In a physical environment like a cafe or a restaurant, people recognise that there are external factors that affect their experiences and that these factors are out of a business control. Hence they naturally have a lower standard for what is deemed a satisfactory experience. They don’t mind queuing a few minutes to get into a restaurant or to make a payment. However, things are not quite the same online. People are far less patient as they expect everything to be at the click of their mouse.
How can you, as an online business, ensure a great experience for your customers? Check out our tips below:
1. Ensure fast website loading time.
According to Kissmetrics, 40% of consumers will leave a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. A research by Microsoft also showed that being 250 milliseconds faster or slower makes a significant difference. At Villa-Bali.com, as the website speed is increased by 30%, we see a 3% increase in average page per session. Loading speed is one of the first interaction you have with customers; it determines whether they will stay to explore or move on to another website. Hence, ensure that your website loads fast.
2. Guarantee consistency across various digital touch points.
A brand’s impression is a mosaic of various touch points, even in the digital world. Social media, website, email, live chat software, everything adds up to the overall impression customers have with your business. People will expect the have the same level of service and consistent experience regardless of which channel they are using. For example, if they have already shared some information via email, they will expect to be able to continue the conversation through telephone without having to repeat the information. Inconsistencies breed confusion, frustration and overtime erode loyalty.
3. Provide sufficient information.
Lack of information creates a poor experience. If people can’t find the answers to their needs on your website, they will not trust your product or service. Put yourself in their shoes and think if it were you, what kind of information you will be looking for, what your next step will be. However, you also need to avoid overwhelming customers with too many data. A website with too much information will look intimidating and discourage people from staying longer. Conduct a few experiments, talk to your customers to find out how they interact with your website and provide them with what they need when they need it.
4. Keep website navigation simple.
A website’s navigation has a big impact on its performance. Not only does it affect SEO ranking, it also affects the site’s user-friendliness and visitors retention. Make it easy for your customers to find what they want. Categories need to be accurately labelled and well-linked. Keeping navigation consistent throughout the site promotes ease of use and increases customers’ ability to find relevant information. While customers don’t necessarily realise the benefits of a great navigation structure, they will be quick to be disappointed with it’s not well done.
5. Design your website well.
Visuals rule the digital world. Whether you like it or not, a book is judged by its cover. While styles and personal tastes vary, your website needs to neat, updated and well-maintained. If your website is filled with texts and has an outdated look, it also affects the overall customer journey. Hence, having a well-designed interface is as important as ensuring that the website is functional and user-friendly. Check out The Webby Awards for some inspirations of good user interface and user experience designs.
6. Add human touch through live chat.
Live chat is one of the ways engage with customers online. If you are an online business, chances are you won’t get to see customers throughout the entire time they interact with your brand. Thus, having a live chat support system is valuable as customers can look for help when necessary. It also increases the number of touchpoints as well as giving you an opportunity to humanise your brand. When we introduced the live chat support in 2014, we immediately saw a 7% decrease in bounce rate. Speaking to someone in the team helps customers understand more about your brand and creates a long-lasting impression.
7. Listen to your customers’ feedback.
Providing feedback is also an essential part of a customer’s journey. Show that you value others opinions by having a feedback channel. Customers are a wealth of information. They will give you information on what’s good and where improvements are needed. Additionally, listening to them also fosters the relationship, increases satisfaction and retention rate. However, make sure that you respond to those queries in a timely manner. Feedback backfires when your reply is slow and unhelpful.
8. Personalise the experience.
A personalised interaction whereby everything is catered to personal preference makes a favourable experience. People are more likely to respond to marketing messages that are customised for them. Develop customer profiles, keep track of the interaction history and train your team to cater to each person’s requirements. Ultimately, this will help to increase their loyalty to your brand.
David Chambat is Chief Executive Officer of Villa-Finder.com, the leading villa booking and distribution platform in Asia, with 1,000+ villas in Bali, Sri Lanka, Phuket, Samui and Mauritius. Villa Finder is a technology company developing innovative tools for owners to maximize their villa distribution. Prior to founding Villa Finder, David managed the development of TVtrip.com, an online video platform for hotel marketing, throughout Asia and Pacific.