User experience is sometimes mistakenly thought of as only applying to business assets like mobile apps or websites. While user experience (UX) is certainly important to your business’s mobile apps and website, it is important to remember that user experience extends beyond customers interacting with your brand digitally.
There are a large number of ways in which customers choose to engage with businesses. Beyond e-commerce and mobile commerce, consider that customers are still interacting with your brand over the phone, via email or by face-to-face transactions at your physical stores.
While developing strategies to make customer experiences better is not new, there is one thing that is, the way that customers now shop. With the introduction of the iPhone ten short years ago, the way that customers approach the shopping process has changed dramatically.
Additionally, you must consider the way that businesses have always tended to view their different sales channels in isolated silos as outdated thinking. These days, the various sales channels tend to be intertwined and work together. If your brand has a lackluster user experience in one of your sales channels, it could be impacting your conversions across the board.
To illustrate, a customer may these days start their purchase process doing research on their smartphone while on their lunch break at work. Reading reviews and checking prices on the items they are looking to buy. From there, if it is more of a high dollar purchase, they may go into a retail store to check out the products first hand before proceeding with the purchase. Finally, they might end up purchasing the selected model via a website from their desktop computer because that is where they found the best price.
The purchase process moves between channels and the various channels are connected and intertwined as customers utilize multiple channels on their way to making purchases. Because of this, you need to make sure all channels are not only working properly but working together. Let’s assume in the scenario above that the buyer had a lackluster experience at the retail store. While they might not call off the purchase entirely, they are then more likely to buy the product from someone else.
Another scenario might be that while the customer is doing research via their mobile device they find that one retailer’s mobile app is much easier to use and has the information they are looking for to make their decision. Perhaps other retailers’ apps are less easy to use or don’t provide the right information to make a decision. In this case, it is likely the customer will continue their purchase journey with the brand that provided the quality mobile user experience.
Because of this new buying behavior, it is important that you create a seamless buying experience for your customers, where the various channels work together to create sales. Here are a few tips on how your business can improve your cross-channel marketing experience.
Don’t let the digital face of your brand be an afterthought
Regardless of where the contact takes place, remember that first impressions matter to consumers. These days, first impressions are often coming from digital touch points instead of the more traditional media outlets of TV, radio, and print. Whether it is in one of your physical stores or via your website, mobile app or Instagram account, you need to create a positive experience for consumers that results in a favorable brand perception. All of these elements are an essential part of your brand that must be cultivated carefully.
Create a seamless experience
With the modern purchase process being one where consumers will freely move from one channel to another, it is essential that they are presented with consistent messaging across all of the channels. Based on a customer’s location, personal preference and the timing of what they are doing, they may choose different ways to interact with your brand and you want them to encounter a cohesive message regardless of what channel they may be using at the moment.
Keep in mind that consumers’ behavior tends to differ depending on which channel they are utilizing. For instance, when customers are on their mobile phones they tend to quickly want to look up a specific piece of information, so they will be intent driven with short engagement times. On the other hand, if they are sitting on the computer at home they will most likely be engaged for a longer period of time. While presenting a consistent message, you want to make sure you align that message on each channel with customers’ behaviors and needs.
With your customers’ purchase journeys beginning before they visit your store or website, it is important that you develop an understanding of the customer journey that they take. Learn when and where it starts and then be careful to look for pain points along the way that you can fix. Perhaps your customers start their journey through a search on Google or via ads in trade journals or any of a number of ways, if you learn where they are starting and where they go from there you can optimize the journey to meet their needs.
Remember that your customers may move back and forth between the various sales channels before making the purchase. Capture and analyze data to develop a better understanding of this journey. Only by understanding the buying process better will you be able to address pain points and optimize it. Consider how the various channels are utilized and work together. Perhaps customers visit your mobile app while shopping in your retail stores to check on product details and availability. You will want to optimize your app to account for this behavior.
Educate both customers and employees
One of the goals for your cross-channel marketing plan should be to help improve the customer experience by helping the customer learn not only about your products but about the various options available to them channel wise. You want to establish a correct set of expectations with regards to product features and price. Mobile apps and websites are the perfect media to help educate customers about products. Make sure you let customers know that you have these digital options available to them as well. Having a great app is of almost no value if your customers don’t know it’s available and how it can benefit them.
Additionally, educate employees on these same product details to make sure they have the correct answers to customer questions and that the information they give out does not differ from what customers find digitally. Variations between what consumers learn digitally and what they learn in a retail location will hurt the image of your brand.