Improve Customer Experience: Everybody Wins

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When you exert the effort to improve customer experience, know that you are not only doing something that benefits the customer. It also benefits your business. It can even be argued that you are bound to reap more benefits compared to the favor you are granting your customers.

Doing business is not just about doing the promotions and generating the sales. The need to ensure customer satisfaction is a key ingredient business success. This is particularly true when it comes to online businesses. Cutthroat competition online calls for aggressive efforts in improving customer experience.

Good Design = Good Experience

Design is one of the most important things to bear in mind when attempting to improve the customer experience. It is what the customer sees and interacts with when using a website or online store. As such, it should be carefully planned.

A number of things are involved in coming up with a good design but they can be summed up as follows: intuitiveness and ease of navigation, compatibility, search engine optimization, and aesthetics.

A site is intuitive and easy to navigate when a user does not require any reference or instruction to properly use it. The functions and features should be readily accessible. First time users should have no difficulties using the site. There should be no issues browsing, using the search tool, seeing photos and details of the products being sold, and proceeding with the purchase.

Compatibility, on the other hand, entails the use of a design that properly and smoothly renders on various web browsers across devices and operating systems. There should be no major problems in arranging of elements, displaying graphics, and running content such as videos and other interactive apps. The site or online store should be displayed properly on desktop and mobile devices. For many companies, using responsive design can be advantageous, although preparing a separate mobile version is not a bad idea.

Aesthetics also matters. A site or online store definitely has to look good or at least decent. It should also have a distinctive appeal that separates it from the competition. A visitor should have a good experience that is quickly associated to the site or your brand name. A great-looking site attracts prospective buyers and is generally perceived to be reputable.

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Need for Speed

Speed is an immediate concern for all online businesses. The pages of a site or online store should load quickly. Ideally, a page should not take more than 2 seconds to fully load. Loading time undoubtedly affects on the bottom line. That’s why it’s important to take steps in ensuring quick page loading across the board. The site should be properly coded to avoid problems that result to slowdowns. Images should be optimized. Heavy elements such as videos and audios should be configured to not automatically play.

It helps if in the first place, one considers the capability of the server delivering the content to the end-user. Modern applications would often turn to cloud computing to enable best scalability, whilst retaining the flexibility of starting out small and then scaling up or scaling out as necessary.

Such distributed infrastructures give an opportunity to mitigate traffic spikes and prevent overloads by implementing technologies like content delivery networks, load balancing solutions, and the like.

There any many consideration to choosing the right load distribution solution. Still, it often boils down to question of: what would work best for my network infrastructure.

For those in need, this article on load balancing options explains how different online organizations can benefit from the various load balancing deployment methods and algorithms options.

No matter what option is the right one for you, one notable benefit is high availability, in which the system is designed to avoid service losses, with the goal of 99.9% or 99.999% uptime. Needless to say that high availability is a crucial success factor for SaaS companies, who live and die by their ability to offer stable always-on services.

Security

Aside from ensuring good design and speed, it is essential to pay attention to security. Exposing your customers to threats online is clearly the opposite of improving the customer experience. There should be mechanisms put up to provide reasonable security assurance for customers.

For example, all forms should use HTTPS and SSL encryption. The site or store should be regularly checked for security infirmities, like suspicious files in root folder – or any other folders – which might turn out to be backdoor shells designed to hijack the server and stored private data.
Input sanitization is another must have. This is usually handled by WAFs (Web Application Firewalls) that inspect incoming request and filter out all malicious inputs. This will prevent automated and targeted hacker attacks, keeping your users safe and your business up and running.

Finally, DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks is another threat. These can not only cause prolonged downtime, but also be used to take down your other methods of protection (e.g. you WAF) – leaving you open to hacker attack. Here, once again, it comes down to availability, which is the corner stone of online business model.

Straightforward Presentation and Convenient Tools or Functions

According to data from the National Center for Biotechnology Information and the US National Library of Medicine, the average attention span of humans shrank from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013. It is believed that the Internet and new technologies have significantly contributed to this attention span degradation. Businesses, surely, wouldn’t be trying to fix this attention span problem. Instead, the more logical course of action is to cope, such as by crafting content in such ways that suit diminishing attention spans.

Everything has to be presented straightforwardly. Descriptions for products in galleries, for example, should be brief and not needlessly verbose, and should include catchwords whenever possible. In presenting product galleries, everything should be laid out clearly and intuitively. Avoid using excessive effects. Category trees should be created in ways that make everything browsable with the least number of clicks possible.

Moreover, it helps adding tools, functions, or features that provide convenience. For example, the in-site search facility should always be present so customers don’t have to manually browse through categories and deep links just to find the item they need. A product comparison tool within the site will also be appreciated by most customers. Additionally, having shortcut keys or external links for more detailed product specs can be integrated in the site to make the online shopping experience faster and easier.

Honest Marketing

Ever encountered that moment when you are looking for something online with a specific keyword and you find many search results but hardly any of them matches the item you are searching for? They bear the keywords but they have none of the content you are searching. The experience of being misled by tricky marketing is similar to this, or even worse. That’s why, as a business, you have to make it a point that your marketing efforts are catchy and effective but not deceptive or misleading.

Benefits of Improving Customer Experience

Many traditional businesses already acknowledge the value of striving to create a great customer experience. Online businesses should realize the same. Providing customers a satisfying or even a great experience can turn them into repeat customers. In turn, it converts repeat customers into patrons, and possibly convert patrons into your brand advocates. It’s a process that results in the building of trust and confidence, two things every business will greatly benefit from.

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