When consumers do business with a company online, they want the total package: product information, reviews, purchasing ability, product and technical support, and a forum for talking with other customers. They want a full-blown user experience. A good user experience starts from the ground up. From choosing your content management system to long-term product support, the key to happy customers is giving them the information they want, right when they want it. Here’s your foolproof four-step plan to making your user experience the best it can be.
Step One: Offer customers a responsive website
E-commerce is at an all-time high so your website may be the first, last, and only place a customer engages with your brand. It’s time to ditch static webpages in favor of an intuitive, responsive website that offers almost everything a brick and mortar storefront could. A new report from Juniper Research estimates more than two billion people will make a mobile commerce transaction by the end of 2017. That means your website needs to look and work great on mobile phones and tablets. Don’t make users work to find all the valuable content stashed across your website. Use heatmap analytics or other tracking tools to figure out where your visitors click to ensure your site provides content and assistance exactly the way you want it to. Don’t let the idea of creating a complex website or content management system deter you. If hiring a development team isn’t in the cards right now, there are plenty of easy-to-use, free, or low cost DIY alternatives. WordPress is a popular option for many businesses that supports a range of site types from simple blogs to product landing pages. The vast ecosystem of third-party plug-ins for WordPress have made it something of a de-facto standard. But you also might want to take a look at Wix or Squarespace.
Step Two: Provide good visuals that describe and support your products
Once your website is optimized, now it’s time to focus on content. All but the most basic content management systems offer options for serving up all kinds of different content including instructional videos, searchable product manuals, and shopping tools that help your customers visualize your products before they buy. Consider offering varied content options that give visitors a choice of how they want to consume your information. Some customers love a clever video highlighting your product’s nuances, while others want to simply scan through text-based lists of its main features. Why not give them both?
Step Three: Engage customers on social media after the sale
Social networks are one of the best things to happen to businesses since the advent of toll-free phone numbers. They provide an easy way to listen in on what your customers are saying and give brands a great opportunity to engage consumers on a much more personal level than other — yet equally important — marketing strategies. Make sure your website has visual representations of all the social networks where you can be found and then go out there and start conversations about your industry, your brand, and your products. Social sites are a great place to cross post videos from your website, images of people using your products, or infographics of the latest industry data. Ensure your social content contains a variety of messages ranging from helpful to simply conversational. The key to a successful media presence is to encourage a dialogue with your customers, not hit them over the head with a barrage of marketing messages every day.
— Official smart USA (@smartcarusa) December 17, 2013
Step Four: Provide long-term customer support with dynamic tools
No one wants to use up a bunch of printer ink every time they have a product question so lose the 24-page PDF user manuals. Instead create interesting visual and text content that’s relevant, approachable, and accessible. The best tech support tools give your customers the right information, right when they want it, without combing through pages and pages of marginally-related information. Consider adding dynamic search tools that do the heavy lifting for your visitors and serve up the content they’re looking for quickly and easily. Branded online community forums are a big hit with customers who want to bounce ideas off fellow users or trade tips and tricks on how to use your product. Forums are also a great way to let users help each other troubleshoot, swap stories, or simply come together to talk about your product. Your takeaway message It’s easy to get distracted coming up with the perfect tagline or the best ad placement and forget that one of the best customer acquisition and retention tools is right under your nose. Maximize what your website offers at every part of the sales cycle and your customers will thank you for it. Image: NEC