to increase sales and click-throughs. Also, when consumers watch how to use, install or assemble a product, they will understand it better.
Establish Relationships through Customer Issues
Customer responses, especially complaints, are essential to establishing relationships. Empathizing with the customers, supporting their requests, and asking for feedback, enables customers to see the human behind the brand. Working on feedback quickly and improving products and services based on the feedback helps to form tight-knit communities.
Excellent Customer Experiences - Success Stories
Many e-commerce brands have added a human touch to their digital journeys and found success in enhancing customer engagement.
Walmart - Making customers part of their family
A Walmart associate turned 101 years old, and the chain shared the news on Facebook, inviting all customers to celebrate the occasion. Publishing a feel-good story on how they view their associates and the birthday celebration made their customers feel connected as a part of the Walmart family.
Trader Joe's - Helping out those in need
An 89-year-old man got stuck at home during a snowstorm, and his granddaughter could not reach him with sufficient provisions. When other grocery chains could not help, Trader's Joe, which does not deliver normally, made an exception and delivered a large order for free within 30 minutes. Caring for a person in need showcased the company's focus on valuing people.
Zappos – Personalizing replies to every email
Zappos replies to every mail they receive, including ones sent to the CEO. A woman emailed a request to the CEO, and though the CEO was unavailable, a representative replied with an engaging and humorous email. Personalized replies to emails showed the retailer's care and interest in customers' needs.
Sephora - Virtual skincare consultations
Sephora introduced virtual skincare consultations for customers to identify what they require to care for their skin. The virtual consultations were convenient for customers to know what type of facial would suit them before visiting the outlet. Ideal product recommendations and personalized guides highlighted the retailer's focus on providing the best experience.
Ralph Lauren – Virtual shopping experiences
Ralph Lauren is providing the RL Virtual Experience, where customers can virtually step into the famous RL outlets. The apparel company also has introduced the first-to-market virtual scan feature partnering with Snapchat, where customers can scan the logo on any medium to unlock AR (Augmented Reality) experiences. The digital solution enables the customer to shop and enjoy the in-store experience right from home.
Top Three Tips to Consistently Humanize Digital Experiences
While incorporating the advanced solutions mentioned above is not possible for all e-commerce brands, below are a few tips that can help you consistently humanize your digital experiences.
Reach out to the customers via social media
Instead of using social media for only customer service or post-purchase interactions, businesses can engage with customers for recommendations, feedback, surveys, and ideas. Even posting a question on social media about what people expect from a particular product will help companies understand the needs and respond with personalized improvements.
Provide high-class online customer service
Customers do not prefer online chat for mainly one reason, it is robotic. E-commerce stores also treat chat as a minor aspect of customer service. Instead, the online presence must be the same as the in-store presence by skillful and passionate staff manning the digital channels. It is a significant opportunity for companies to interact with customers in real-time with meaningful engagement and support.
Understand the customer's needs and preferences
Creating a conversational and hospitable environment is essential to retaining customers. It includes training the staff to answer all questions promptly either through chat or email. Addressing complaints, suggestions, and ideas, also helps brands keep the customers engaged. Noting customers' history and using that knowledge with future interactions makes the customer trust the brand more.
Key Advantages of Humanizing Customer Experiences
Enhanced Customer Engagement
Good customer engagement leads to increased interactions and better relationships mutually beneficial to the customer and the company. Through meaningful engagement in social media, emails, and chats, companies can provide improved and personalized products and services based on interactions.
Elevated Customer Loyalty
Exceptional customer engagement and experience increase the trust and loyalty of customers. Though customers seek high-quality products at the optimal price, they are ready to pay more for the same product if the brand provides additional value through engagement. Such customers also loyally stay with a brand for the long term.
Increased Customer Acquisitions
A Nielsen study reports that in 56 countries, 92% of customers rely on family and friend recommendations for e-commerce products. Long-term customers and their testimonials help to attract new customers and retain them. Businesses can leverage digital mediums and social media for customer acquisitions.
Multiplied Customer Conversions
When companies prioritize relationships and create a life-cycle of feedback and offerings, existing customers are more willing to purchase a new product. Providing additional value through campaigns and promotions enables brands to increase their conversion rates.
Optimized Crisis Management
When it comes to complaints, satisfied customers are more likely to contact the company to resolve the issue rather than publicly exposing the complaint and harming the brand's reputation. Offering a wholesome experience for customers helps manage a crisis without damaging the brand name. Companies that honor customers grow in the long term though facing any short-term setbacks.
Humanizing e-commerce customer experiences lead to personalized digital journeys. Businesses can successfully meet demands despite a dynamic environment when paying attention to customers' needs and preferences. Building emotional connections with consumers empowers e-commerce companies to profit, grow and expand.
To sum it up
E-commerce brands need to emotionally connect with their consumers to deliver a ‘human’ customer experience. DXPs help brands to achieve that goal. A Digital Experience Platform enables businesses to deliver excellent customer experiences across all digital touchpoints.
QED42 works with e-commerce brands in creating an ideal multi-channel digital ecosystem customized to business needs and goals. DXP features, such as omnichannel, 360-degree dashboard customer view, multi-cloud deployment, personalized design system, and automation, help e-commerce brands engage with their customers better.
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