Today’s Podcast is a conversation with Alex Brown, chief marketing officer at DFO, and will be talking about How to improve customer experience in eCommerce, how things have changed and why experience is important.
Alex grew up in San Diego, California, and from a very early age he’s been very heavily involved in sales and marketing. He was one of those kids (like me) who would set up a every kind of stand he could think of in front of his house from as far back as he can remember. One funny story was when he went around with a friend and clipped all of his neighbors flowers, packaged them and sold them back to them at a flower stand. So you could say he’s always had an entrepreneurial spirit.
His real turning point happened around the age of 25 when a couple of his friends were experiencing 7 figure sales success promoting products and services online through affiliate marketing. Needless to say that obviously piqued his interest in the performance & digital marketing side of e-commerce. This lead to them starting Instant Checkmate in 2010, growing it to 9 figure revenues in less than 5 years. An obvious jumping off point for him, he was presented with an opportunity to join forces with DFO and build out its internal marketing team in San Diego on 2017.
Customer Experience vs Customer Expectations
Alex believes that all customers really have similar basic expectations when they shop online and this has obviously morphed quite a bit over recent years, especially as services like Amazon have become much more ubiquitous and just easier to access.
As you have heard time and time again, it’s really pretty simple,
Customers want the products that they want, when they want them, and they also don’t want to pay too much for them.
– Alex Brown
If you take those three things and put them together, it really explains why e-commerce has grown and become what it is today. E-commerce gives customers access to information, the ability to shop on different devices, at different times and the option to share their experiences with others. It is this which has altered the entire landscape when it comes to how people engage with and consume products that they’re interested in online.
Consumers shopping habits will continue to evolve with technology but it really boils down to those three things; Consumers want what they want when they want it and they don’t want to pay too much for it. This starts with giving them completely seamless shopping experience.
Seamless shopping experiences start at the very top of the funnel. Easy navigation & Easy checkouts. Alex believes a perfect example of this is Amazon, with its one click up-sell and check out features. Making sure that it’s a very seamless experience, really starts there, but there’s obviously other Technologies such as chatbots that help enable this seamless shopping experience. People want to engage as easily as they can with a customer service representative versus having to pick up the phone and wait on hold so technologies like this are obviously really important.
It’s all about offering a really customized experience.
Going back to the example with Amazon; They know your individual habits, your shopping history, what you like to consume (example: Amazon Prime movies or music you have listened to!) and so as a result when you log into Amazon you have a very tailored customized experience.
I’d say it’s interesting, as much as people like to complain about, privacy and talk about how they think their Alexa’s are like listening in on their conversations, people crave this sort of tailored experience. If I’m like scrolling through Facebook and I see an ad for a cat product and I have a dog, I’m almost laughing at the Advertiser who placed that ad because obviously it’s not geared towards me.
What we want to consume Ads, products and content has to be geared towards us. It’s incumbent on us as, digital marketers and advertisers to make sure we’re providing this level of personalized experience.
Trust in Data & Technology
But people are scared, and for obvious and just reasons, with this level of knowledge about individuals comes a very significant level of trust and more so, responsibility. It can be seen as an invasion of privacy if this data is not respected, and often when you speak with technology minded individuals the human aspect of the equation quickly gets forgotten.
When you start applying AI and Machine learning types of technology where the data starts to extrapolate information in such a way that it starts to understand your intents rather than just making predictions as to your desires you really see how it can be used as an enabler. Once and only once the bond between technology and humans is more harmonious will you see a true evolution beyond that of our wildest imaginations. We need to bridge the gap between current capabilities and mans acceptance of such. We are currently capable of some very amazing, customized and personal shopping experiences, but I’m not so sure the consumer is quite ready for it.
As we adopt and accept technology as the accelerator to business growth we will be better equipped to provide a more one to one level purchasing experience.
E-commerce currently lacks that face-to-face personal interaction
Online stores don’t really currently have that retail clerk who can recommend products to you based on your interest tastes or preferences, but many e-commerce companies are starting to leverage this personalization. Currently through something often referred to as predictive analytics, essentially using data to extrapolate predictive behaviors based on current and historical information. An example of this would be using search queries, page visits and purchase history to provide you with recommended products. Taking this one step further and providing Ads tailored to you based on search history coupled with marketing copy that really speaks directly to you is the basic starting point for where all eCommerce companies need to be.
It’s going to only get more and more personalized as we continue down this path.
Customer Experience and Reviews
Another interesting thing when talking about trust, is product reviews. Consumers these days, before they hit that buy button whether it’s on Amazon, Ebay, your website or really anywhere else online for that matter are reading reviews.
If it’s a Facebook Ad, they are reading the comments to see others experiences with it, if its on Amazon they are reading the reviews and checking the number of stars on a product. It doesn’t matter if these people are strangers, consumers are much more willing to trust their opinion as someone who’s out in the real world engaging with this product versus what a brand is telling me. People don’t like to be sold to!
I think it was 94% of all customers say they would not purchase the product after reading overwhelmingly negative reviews about the product.
So, especially when we’re talking about trust you really don’t get too many opportunities to build a reputation as a brand, operating in the e-commerce space it can be very very easy to tarnish your reputation either through, having, a poor customer experience or poor product quality. The later in my opinion is also part of the overall customer experience, but lets not go there today.
It’s really really essential as a business that you again prioritize the customer experience. Make sure that you know customers are very very happy with your product and their overall experience because if they’re not and you deal with a surge of negative customer reviews, you’re really going to shoot yourself in the foot.
If you don’t get a five star rating you need to be reaching out to find out why. This point of contact may not only help that rating bump from a 4 to a 5 but will also provide you with a human to human contact point that is absolutely critical to success in eCommerce. It establishes further confidence in your brand, and also allows you to learn where the pain points of a specific product or experience lie with your customers. If we circle back to the factor of trust once more, it is important to note that in today’s online environment, we are more inclined to trust the opinion of the “Collective” than the promise of one. Those overall review scores are almost becoming more important than your best friends opinion who directed you to the given product in the first place.
Let me ask you a simple question, if your friend is recommending you a product that is getting 3-star reviews are your going to buy the product without scrolling down to read the reviews, or are you going to just click buy because your friend liked it!? I might start reading the reviews, just to do my due diligence. I still may buy the product but I want to read those reviews to find out for myself.
It’s almost becoming more powerful, independent product reviews on the website, then old-fashioned word of mouth.
We may very much take our friends advice to heart, before we purchase or consume just about anything. But it really becomes the beginning of your customer experience, and reviews act as a powerful reinforcement and validator.
The biggest takeaway
Start by delivering a quality customer experience from the perspective of how they engage with your website. Be listening to your customer, make sure they can get a hold of you easily, that they are able to track their shipments and that you are engaging with them onsite and in social media.
It ultimately goes to giving the customer a solid experience because if you don’t do this you are going to feel the repercussions throughout every step of your business. As Alex explains to us, Facebook is going to penalize you, either by you paying higher CPMs or as in many cases your ads will be unable to serve on their platform…
If you’re on Shopify these days and you’re not delivering products to people in seven days or less they are going to kick you off their platform
Your bank’s you will have issues with chargebacks, consumer returns will impact fulfillment processes, he list goes on.. It all sounds pretty straightforward, but a lot of people overlook or try to cut corners on many of these different aspects when they’re trying to get their business off the ground or maximize margins that they ultimately pay for it elsewhere.
From a practical standpoint, what are the biggest pain points for the customer experience and eliminate them. Find out what is causing people pain and friction when trying to purchase your product; Eliminate it! I know it sounds far more simplistic than it is, but it’s very true and not overly complicated if you ask questions then, listen and look for the answers.
They can be found everywhere, from direct customer communications, data driven analytics.
P.S. If you liked this discussion, you should look to these shows from the Archives:
Everything You Need To Know About 5 Star Reviews