Why Speed is Critical to Customer Experience, and How to Achieve It

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Speed is Critical to Customer Experience

Photo by Unsplash, CC0 1.0

Does your business prioritize customer service?

Do you try to resolve issues, answer questions, and respond to complaints efficiently and quickly?

If not, you will lose many customers to competitors who do. Customers today expect stellar and fast customer service resolutions and will only be loyal to businesses that meet or surpass their expectations.

Did you know that 62% of companies ignore customer service emails? Do not be one of those companies.

Your Website

A customer’s first engagement with your brand is often your website. It should load fast with simple navigation so that visitors can find what they are looking for easily.

There are several free tools you can use, such as Pingdom, GTmetrix, and PageSpeed Insights to test your site’s load times.

How long it takes for your web pages to load has a direct correlation with the number of visitors that will stay around and how many will convert.

Below are several areas to focus on improving where speed is critical to positive customer experiences.

Minify JS and CSS Files

Clunky CSS and JavaScript (JS) files can cause your web pages to load slowly. Minifying files is especially important with content management systems like WordPress. Every time you install a new plugin, you are also adding additional CSS and JS files.

Many plugins and themes come filled with extraneous data. As with most WordPress needs, there are many plugins available to help.

By removing unnecessary code elements from your website, it will load faster. When you reduce the size of files such as CSS, HTML, or JavaScript, it will take less time for them to transfer.

Why might you need to do this?

The reason is that developers often leave whitespace, link-breaks, comments, and other code that is not functionally necessary to help them write and review code.

However, they do slow down browsers. Think about an eCommerce site with hundreds of pages. If you do not minify the code on every page, the browser will take longer to load each page.

Choose the Right Hosting Option

The web hosting package and provider you choose will have a significant impact on how your site performs and how quickly it loads.

There are many web hosting plan options from which to choose. All of them will get your site on the web.

However, they differ in how much control website owners have, storage capacity, the technical knowledge required, reliability, and server speed.

The three main options are:

  • Shared hosting
  • VPS hosting
  • Dedicated server

The most common plan is shared hosting because of its ease of use and affordable price point. Shared hosting plans usually offer more than enough resources to handle average websites.

When it comes to customer satisfaction, you already know that speed plays a vital role. Keep in mind that many other factors also influence load times, including software configuration, hardware, and the number of people sharing the same server.

When choosing a hosting provider, be sure to go with a reliable company that can ensure 50,000 monthly users or 2000-3000 daily visitors without service interruptions.

Enable Caching

Website caching makes sites load faster which leads to better customer experience. Without caching enabled, every time a browser requests a page on your site, the server needs to perform time-consuming and complex calculations.

For example, your site will first retrieve the latest posts, locate any sidebars and widgets, and generate your header and footer.

Caching is a layer that stores a subset of data to fulfill future server requests for the same data. When caching is on, a server stores requested data into an HTML file. It is typically quickly put into RAM (random access memory).

The next time a visitor views one of your web pages, there is no need for the server to process information and convert it into HTML.

If you are using WordPress, there are a number of caching plugins to choose from, such as WP Super Cache and WP Total Cache.

Fix Broken Links

Broken links put a drain on bandwidth which affects loading speed. They also make your website look less professional and not trustworthy.

When users click on a link that does not take them to the correct destination, it can confuse and irritate them. It will also cause them to leave your site and probably not come back.

Even worse, broken links are a security risk in that they could take users to malware or phishing sites.

Security is a huge potential problem, especially with open-source platforms such as Joomla and WordPress.

Website owners must do all they can to make it more difficult for hackers to compromise their sites.

So, fix all broken links for faster speed, better performance, and a safer, more satisfactory user experience.

Expand Customer Service Channels

The way businesses handle customer service has changed significantly over the last few years. In the past, there were only a few ways to contact a company, including calling or faxing them.

Today, there are more available methods of communication, such as live chat, SMS, social media, and email that provide speedy interactions.

Companies are tasked with being consistently accessible on multiple channels to provide quality customer service.

Be sure to include real-time engagement opportunities such as live chats to help your business meet users’ expectations of convenience and immediate feedback.

Consumers appreciate easy and quick resolutions to their issues and have no patience with brands that answer slowly or not at all.

Offering multiple channels for customers to interact with you is called omnichannel.

By being available on any channel and offering numerous touchpoints to your customers, you are meeting their expectations.

For example, a customer can start interacting with your brand on one channel and continue the buyer’s experience on another.

Reduce Steps and Processes

When setting up the buyer process, analyze and identify steps that are not critical to the customer journey.

The fewer steps it takes to make a purchase, the fewer time consumers will have to take out of their busy schedules, and the happier they will be with your company.

Do Not Keep Customers Waiting

If you are not doing everything possible to speed up your customers’ experiences, you are pushing them away and off to your competitors’ websites.

Whatever industry you are in, continue to look for ways to deliver a seamless, effortless, and quick customer experience.

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