Engage your customers
Engaging customers online is complex and requires merchants to look beyond chat bots, they may help but only when all else have failed.
It may be a bold statement that chat bots should be considered a last resort if all else fails. Chat bots can be very useful and certainly helpful, we might even start offering chat services at some point. But, and this is important, chat bots, or even live chats, are not the solution to creating a user experience that boost customers engagement online. It is simply the last resort when digital engagement have failed.
Take yourself as an example. When you shop online, at what point do you start to interact with a chat bot, or a live chat? Is it when you found the product you wanted to purchase? Or when you completed a hassle free checkout? Or when your items was delivered according to expectation and at the right time? I guess, non of the above examples calls for interacting with a chat bot or a live agent. Most often the use case of chat services is to salvage a poor experience, at which point the customer is engaged for the wrong reason. Needless to say, this does of course not apply to live shopping events, where the chat service is the main tool.
Chat bots and live agents are great when questions or issues arise, and most stores should definitely consider using one. But that means it is a fail safe for when the main user experience fail, not the solution for the main user experience. For some merchants, it is nearly impossible to offer a good purchase experience online, in that case a chat service is a great tool and should of course be used.
This article isn’t about not using chat services, it is about engaging your customers by doing the outmost to optimize the experience up to the point where a chat service is required.
It’s all about the customer experience
A key aspect when attracting the attention of a customers is to ensure the attention is attracted from a good experience. If not, the customer engagement will likely be more harmful than valuable. Hence, it is critical to get the customer experience right in everything you do. May it be social media, marketing, store checkout or customer service. You should ask yourself:
Are we providing a friction less experience for our customers?
Most likely, the answer is no. There are always areas that can be improved and process steps that can be adjusted. While we won’t cover them all in this article we hope to give you enough examples to consider what other areas you have that should be improved or adjusted.
Be helpful to all your visitors
Where do your visitors leave your store? The optimal answer would be from the thank you page after purchase, but then you wouldn’t be reading this article. Instead, a visitor usually leaves a store when hitting a dead end. That can be either when they realize the item they are looking for isn’t available, or when they have run out of pages to browse.
If a user is strictly looking for a specific product a good user experience would be to present that product to the user. If you don’t have that product the next best thing is to present a similar product that can be purchased instead. And the third best option is to clearly inform the user that the product do not exist in your store. The worst option is to force the customer to contact you in order to understand that the product isn’t available, or to browse your entire product catalog.
But how can you know what the customer is looking for? Sometimes you can’t. But if the user searches for a product in your store you should be able to make out if that product is available or not in your store. And likewise, if you drive targeted traffic to your store you can at least avoid driving traffic to products you do not have. A common example is to drive traffic on paid advertisement for something that isn’t exactly what you’re selling. The user will enter your store looking for a product that in fact never existed.
On the other hand you should also try to be helpful when you don’t know exactly what product the visitor is looking for. A simple and powerful way to achieve this is to present recommended products to the user based on their and others behaviour in the store. This can be visually similar items, contextual similar items or items that others with the same behavioural pattern purchased.
You know your store navigation by heart. And it is probably a very good and common navigation setup. Almost all online shops have navigation components to browse categories, to search items and to get inspiration of some kind. All of these are good and should of course be used, but keep in mind that the navigation was constructed by someone that knows the store very well and thereby others may not find it as easy to navigate the store as you do.
Large retail brands spend huge amounts on figuring out how people navigate offline stores. Where to place items and in what order. All to drive more sales as the customer moves through the store. While a bit different, online shops mostly optimize their landing pages for product placements when they relatively easy could improve product placement on any page the visitor views. They may also have hidden patterns in their navigation that could help users find what they are looking for, or to drive additional sales. If you’re able to help your visitors navigate your store, you will gain engagement and revenue.
That all sounds great, but how would we do that? One way would be to mirror how large retailers do it offline. Simply by analyzing what other visitors do in your store. If they regularly go from item a to item b, there could be a good case for presenting item b at the item a product page. We call it behavioural patterns and we use them to autmatically present products to users based on their behaviour.
Deliver answers to questions where they surface
A help section or a frequently asked questions (FAQ) section isn’t a very good user experience. It has been with us for ages now and people are used to them. But consider browsing an online shop and whenever a question arise you have to visit the help pages. It isn’t bad to have a help section, but the help should be delivered where the user needs it, not at a centralized spot of a virtual store. There are many ways to deliver help where needed (and we are not talking about chat bots here). And in many cases merchants already do a good job with this.
One example is to notify the visitor upon arrival that you ship to Belgium, or that you don’t ship to Belgium if that’s the case. No need to search an FAQ or help section. Other questions are much harder to know in advance, and to solve those you need to analyze where questions surface. Indicators can be simple like checking what pages the users visiting the FAQ pages most often came from. A product page frequently taking users to an FAQ page is probably missing some crucial information.
A very well known source of friction is a bad checkout experience. This is bad for all parties. You are losing out on sales and the customer gets annoyed. We wont spend much time on the checkout in this article except from proposing to check your funnel analysis to see if many customers drop of in the checkout process.
Extensive product information
The product information provided should help the user determine if they want the product or not. It is important with clear, extensive information as purchases of items that turn out to not meet the customers expectation is simply bad for business. Long term you’ll lose customers and revenue on poor product information. This may for example be an overlooked source of returns as customers can’t make out if the product is what they want or not.
Use insights from your chat service
We started out a bit harsh on the use of chat services. We hope it is clear that we recommend online shops to use such services, but not to solely rely on them. With that said, you should analyze when and on what pages customers engage with chat services as it can give you valuable information to where you need to improve your store. May it be a lack of information, poor navigation, or something else. It is a great source of insights to where customers encounter unwanted friction on your site.
This article aim to show some of the often overlooked areas of improvement a store can consider to boost customer engagement and the customer experience as such. While some aspects may be common sense, others can be hard to analyse and find without a comprehensive tool to help along the way. Using Engage, our customers are able to improve their customer experience leading to better customer engagement. Some of which are shortly described below. We urge you to consider how you can improve your customer experience and we always love to hear about your ideas and what you aim to acheive.
Most aspects of the above mentioned potential issues can be found in a funnel analysis. It just needs to be granular enough. The funnel essentially tells you where visitors are dropping off from the store. And this in turn tells you where to start looking for things to improve.
Cohort analysis may not typically be used to analyze the customer experience. But it is a powerful way to compare cohorts aqcuired using different customer experiences. Is the cohort aqcuired after an improvement retained longer than before the improvement? Are they spending more? Use the cohort analysis to figure out if your changes are making real improvements.
Bounce rate reporting
Find sources, landing pages or campaigns from where users bounce. This is useful to understand what sources are contributing to valuable or less valuable traffic to your store. And to understand what landing pages or campaigns works better than others. We see many stores driving paid traffic that essentially just bounce upon arrival. This means the merchant is wasting money on poor quality traffic and the visitor is wasting time on irrelevant stores.
Customer Experience Article Engaging