Putting your customer first is pretty much always the right way to go, regardless of your business model.
If you’re in the eCommerce world and you’re not entirely convinced of this notion, it’s important to remember that potential customers are always looking for a seller that will provide the best possible shopping experience—it’s why consumers love Amazon so much.
Becoming fully customer-centric can be a tall order for businesses with already stretched marketing teams. But fortunately, there are established methods you can easily adapt to help your eCommerce business have more of a customer-centric marketing approach.
Let’s delve a little deeper into the finer points of customer-centricity.
What does it mean to be customer-centric?
There’s no one-size-fits-all method or spreadsheet for having a customer-centric marketing approach. Rather, it’s a mindset you have to adopt. It’s a dedication to offering a user experience and customer service that always prioritizes the customer’s needs.
This means that your first thought shouldn’t always be: “What changes can I make to boost my sales figures?” but instead: “What can I do to ensure that my customers have the most enjoyable shopping experience possible?”
When you’ve migrated from one mindset to the other, that’s when customer-centricity can become part of your company culture.
Five ways to become more customer-centric
1. Perform frequent UX audits and updates
Being customer-centric means that you have to constantly monitor how people are using your website and implementing changes to ensure that the user experience is constantly improving in relation to those behaviors.
This should be done at least once a quarter so that you can keep up with the latest trends and also focus on fixing any glitches in your eCommerce store.
If you’re genuinely dedicated to this tactic, you might have your website audited by an expert third party to ensure that it’s not just meeting industry standards, but surpassing them.
Acting on user feedback is at the heart of a customer-centric approach. If there’s something that a lot of people aren’t happy about with your online store, you need to find out what it is and resolve the issue as soon as possible.
For example, if many of your customers struggle with your site’s checkout process, you’ll want to make sure that any UX improvements take this into account and that streamlining the shopping experience becomes as painless as possible.
Crate and Barrel is an excellent example of an online retailer that took this approach seriously. The homeware store took their customers’ needs to heart and designed one of the web’s most efficient and friendly checkout processes.
2. Make it easy for your customers to ask questions
One of the simplest ways to be more customer-centric is to make it easy for your customers to get in touch with you whenever they need help. This means making sure that all of your contact information is easily accessible on all of your site’s pages as well as having a dedicated “Contact Us” page.
Bear in mind here that “contact information” shouldn’t mean just an email address or some outdated HTML contact form. Don’t be afraid to offer a telephone number or even a live chat feature where customers can call your business if they need help. Also, keep an eye on your social media accounts for any support requests that come through, and make sure support emails are given high priority.
Don’t forget the importance of having a real person with human emotion on the other end of these customer communication channels. When there’s a human being available, your customers feel more comfortable getting in touch with you. They feel more confident that their questions or concerns will be taken seriously.
Rain or Shine Golf has a customer-centric Contact Us page, offering site visitors no fewer than five different methods of getting in touch.
3. Give your customers a “better than the real world” experience
One of the benefits of running an online store is that you can leverage technology in a way that your brick-and-mortar competitors can’t.
Instead of just talking about what your web store can do, show it to people. For example, instead of including pictures in your product descriptions, place user-generated content (UGC) images there. This allows customers to get a realistic feel for how the items would look with their environment in real life.
This type of visual representation gives eCommerce stores a distinct advantage over their competitors, especially if the items you’re selling are somewhat unique and difficult to sell with words alone.
Take Fabletics as an example. The sportswear company offers real customer UGC alongside each product on individual product pages. There’s even a button that allows users to upload their own photos. Customers also know to post UGC with the hashtag #MyFabletics.
4. Embrace multi-platform integration
ECommerce companies are increasingly making use of third-party platforms and services to get better at creating great experiences centered around their customers.
From CRM-integrated chat tools to software that helps you manage social media marketing efforts, there is no shortage of powerful eCommerce apps on the market.
Each of these services will provide you with a unique set of tools and metrics to use in your everyday work. There are some data centralization tools that can help with this to combine your data across multiple platforms, helping you unlock the value of your disparate data sources and spot leaks in sales funnels.
From a content standpoint, tools like Stackla can provide your organization access to millions of images and videos created by everyday consumers across the globe. It can also integrate seamlessly with several other channels and tools, meaning you can facilitate a better omni-channel marketing experience focused on your brand’s customers and advocates.
5. Use customer data to make useful cross-sell recommendations
In a report published by Signal and Econsultancy, it was revealed that 81 percent of online retailers with a strong ROI are using first-party data to drive sales in various ways.
This number is indicative of how effective leveraging customer data can be, and it highlights that online retailers are no longer overlooking the potential of their own information.
For instance, if a customer is logged into your site or has any type of account with you, it’s worth leveraging that in some way to capture information about them and use it to deliver more relevant shopping experiences. For example, showing products based on what they’ve already shown an interest in, what they’re shopping for at the moment, what you know they’ve purchased in the past or a combination of these things.
WOD Life shows us an excellent approach to personalized cross-selling. The apparel and accessories brand uses commerce experience platform Nosto to provide product recommendations based on things like new arrivals, best-sellers and personal browsing history.
This allows WOD Life to make more intelligent and relevant product recommendations.
If you want to stay customer-centric, it’s important to know your customers.
The best way to start is by performing frequent UX audits and updates with the goal of making your site as easy for shoppers as possible.
You should also provide a “better than the real world” experience when they use your site or app.
Finally, don’t forget about using your own proprietary data to make useful cross-sell recommendations based on customer needs and previous behaviors.