When did you last devote serious time and resources to improving your customer journey?

Many retailers sideline customer journey optimization. Instead, they focus on boosting metrics that have a clear and straightforward impact on revenue, like conversion rate and average order value. Customer satisfaction takes a backseat.

But as ecommerce grows more competitive, taking a customer-centric approach is vital.

Happy customers are more likely to return to your store and make repeat purchases, thus increasing your sales and revenue. Whether you realize it or not, your customer journey impacts your bottom line in a big way.

Happy customers are more likely to return to your store and make repeat purchases, thus increasing your sales and revenue. Whether you realize it or not, your customer journey impacts your bottom line in a big way. Click To Tweet

In this post, we’re going to give you six proven tips to improve your customer journey. Even if you only implement these tips and nothing else, you’ll put yourself at a significant competitive advantage.

What will you find in this article?

Why Is Customer Experience Important?
What is a Customer Journey Map?
6 Proven Tips for Improving Your Ecommerce Customer Journey
1. Build Detailed Customer Profiles and Buyer Personas
2. Gather Direct Feedback
3. Track the Right Metrics
4. Ensure a Seamless Mobile Experience
5. Pinpoint Your Main “Dropoff Points”
6. Run Long-Term Tests
Conclusion

Sounds good? Let’s dig in.

Why Is Customer Experience Important?

Just why is the quality of your customer experience so important?

This might seem like a silly question. Everybody knows it’s better to have happy, satisfied customers, right?

But there’s a deeper reason. Many retailers sideline user experience optimization in favor of optimization strategies that are more obviously revenue-focused, like conversion optimization. And that seems like a reasonable strategy.

But user experience is so important because it has a direct and measurable effect on all key ecommerce metrics, including conversion rate, average order value, retention rate, loyalty, and more. Money and time spent on defining and optimizing the customer journey are not wasted.

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What is a Customer Journey Map?

In a nutshell, a customer journey map is a visual representation of your customer journey.

It encompasses all possible customer touchpoints, grouped into general stages.

It enables you to see precisely how customers interact with your brand as their relationship evolves from awareness to decision and beyond.
Customer journey map
Customer journey maps are an essential ecommerce tool. (Source)
Because customer journey maps account for all the possible interactions a user might have with your store (both on and off your website), they are often quite detailed documents.

Nonetheless, it’s important to create one. Your map allows you to see your whole customer journey, enabling you to identify problem areas as well as opportunities for improvement.

For a detailed outline of how to create and use a customer journey map, check out our in-depth post on the topic: Customer Journey Mapping in Ecommerce: Examples & Templates.

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6 Proven Tips for Improving Your Ecommerce Customer Journey

Ok, so with the theoretical dimension out of the way, let’s look at six of the best ways to improve your customer journey right now.

1. Build Detailed Customer Profiles and Buyer Personas

Customer profiles form the basis of effective customer journey optimization.

Detailed customer profiles give you deep insights into the needs, pain-points, and desires of your site’s visitors. You can then use this understanding to inform every decision and proposed improvement going forward.

Detailed customer profiles give you deep insights into the needs, pain-points, and desires of your site's visitors. You can then use this understanding to inform every decision and proposed improvement going forward. Click To Tweet

When you view changes to the customer journey through the lens of your customer profiles you can ask questions like, “Does this new design element solve the specific problem my customers are experiencing at this stage of the customer journey?” or, “Will my audience understand and appreciate this new proposed feature?”
Customer profile
Create representative customer profiles for every large segment of your customer base. (Source)
You should create customer profiles for every major segment of your customer base. Most retailers have numerous groups with clearly defined characteristics that shop at their store.

Don’t focus exclusively on your ideal customer profile (ICP). Your buyer personas should encompass all of your current customers, not just your hypothetical “best customer”. Use in-house data and direct feedback when putting together personas.

2. Gather Direct Feedback

Without customer feedback, you’ll never really know how your customers feel. Direct feedback is the fuel in your optimization “machine”.

Gather feedback through on-site forms and via email at key stages of the customer journey.

There are three areas in particular where it’s ideal to ask for customer feedback:

  • At key pre-purchase points on the customer journey – You can ask for feedback at any significant pre-purchase moment on the customer journey. These “moments” include when a customer views a product page, after they’ve added a product to their cart, or when they continue browsing after they’ve checked their add-to-cart page (without completing checkout).

Feedback question before purchase
You don’t need to wait until after purchase to ask for feedback.

  • After a purchase – Ask for feedback on the order confirmation page after a customer has made a purchase.
  • Via email after a customer has tried a product – Once a customer has bought and sampled a product, they have completed a significant portion of the customer journey. Asking for feedback via email also gives you important insight into the experiences of repeat customers.

Another great tip is to offer a reward for responses. Add respondents to a prize draw or provide a discount voucher to incentivize site visitors and customers to engage with your response forms.

OK, so you know where to ask for feedback. But what questions should you ask?

3. Track the Right Metrics

User experience metrics, based on customer feedback, are the most important metrics from a customer journey optimization standpoint.

It’s essential to ask the right questions on feedback forms. You can only calculate certain metrics with the right information.

Track the following customer experience “scores”:

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) – The term “Net Promoter Score” is very common in the user experience optimization world. And for good reason. It’s a reliable indicator of genuine satisfaction. You calculate it by asking your customers, “How likely are you to recommend this service or product on a scale of one to ten?” Then deduct the percentage of negative respondents (less than five) from the percentage of positive respondents (more than five).

Customer feedback form by Hubspot
Your NPS is a reliable indicator of overall customer satisfaction. (Source)

  • Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) – Your CSAT score is a measure of overall customer satisfaction. Ask customers to rate their level of satisfaction after purchase on a scale of one to five or ten. Calculating average customer satisfaction is simple: add up all your scores and divide by the number of respondents.

 

Ask customers about their satisfaction
Ask customers to rate their level of customer satisfaction to calculate your CSAT score. (Source)

  • Customer Effort Score (CES) – Your customer effort score works on the same basis as your customer satisfaction score. The key difference is that you’ll ask customers to rate the level of ease with which they were able to complete a task on the customer journey. “Easy” processes are less likely to cause frustration and annoyance, leading to a better customer experience.

The appraisal of customer's effort is as important as their overall satisfaction
Your customer effort score is very similar to your customer satisfaction score. (Source)
User experience metrics are straightforward and easy to track. Unlike many other metrics, they don’t require large amounts of data processing.

Keep in mind that the purpose of tracking customer experience metrics is to gauge how well you’re improving your customer journey in the long-term.

Check out this article from HubSpot for more information about key metrics and how to track them.

4. Ensure a Seamless Mobile Experience

In terms of total sales, smartphones will account for a third of total ecommerce sales in 2019. And this figure is set to grow in the coming years.
Smartphone sales are increasing day by day
Smartphones account for an increasing number of mcommerce sales. (Source)
It’s essential to give as much weight to mobile touchpoints as desktop ones.

Your mobile website should mirror habits that users have learned from social media platforms like Instagram. Include features like swipeable and zoomable product images, screen-wide CTAs (clickable with either thumb), and minimal design without unnecessary clutter.

Also, offer customers the opportunity to shop through an app.

5. Pinpoint Your Main “Dropoff Points”

Locate your main dropoff points. These areas of your customer journey represent some of the biggest opportunities for increasing customer satisfaction and revenue.

First ask, “Where are potential customers leaving the store without returning?” Then ask, “Why are customers leaving at these specific stages?”
Customer journey map with opportunities
Customer journey maps should include a section on opportunities. (Source)
These two questions enable you to pinpoint the “leaky” areas on your customer journey and make practical changes to seal them up.

6. Run Long-Term Tests

Testing is an absolute must when it comes to optimizing your customer journey.
Before rolling out new changes, ensure a positive impact on customer satisfaction and sales metrics by means of multivariate and A/B testing.

Testing is an essential part of customer journey optimization. (Source)

Committing to long-term testing will ensure two things. First, that you’re able to achieve the best possible customer journey. Second, that you’re able to adapt as customer expectations and habits change more generally.

There is a close link between customer journey optimization and user experience optimization. User experience optimization tends to focus on on-site experiences, whereas the customer journey encompasses all possible touchpoints associated with your brand.

There is a close link between customer journey optimization and user experience optimization. User experience optimization tends to focus on on-site experiences, whereas the customer journey encompasses all possible touchpoints… Click To Tweet

Nonetheless, tools like wireframes and prototypes, heuristics, and UX principles can be valuable during the brainstorming and testing phase.

Here are some articles to check out:

Conclusion

Ecommerce is becoming more competitive. The cost of acquiring new customers is rising. And new stores are opening up daily.

Providing an exceptional customer experience, across all of your brand’s touchpoints, gives you a vital competitive advantage. The truth is that most retailers overlook the customer journey. And that leaves a wide-open opportunity for you.

Commit to optimizing your customer journey over the long-term and customers will reward you. Happy, satisfied customers won’t just return to your store to make repeat purchases. They’ll also tell their friends, families, and colleagues about you.

So, with all that in mind, it’s time to start implementing the tips above!

More Posts

Here are some more posts from Growcode that might be of interest:

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