Delighting Digital Customers

By Matt Urich, Client Services Manager

While the primary intent of ecommerce is to provide a customer an experience that is focused on speed and convenience, the “experience economy” has seeped into online buying.  Through a host of strategies intended to delight online customers, savvy companies can provide a personalized customer experience that enhances loyalty, increases sales, and improves general customer satisfaction. 

A good online customer experience starts prior to purchase, and most critical to the shaping of that experience is page design.  While Amazon still dominates the e-retail sphere, many forgo shopping at Amazon for branded sites.  Companies that are particularly successful at peeling commerce from Amazon have webpages which create a sense of community and engender trust in the brand and product.  The pages of these companies convey a degree of expertise and authenticity by emphasizing the “why of their products” in lieu of highlighting the most recent sale or promotion.   Sites also succeed in enhancing perceptions of their brand on their sites with the inclusion of customer engagement components like quizzes, or personalized product bundles, through which they cleverly subvert the commercialization through individualized engagement strategies. 

Even a well-designed page, which succeeds in providing an ideal customer experience needs to be optimized.  As the market changes, and customer’s needs, and sentiments evolve, a good ecommerce site needs to evolve with their customers.  A continuous regimen of organized A/B testing will ensure that your site is functioning to serve your clients at the highest level possible.   A successful testing regimen will require a roadmap, which employs feedback mechanisms to provide quantitative measures about which designs are best suited to delivering peak user experience.  By leveraging analytics, feedback surveys, heatmaps, and user tests insights can be gleaned from your customers journey through your site. From this detail incremental, iterative adjustments to your site can be made, ensuring that your customers experience is optimized.

Post-sale experience is also critical to ensuring and maintaining your customers satisfaction.  This includes the design of the packaging in which the product is delivered.  While packaging used to be a means for companies to differentiate themselves from their competition, it has now become a necessity, as cleverly designed delivery packaging is adopted more broadly.  A confluence of trends has pushed this development.  From the ubiquity of “unboxing videos”, to the fact that primary means of broadcasting conspicuous consumption is via social media, a cleverly designed package has become a critical component for delivering a memorable customer experience.  Further, as consumption has transitioned from a means to an end, to be a support of aspirational lifestyles, the packaging should be an extension of the that products positioning as a lifestyle enhancement.  Well-designed delivery packages can also improve recall and enhance loyalty.  This effect can be enhanced further by incorporation of personalization elements, such as notes.  Product packaging is a perfect opportunity to showoff your brand’s personality and create a connection with your customer.

 Essential to solidifying a satisfying post-sale experience are the follow-up emails.  These serve multiple purposes, and foremost amongst these is an expression of gratitude for the customer’s business.  Since ecommerce denies the instant gratification of a physical sale, post-sale emails should work to assure the customer that the transaction is proceeding smoothly. To provide that assurance, emails should confirm that the order was received, provide expectations for shipment, and provide contact detail for questions.  Additionally, follow-up emails should include links to share purchases on social media, providing additional exposure to your products, and to provide additional opportunity for customers and potential customers to engage with your brand.  Again, these emails should be taken as an opportunity to express and convey authenticity and nurture the relationship with the customer.  Inclusion of humor or personality in the notification emails is ideal.   

While the avenues for creating memorable customer experiences in the digital realm differ from brick and mortar, the fundamentals are the largely the same.  By conveying authenticity and expertise through webpage design and listening to your customer you can engender trust.  Through genuine and well-timed communications, and with thoughtful and unique delivery methods you can delight and build loyalty.  By leveraging these methods, companies are able to create a personalized digital customer experience which can be just as rich and satisfying to their customers as can be found in physical sales settings. 

Baby, it’s Cold Inside.

by Greg Reynolds, Client Services Manager

I had a few packages delivered yesterday, which I forgot to bring inside until I was already sunk into my couch. Since they were just on the porch, I went outside without a coat to bring them in. As the feeling slowly returned to my face, I was reminded of a trip to Chipotle. One which obviously made a negative impression on my dining experience.

In my previous career I traveled for business. A LOT. Although I loved visiting new cities and trying new restaurants, I often craved something that reminded me of home. Oddly enough that was Chipotle. Chicken bowl or bust, am I right? This particular day was very busy. I flew into Boston for meetings, drove down to Stratford for more meetings, and then back up to Portland for an 8am meeting the next morning.  It was dark, raining, and the only light I saw from the highway was the glowing silhouette of that maroon and white chili pepper I’d seen so many times before. I parked my car and ran inside, into what can only be described as Planet Hoth. This place was colder than Wendy’s Twitter account.

I remember sitting there, literally shaking, eating my chicken bowl and making a conscious effort not to drink too much of my already cold Diet Coke. It goes without saying that my chicken was already lukewarm.  At that point you’d think one would be angry about an experience like that. But I found myself tremendously disappointed. When you’re away from home a lot, it’s the little things that matter. And buddy, this was one of those things. I have no shame in saying that Chipotle owns my taste buds. However, this dining experience tasted more like betrayal instead of cilantro lime rice.

As a client services manager, I’ve always advised my clients, past and present, of this one fact: make absolutely certain you leave no room for doubt that each and every customer you serve leaves completely satisfied. Customer perception should be discussed daily, maybe even hourly in the right circumstances. Cliché or not, put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Will I continue to be a loyal customer to Chipotle? Of course.  Did the staff know it was too cold in the restaurant that day? Who knows. What I do know, is that when I finished my meal, I didn’t go back to take an unreasonable amount of napkins to throw in my car like I usually do. And what kind of person doesn’t take napkins to put in their glove box? The kind who doesn’t enjoy having to eat with their coat on, that’s who.

How Do Small Businesses Use Mystery Shopping?

By Ron Welty, Founder & Chief Client Officer

Most small business owners are familiar with mystery shopping, but not all may know the many purposes it can serve.  Here’s a quick outline of how mystery shopping can help your business:

  • Higher-than-normal customer complaints recently – when your complaints spike, you can use mystery shopping to help pinpoint the root cause of what caused those, then use the information reported to help get back on track.
  • Assure your brand promise is met – your customers have expectations of your business and you’ve worked hard to design a service & sales experience to meet or exceed those.  Using mystery shoppers to call, click or visit posing as your typical customers will help you understand if you are, and point out opportunities to do better.
  • You suspect you may have an issue, or you wish to disprove an issue at your business – you can create a scenario around the suspected issue and have a mystery shopper visit, posing as a typical customer, to verify whether it’s really happening or not.
  • Reward your team – mystery shoppers love catching people doing things right!  Mystery shopping can bring you very specific, detailed information that you can turn into a rewards program for your team, building your company culture and taking better care of customers for the long-term.
  • Identify Best Practices – Once identified, these become the basis for training programs across all associates or locations, for sustained improved performance.
  • Owner’s eyes & ears – a small business owner can’t be everywhere at once, and they wonder if things are the same when they’re not around.  Mystery shopping can be your eyes and ears to help you know that your customers are being taken care of when you’re not there.
  • Verify processes – it’s important that associates and managers follow established processes to deliver a consistently great customer experience.  Mystery shopping can verify, with great detail, whether your processes are being followed by all.
  • Check on training effectiveness – small businesses only have so much time and budget for training, and you need to make sure it “sticks”.  The highly detailed reports you receive with mystery shopping programs tell you, quickly, whether your training was effective.
  • Loss Prevention – mystery shoppers can be used to help spot both employee and customer theft or suspected theft.
  • Competitor Intel – want to know what your competitors are up to?  Send mystery shoppers to their businesses posing as their customers!  It’s perfectly legal, brings great insight, and can even help you recruit better associates and managers.

Top Business New Year Resolutions for 2019

As 2018 came to a close, I’m sure you had a chance to reflect on the past year. What worked. What didn’t. Where you are versus where you want to be. The question always comes down to what more can I do to improve my business for 2019? Check out these New Year’s Resolutions for businesses for 2019.

  1. Focus on inclusive leadership
  2. Share knowledge
  3. Adopt a nonprofit
  4. Define goals quarterly
  5. Take time for professional development
  6. Create a healthier work environment
  7. Optimize the customer experience (IntelliShop’s personal favorite)
  8. Improve resource planning
  9. Improve relationships
  10. Develop a culture of learning

Are you implementing any of these resolutions into your business tactics for this year?


Your Online Reputation Matters.

Just how important are online reviews? Well...

  • 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business.
  • 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
  • Customers are likely to spend 31% more on a business with “excellent” reviews.

According to those statistics, I would say that they are pretty important.

A bad review is probably your worst I right? Thank goodness not all online reviews are bad. The motivation behind why consumers feel the need to leave an online review always leads back to the experience they received with your associates or your products. One day you may receive a 5-star review about the great customer service your customer received. The next day you may receive the unfortunate 1-star review. Staying on top of what is being said about your brand online is critical in this highly-centric digital age we are in.

Online reviews now make it easier than ever for consumers to tell others about their good and bad experiences with a business. These reviews help drive in potential customers and keep current customers loyal while setting your brand apart from the rest. With the countless number of review sites on the Internet, it’s no surprise that it would be extremely difficult to track every mention of your brand. That’s why we at IntelliShop created InSocial® - a social media monitoring tool easily showing you how consumers experience your brand online.

InSocial® has countless features allowing you to easily stay on top of your online reputation by:

  • Monitoring 50+ social media rating sites for reviews
  • Reporting on social ratings, rankings on how your company has responded, and much more
  • Providing data on sites where profiles are not established for each of your locations
  • Ensuring your  location information is up to date everywhere on the Internet
  • Monitoring all company locations or a select few you choose
  • Allowing unlimited manager access at no additional expense

For most shoppers, the customer experience begins and ends with online reviews. Whether customers are looking for a new restaurant or product, reviews and profile information affect their purchasing decisions. Contact the customer experience experts at IntelliShop today for more information on one of our newest programs, InSocial®.