User or customer experience is incredibly important, even if you run an online business and never get to meet your clients in person. If you want to make your customer feel at home and encourage them to become a raving fan of your brand then read on learn how to improve customer experience for your small business. Plus, find out what the big brands do to draw you in!
What is Customer Experience?
Customer experience or user experience, often shortened to UX, is the experience you create for your customer when they enter your store. You have to think about your online presence as your store front and that includes customer experience. Customer experience covers everything from how safe and at ease you make your customers feel from the first moment they discover your brand, through the buying process and afterwards when they might have questions or feedback for you. Do you use a payment plugin that makes it easy for customers to pay through their preferred payment method? Will your customer face any issues or obstacles along the way? How many clicks and redirects before a purchase can be made? Is your website easy to navigate? If it’s not easy to buy from you or the process of making an online purchase takes too long, people will be less likely to buy.
How to Improve Customer Experience for Your Small Business
Now we’ve covered the basics of customer experience, let’s look at “going the extra mile”. I’m sure that over time you’ve repurchased from companies purely because they’ve provided you with an excellent customer experience. I also know that I’ve not purchased from some businesses because their customer experience was terrible – even though I loved their products/services. Obviously being helpful, friendly and polite should be a given, but if you want to differentiate yourself from others in the industry and really impress your clients, think about what you could offer them before, during or after they work with you. Some brands offer a free welcome pack (before) or a thank you pack (for afterwards). Imagine you were buying a wedding dress and went into a specialist wedding dress store, you’d probably be offered a glass of champagne and the seamstress will offer to make alterations to your dress if needed. They don’t need to do this and over time, the inclusion of free alterations to a dress is almost expected because the level of customer experience is higher because of the competition between stores.
How Department Stores Utilise Customer Experience
Department stores are fantastic with their customer experience. Have you ever noticed that when you first enter most department stores, the first part you come to is the cosmetics and perfume section of the store? As much as you might love perfume, we all know that it’s not an essential part of our daily lives. The smell of sensational fragrances entices some people into the store and there will be many people who won’t be able to leave the fragrance department without making a purchase! You will then probably be greeted by a smiley shop assistant handing out perfume samples and another, offering to test make-up products on you. The shop assistants are friendly, helpful and giving you free stuff! These tactics aren’t new to us, but a smile (and generally being friendly) goes a long way and there’s no denying that it’s nice.
Personal story of customer experience:
I remember the last two times when I’ve been into beauty stores to look for a new foundation. I went into one shop and asked the shop assistant for advice on which foundation shade would best suit my skin tone. Although she wasn’t rude, she wasn’t helpful either. She waved her hand towards the dozen or so tester shades and told me to try them to see which one looks best. The whole point of me asking her was because I wanted her opinion on which shade would suit my skin tone best because there were about 12 shades to choose from. I did come away with the right foundation after looking through the testers myself, but I didn’t purchase anything additional to the foundation. The shop assistant being unhelpful had almost spoiled the shopping experience for me.
The next (and last) time I went to look for a new foundation, I went into a different beauty store and the case was completely different. Instead of me asking for help, the assistant approached me. She was smiley, friendly and seemed generally interested in the products at the make-up stand. I told her that I was looking for a foundation and she asked me whether I wanted a matte coverage. She asked me whether I had a tan from the summer before producing a perfect match foundation!
I was so happy that I browsed the make-up stand further and ended up buying friends’ birthday presents from there, not to mention nearly the whole range of lip liners from one of the collections. I came away from that shop with a bag full of products, an empty purse but feeling fully satisfied. I then revisited a couple of times afterwards to do more make-up shopping because the make-up artist working at the counter made the whole experience so enjoyable and rewarding! How can you apply this to your business, no matter whether 100% of the buying process is executed online/offline or a bit of both?
Here are some customer experience tips from the department stores that I mentioned above:
- Department stores put their fragrance sections at the entrance because they smell more enticing than other departments, such as the food sections etc. Imagine if you were about to enter a department store but the first section you arrived at in the entrance was the fish section? This could put a lot of people off.
- Some stores give out free samples of products that they know people will like + want even if they don’t need them. If you’re happy with what you’ve tried, you’re more likely to purchase the full-sized product which helps the store increase their profits.
- Shop window displays are very important. Although they often appear fun and creative, there is a lot of work that goes into creating the perfect shop window display. It doesn’t matter whether the store sells fashion items or electrical products, often the store will hire professional stylists to come in and arrange their shop window display for them. The shop window must always draw people in. Have you ever been into a store where it appears as though all of the best products are in the shop window and the rest of the items in the shop are disappointing? This is because mediocre items never get placed in the shop window.
- Department stores and other large retail centres often place the most interesting and indulgent items in the entrance of their stores because:
1) Nobody can avoid walking past them like they can avoid going down aisles within the store
2) Because people are more likely to pick up something to buy immediately after entering the store when the excitement is still fresh, rather than when they’re about to leave the store and their attention/energy levels are wavering.
3) If a store is offering a special offer or promotion on leisurely items, they want to make sure you will see it and snap it up!
4) Let people know that you’re ready to help as soon as they enter. This doesn’t mean “pouncing” on them, but just a friendly welcome and letting customers know that if they need anything you’re ready to help.
5) Lastly, people buy what they want – not always what they need. Sometimes we just can’t help but treat ourselves to life’s little (but not always cheap) luxuries.