Are you Confusing Customer Experience with Customer Service?

Customer service and customer experience are two terms that are constantly getting thrown around in business, but do you know exactly what they mean? The phrases are often used interchangeably and, in some cases, thought to be the same thing, but in reality, they are different.

To try and put it simply, customer service is one part of the overall customer experience.

Customer experience is the journey a customer takes with your brand, from gaining initial awareness to post-purchase care and support. Customer service, on the other hand, refers to a single instance when a customer reaches out for help and support during this journey.

What is important to understand is that both are equally as important when it comes to the success of your business. You can’t do one well without the other, which is why it’s so important to understand what they are and how they are different.

 

The Customer Experience

Like we said up above, the customer experience, often abbreviated to CX, is the entire journey a customer takes with your business. It is one of the things that allows you to stand out from your competitors and make you and your brand shine. And for a lot of customers, it can make or break their chances of buying from you again or referring you to their friends, family or extended networks on social media.

It’s so important that from a survey SuperOffice ran with business professionals they discovered that customers spend 140% more and remain loyal for up to 6 years when they rate a company highly for customer experience.

‍Customer experience always involves all the different customer interaction points you have on offer. It covers things like your website and your eCommerce store, your social media channels, any kind of live or video chatyou might offer, and even your in-store experience (if you have storefronts).

The key to creating an awesome customer experience, which is something we should all be trying to do, is to make sure all the different points where a customer interacts with your brand are linked up, easy to use and offer the same level of attentiveness and care. Making things seamless and convenient will pay for itself countless times over.

Offering the ability for customers to jump between channels like from your social media to your website to onto live chat, as part of an omnichannel customer experience is vital.

 

Customer Service

Where it might be hard to come up with an example of customer experience, we can all come up with an example of customer service, be that good or bad, pretty quickly.

Like we mentioned up above, customer service a single instance when a customer reaches out for help and support during their journey, be that at the beginning, middle, end or even post-purchase.

And because customer service makes up one part of the customer experience, providing good customer service is essential to providing a good overall customer experience.

Getting this wrong can be an expensive mistake. Consumers are 2 times more likely to share their bad customer service experiences than their good ones and 82% of customers have ceased business with a company because of poor customer service.

And if you think you have it right, it is always best to triple check that you have. In a survey undertaken by Bain & Company, they found that 80% of companies say they deliver “superior” customer service. When the same question is asked to customers, only 8% of people think these same companies are really delivering.

So, what can you do to get these two right?

Although they’re part of the same journey, the tactics are a little different. The biggest thing to note is that for the most part, customer experience is proactive and customer service is reactive.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared to deliver the best possible customer service at any given time by having processes in place and being timely with responses.

The one thing I can tell you from personal experience is that no communication is way worse than communication that sends the update that there is no update. People hate being left in the dark and letting them know that someone is thinking about or doing something to resolve their issue is worth its weight in that proverbial gold.

We’ve found a few tips that will help you not only develop a great customer experience but tie in customer service and make them both shine.

 

Develop a relationship mindset, not just a transactional one.

You want to be creating relationships with your customers and not look at things as a series of separate interactions that just happen to take place.

This means keeping track of what they’re doing with you and tools like Zendesk and Hootsuite can work well together and bring everything into a single place and when linked with customer purchasing and browsing history you can create a solid profile of who your customers are and the types of experiences that resonate with them.

 

Follow the data and the money will follow.

And following on nicely from that is another great tip. Customer experience is strategic, not tactical, you need to know where the value is coming from, and where you’re throwing good money after bad.

If you know what makes your existing customers both tick and run away, you can optimise to do more of what they like and less of what they hate without the need to just rely on instinct.

Invest in good data with things like user testing, A/B testing and keeping a record as we mentioned above and you’ll for sure get better and what you do.

 

Close the loop between customer service and customer experience and learn from it.

Customer service shouldn’t be a dead-end or an island unto itself. Develop feedback loops between customer service and other key departments. Every single customer service interaction is an opportunity to learn and improve and do better.

If you’re just sticking the information somewhere and patting yourself on the back for a job well done, you’re literally hiding gold. Don’t do that. Share it around and find ways to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

 

Need some help with either?

If you’ve read this and gone ‘that’s great but where do I start?’ you’re bound to not be the only one.

The answer is to come talk to us. We have a team of experts in our Experience team that do this stuff for a living, and they love nothing more than being able to share their wisdom with others.

When you reach out to us, we can have a chat about your goals or frustrations and make a plan to fix them, achieve them or absolutely smash them out of the park. Just know we’re here when you need us.


Here’s What Customers Want From Direct To Consumer UX

If you hadn’t noticed eCommerce is on the rise and has been for a while now but alongside traditional retailers finding a way to get their store online, there has been another shift taking place. It is gaining momentum and there are more and more examples of it becoming a defining point of success for businesses.

What we’re talking about here is Direct to Consumer. More and more manufacturing brands are taking advantage of the benefits of taking total control of a sales channel and selling directly to the people that are using their products.

However, along with all the benefits and just like everything in life, there are a few challenges. One of which is the expectations of your customers. You might expect that they would be the same as what they would be for multi-brand and traditional retailers. And to be fair, that is not a bad assumption to make but new research from Baymard is letting us know that this isn’t the case.

The Baymard research team spent 1,440 hours usability testing and researching Small Catalog, Direct to Consumer website features, layouts, content, and designs leading to their latest research study on Direct to Consumer UX.

The research is based on more than 217 qualitative user/site usability test sessions following the “Think Aloud” protocol (1:1 remote moderated testing).

The test sites covered smaller Direct to Consumer brands with smaller product catalogues including beauty, apparel and accessories, cookware and fitness. Some of the brands included Allbirds, MVMT & Daniel Wellington.

What they found even with testing a broad variety of smaller Direct to Consumer sites, was that users would repeatedly abandon Direct to Consumer sites due to issues with the layout, content types, or features. In fact, the users encountered 1,370+ medium-to-severe usability issues on the smaller Direct to Consumer sites.

For the report, they analysed and distilled the results into 413 guidelines found within their research study. These cover most aspects of the Direct to Consumer experience, at both a high level of general user behaviour as well as at a more granular level of specific issues users are likely to encounter.

What you'll find here is some key highlights that’ll help when you’re working toward getting a Direct to Consumer offer into the market.

 

Things To Consider When Making Direct To Consumer A Success

 

• Customers Want to Get to Know You First

One of the things that Baymard discovered during the research is that where customers of traditional B2C businesses are likely to be looking at the product price, variations and returns policy, for example, when making buying decisions, consumers are rarely making buying decisions based solely on what they think of the brand itself.

In stark contrast, users on Direct to Consumer sites typically want to “get to know” the brand and products at a deeper level before they make a purchase decision. In fact, many users want to feel like the site shares their tastes, values, and goals.

And this is supported by research from Diffusion. They found that perception is driving purchasing with 44% of consumers believing Direct to Consumer brands produce a higher quality product at a lower price point than traditional competitors and nearly a quarter (23%) perceive Direct to Consumer brands to be an authority of what’s cool and on-trend.

All this dictates the type of information you need to provide on your Direct to Consumer site beyond just “the basics”. That being what is expected by users on almost all e-commerce sites. Things like product titles & images of the products. But it also changes where and how the information is presented.

 

• The Homepage is More Important Than You Might Think

What Baymard found during the research is that when consumers are visiting Direct to Consumer sites, a first step for them was to spend more time exploring the homepage than what’s typically observed or expected of users during general B2C testing.

As an example, consumers on more traditional B2C sites like John Lewis or ASOS, will often start by going directly to the search bar or the main navigation, to quickly drill down into the site to begin finding products of interest.

But, during their Direct to Consumer testing, consumers tended to first scroll through the homepage, considering the highlighted content, to determine if they should spend any more time on the site.

 

• They’ll Dig Deeper to Find Information Before Buying

Another thing that came out during the research was that consumers spent more time digging deeper for particular pieces of information. This included heading to About Us pages and for lists of faqs so that they could answer not only basic questions but also more specific ones.

Our tip here is to 1, make sure the information is on the site and 2, it’s easily accessible. This should help entice consumers to stay around longer. If they’re able to answer a question with a piece of information either about your brand or products it could pique their interest and engage a buying motivation.

 

• How the Site Looks is Just as Important as What is on it

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder and the devil may be in the detail but there is one thing that the research found that, for me, has always been a suspicion.

When it comes to big retailer websites, the ‘industry experts’ can point out the differences all day but to the standard end-user, they’re much the same. While some aspects of design differ, for most users the design aesthetics of larger e-commerce sites rarely have much impact on their decision whether or not to purchase from the site. For them, usability is much more of a driver.

However, when it comes to the smaller Direct to Consumer sites, users tend to want to feel like a site is representative of their own individual taste, or at the very least that the site’s design aesthetics aren’t offensive to them.

And take note of this little insight. The research found that some users during testing were observed to abandon sites solely due to their dislike of the design aesthetics — not even venturing off the homepage to support their decision.

Now, what nobody would ever advocate is trying to cater to every individual user’s personal design-aesthetic preference because frankly, that is an impossible task. But pulling in some of the more eccentric design decisions and going for a simpler but still, bespoke approach was observed to perform well for most users.

 

Final Thoughts

Direct to Consumer sites have many challenging tasks facing them when it comes to perfecting the user experience.

There is no one size fits all approach, and each brand is going to face a slightly different set of challenges, but the good news is that the research is out there to help and even more importantly, there are experts out there that have made this their business and passion.

One of those businesses is us. At Eclipse we’ve got a team of experts in the Customer Experience team that can design, implement, test, optimise and further develop the customer experience for your business and drive continued growth through conversion rate optimisation and a long-term optimisation strategy.

Through user testing and experience testing, directly with the types of people that buy your products, the research and data help remove emotion and gets to the core of creating a great customer experience.

All you need to do is reach out to us and have a chat. We’re here to help you build, test, develop and optimise your Direct to Consumer channel.

And if you’d like a copy of the research, you can get access to all 413 DTC UX guidelines, available today via Baymard Premium access.


Tips for Creating Interview Videos for your Business

We’ve been somewhat limited with our ability to interview people in person during the pandemic resulting in many creating videos with Zoom or Microsoft teams which can limit production quality, but as we come out the other side, we’re going to be allowed to get a little more creative.

I’ve had a fair amount of experience doing this and although these tips are angled a little more toward setting up interviews with clients for testimonials or maybe with external thought leaders, they can just as easily be applied to videos you create for internal purposes.

What we’re talking about here is what is referred to as a ‘talking head’ video. These are interview-style videos that traditionally have a focus on the person speaking to the camera and will have a background that is either a plain colour or maybe an office setting that is blurred out a little.

To start with let’s take a look at the equipment you’ll want to get your hands on.

 

 The Tools to Get the Job Done.

 

 The Camera

Things have moved along a lot in this area and to be honest, anyone with a decent smartphone is now equipped with a camera that can produce a great video.

I’ve always been an advocate of the iPhone but what you really want to make sure of is that it has a great lens on it (or maybe a couple if you’re using a newer smartphone) and that it can record in HD. Ideally, it’ll also have a large memory capacity as recording in HD can take up a ton of space.

Alternatively, if you’ve got access to a DSLR, you’ll be able to capture footage with a little more control over the quality of the capture, primarily down to the fact that you can switch out the lenses on them.

The quality of the lens can have a massive change on the output and in most cases is more important than the camera is it being attached to. We could write an entire article just on lenses but what you need to remember is cheap glass could result in cheap results.

You want to try and achieve ‘Bokeh’ in the shot. This is the blurry background we talked about earlier in this piece. Our pick would be to go with a 50mm or an 85mm lens. Once you’re in front of the camera these lenses will bring you closer and push the background out. If you can’t get access to a prime lens, a lens that gives you the ability to move between them can achieve the same thing. Something like a 24-105mm is ideal.

This picture is a great example of bokeh. The background is blurred and you can see it is working by the light appearing a little orbs.

 

Lighting

More important than the camera is the lighting. You could have the best camera in the world but if it is in a poorly lit room, your result will look awful.

If you’re doing a quick shoot and can get into daylight, you can achieve a pretty good result, but you need to remember that natural daylight moves and changes. The longer the shoot takes, the more likely there are to be differences in the footage you shoot, giving you an editing nightmare.

If you can, get into an environment where you have total control of the lighting. This will help to maintain a constant look.

Now, when it comes to picking lights, you’ll want to make an investment in them. My personal setup includes 4 portable lights with tripods that give me the ability to move them around the subject and add light where it is needed.

I have two backlit LCD panels that give me control not only with being able to dim them but also adjust the colour temperature too. This can help add and remove warmth from the footage you shoot. This is what stops people either looking orange from too much warmth or dead from too much cool light.

The other two lights are RGB lights which can again, dim when needed and adjust warmth but they can also change to just about any colour you can think of. This is great for adding a touch of style to the background and can also be used as a fill light when needed.

Positioning the lights and getting the brightness and colour right will take a little time and you’ll want to have the camera set up the entire time you’re doing the setup so you can see what it’ll look like.

Starting with a 3-point light setup is a good way to go. This article gives you a little insight into what that looks like.

This is an example of the 3-point lighting setup

 

Sound

If you’ve got the lighting right and the camera capturing it well it should look awesome but just as important is how it sounds.

The camera and the phone will have a microphone in them, but it can pick up a lot of background noise and echo if the room is busy, big, filled with hard surfaces or is near an area of high traffic like a hallway or a window near a busy road.

Investing in a microphone that can be mounted to the camera is a good start. They tend to be directional and should minimise the sound bleed and instead focus on the person it is being pointed at.

Even better but less useful if you’re interviewing multiple people is a lapel mic. These are close position mics that will shut out background noise and only pick up the person speak. They make a huge difference. They are pretty cheap and worth investing in as it tends to be the one I go for when I am talking to only one person. I also have an on-camera mic for larger groups.

Essentially you need to get a mic. Without it, the sound is going to be pretty bad, and people are not going to stay tuned if the video is hard to listen to.

With these 3 things in place, you’re in a good position to get something put together. The next few tips are on capturing the footage and editing it to look great.

 

Putting the Pieces Together

 

Filming the Interview

You’ve got the camera, lighting and sound rocking, now it is time to film the interview. You’re either going to be doing this with a person behind the camera asking questions and the person in front answering them in a pretty natural way or the person in front of the camera has a script and they’re delivering it directly.

If it is the first one, the person answering the questions should try to not look directly down the camera. It can come off as an interrogation video if they do. Ideally, they should forget the camera is even there. The latter should be looking at the camera as essentially the conversation is direct with the person watching the video.

Keep the camera running. Having lead in and out footage is always handy when it comes to editing. You can always scrap the stuff you don’t use but you can’t get back the stuff you didn’t record.

You also want to try and keep the footage as clean as possible. What I mean by this is making sure that you have a long stretch of footage without mistakes. If they make a mistake, stop them and let them breathe and then go back to the start point and try again.

It is not easy to get this right the first time but make sure they at the very least go back to the start of a full sentence. Editing midway through a train of thought is impossible to hide. People move and blink and if you crop cut between two pieces of footage it will create a jump cut. This is where the footage obviously moves in front of the eye.

This style of editing has become more and more popular due to the rise of YouTubers but personally, when it comes to business videos, you want to try and keep them to a minimum.

 

Capture ‘B’ Roll

B roll is the technical term for all the supplementary footage you record. If you’ve spent time watching these styles of video, the B roll tends to be the shots of the office or people working. It could even be stock footage used to move the story forward.

You want to have this because it can be used to fill in space around the interview or could be used to switch out to and leave the voice footage from the interview playing. It comes in very handy when you have a jump cut, you’re trying to hide too.

The trick here is to just record as much as you can. Again, you can never have too much of this type of footage.

 

Editing it all together

This is the final step in the process and really is where it comes together and starts to form the final piece. Our advice here is to work toward some kind of story. If you can create an outline to edit toward it will make it easier.

Any story has a beginning, middle and end so having it laid out allows you to make sure that the video is following a logical path and is moving toward a structured outcome.

Start long-form and get everything you want rather than trying to fit a time limit. This creates your directors cut that can then be cut down into various other formats.

When it comes to editing tools there are a bunch out there but I use either Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere but if you’ve got access to a Mac it’ll have iMovie on it for free and it’ll do a grand job. iMovie also has apps for the iPad and the iPhone so there are plenty of ways to get a good edit done.

 

Final Thoughts

People love video content and there is no better time to give it a go. If this all sounds like a lot of work (and it can be) you could always hire a professional. If you do, this article should work well as a guide to making sure you’re asking the right questions and putting together a brief that gets you the video you want.

And if you do hire a professional take note of what they’re doing. Marketing teams need to be getting too grips with this type of content, it is going to be more and more important in the future.

If you've got any specific questions that you think I might be able to answer for you, you can always drop me a question using the contact form on the website. Just select other as the service and make sure you drop my name into the message and it'll get straight to me.


Building a Business People Trust

Trust is one of those things that often gets forgotten about. Businesses can get carried away with the brand, offer and messaging and just assume that as a result of their first impression or grandiose ambitions trust is implied and everyone just gets it.

The truth of the matter is that trust is something that needs to be built and worked on. It is no different to a relationship that two people have with each other when they’re dating. Trust is not given over lightly, and it can be very easily broken.

If you look back over the years, there are plenty of examples of businesses that have competed with each other and the reason one fell flat is partly down to trust. Leaving it to chance will almost always result in it not developing.

Marcos Aguiar, a Digital Trust Advisor, did a recent Ted Talk on this topic and through the years of his experience and research, he had been able to isolate the 7 things he sees as the tools that will help leaders design a foundation of trust into their business ecosystem to help achieve long term success.

Watch the Ted talk below and see how you stack up against the 7 tools Marcos and the team at BCG discovered. And if you’re looking for a little more insight into the research, you can check out their blog, ‘Building Trust In Business Ecosystems’.

 

7 Tools For Building a Business People Trust

 

 

If you need a little help with working on these elements of building trust into your business strategy, Eclipse is here to help. We have a team of business consultants and strategists that understand how to help you discover what makes your customers tick and can work with you to develop an experience that will help you build trust. Reach out to us and we can have a chat.


Is This the Future of Returns for eCommerce?

Shopping is one of the great British past-times and we love it, but sometimes we buy things that just don’t fit the bill and we’re put into what can feel like an arduous task, returning them.

As much as the eCommerce experience has increased hugely and it has become easier to get the stuff we want, the thing that to me feels like it has been forgotten about is the other end of the process. We ultimately don’t set out to buy stuff to have to return it, but it can be unavoidable.

If you’ll allow me a moment to get onto my soapbox, I’ll share a recent experience of mine.

 

The Returns and Exchange Process Right Now

Having recently returned to the UK it now just happens to be the case that my mother’s birthday and Mother’s Day fall in the same month, literally days apart. As I always do, I headed online to buy up some gifts to make sure she would see how much I appreciate her.

The Mother’s Day gift was an easy pick, I knew what I was getting would be perfect and would do the job nicely. When it came to her birthday gift, I wanted to push the boat out and bought something that was size reliant.

It arrived and the big day came and although I had picked her size, the item came up a little small. ‘No worries, I’ll get them changed for you’ I tell her. She decides that she would prefer a different style and maybe we should go up a size ‘just in case’.

Thankfully the sale came with a returns label in the box, and I was to tick a box and drop the paperwork back in with the product and get it sent back. Of course, before we had completed this we had been online looking for the new items we wanted to exchange the product for.

I kept thinking to myself ‘Why can’t I pick the item I want so that when they get it back and declare it fit for return, they can just send me the new ones?’ This wasn’t an option, so I followed the process, sent it back and waited for the refund, before buying the replacement.

Whilst we waited, I thought to myself ‘Maybe there might be a better deal out there or something else she might like instead?’ which of course left me browsing the internet on several different retailer’s websites looking at other things. I ultimately decided not to buy something else and to go back and get the original chosen replacement, but I wondered how many other people in the same position just would not bother, resulting in a lost sale for the retailer.

For those of you who are wondering, the replacements did arrive but being a different style meant the size up was a bad idea so we had to go through an exchange process again but with the stores opening up again decided to go in-store in the hope that we could simply change the size.

The lockdown meant that most of the stock you’d expect in the store was not there due to older stock having been left to float around but we were able to change them and get new ones sent to the house without having to do the refund/repurchase dance.

 

There Has Got to be a Better Way

This wasn’t the first time I had dealt with this type of thing and it always plays on my mind when I buy something from a new store or a new brand. The risk of having to wade into the process of returning things can sometimes overwhelm the excitement of buying them in the first place.

I couldn’t get the idea of being able to pick the item I wanted in exchange before sending it back out of my mind. Surely this wasn’t radical thinking? Someone must have thought of this before and surely, I wasn’t the only one wanting it as an option when shopping.

The answer to those questions came to me during a google news search. I spotted an article on Adweek ‘Affirm to Buy Returnly for $300 Million as Ecommerce Returns Spike During the Pandemic’ and it caught my attention.

I hadn’t heard of Returnly before but another quick google search got me to their home page and I’ve got to say what I found, brought absolute pleasure to my heart.

 

The Better Way

Self-described as ‘a return experience like no other’, they give customers the ability to pick the right item before sending back the wrong one. This is exactly what I had talked about when I was going through the returns process. Putting control of the experience in the hands of the customer is what good customer experience is all about.

I should point out that we’re not affiliated with Returnly but after having discovered them, I felt it was worth letting retailers know that they should be taking a serious look at what they’re offering.

Allowing customers to exchange for size, style or a completely different product directly from the return’s portal is brilliant customer experience. Returnly pays for the order on behalf of your customers, so they can get the right item before returning the wrong one.

And if the customer is not in the market for an exchange you can give customers a smooth return experience that automates the return and refund process altogether, so your team can focus on more valuable work.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what Returnly can offer both you and your customers and as a customer myself, if I was to purchase from a retailer that offered this level of refund and exchange it would almost certainly become a driving factor in whether I chose to make a purchase from other retailers I came across in the future.

Retailers work so hard to get people onto their stores and to get them shopping with them, so why would you put any level of risk around them not coming back because of an old or broken return and exchange process.

Working to retain relationships with existing customers should be as important, if not more so, and it appears that sometimes businesses can forget that. Paying attention to the entire lifecycle and making sure the customer experience is seamless and well-designed can only be a good thing for everyone.

Go take a look at what Returnly has to offer and see if it could work as part of your offering to your customers. I’m sure both you and them would benefit from an enhanced post-purchase journey.

And if you'd like help enhancing your customer experience across your entire site, we can help with that. Our Experience team are experts at enhancing and creating design, UI, UX experiences and developing and implementing conversion rate optimisation strategies across eCommerce. Come talk to us about your site and let's make a plan together.


Things Customers Hate About Websites (So You Might Want to Avoid Them)

Websites have been around for what feels like forever at this point and people spend a lot of time online. The amount of time people spend online has only increased massively since the covid-19 pandemic changed the way we live our lives.

As a result, we’ve all been exposed to more websites than ever before and there are things that some of them do that really annoys us. So much so that people will turn around and get the heck out of dodge, not sticking around to take a look.

We’ve done a little research and found the things that annoy people the most. Hopefully, your site isn’t guilty of anything of these things but if you are, now you’ll know and you’ll be able to fix it.

As always, if you need a little help the team at Eclipse are here for you. So, let’s take a look at what we found. And so you’re aware, there is no particular order to these, you’re going to want to fix them all.

 

Multiple Pop Ups That Come Out of Nowhere

Don’t get us wrong, if used well it is a great example of a feature that can help drive positive visitor engagement and can often be a good User Experience. A strategic pop-up – such as an exit notice or notification of an event or specific piece of content that relates to the page they are on – can be effective.

The problem comes in when pop-ups are everywhere, repeat way too frequently or are just plain nonsensical. It causes distractions and visitors to the site don’t want to have to be dealing with having to keep shutting down intrusive mini windows. You can be assured that their next click is likely to be away!

You did all the hard work getting them there, why put up barriers and click tests all over the place that distracts from the reason they arrived in the first place.

Ensure the marketing team is thinking about what is there already before adding a new one and always ask the question, do we really need it?

 

Slow Loading Pages

This feels like one we shouldn’t have to talk about anymore. Surely everyone understands that slow-loading pages are annoying. Having said that, it is still a problem for a lot of websites out there.

Visitors to your site expect swift loading times, and responsive website designs that function brilliantly on all browsers and devices. If you’re offering a slow experience, the visitor is going to bounce.

Amazon found that just a one-second delay could cost Amazon $1.6 Billion in sales – head here to find out why.

You can always check your load speed performance and you should do it regularly. Just head to Google’s page speed tool and enter your URL.

 

Little or No Contact Information on the Website

Having contact forms across the website and on your contact us page is great, and it is definitely something you should be using, but it can’t be the only way to allow people to get in touch with you.

It should not be a quest for fire when anyone goes looking for an email address or phone number. If your visitor or customer needs help, they want it now. They don't want to fill out a form and wait to see when, if ever, they get a response.

Let people get in touch with you via email, phone, and social media, and make that information available on your website. And if you’re able to man it well, live chat can be a great way to deal with quick questions people may have.

 

Asking for Too Much Information, Too Soon

So, your customer has added some stuff to the cart and is ready to check out but now you’re asking them to give you their life story before they can hand over the money. This is the fastest way to drive up cart abandonment and drive your conversion rate into the ground.

Requiring registration or even an entire account set up, before any transaction is a terrible idea. Users will be at best reluctant and at worse highly suspicious. It’s far better to let them check out as guests and offer them the ability to create an account post-purchase, should they choose to create one. And why would they be likely to do it post-purchase? Shipment tracking.

A usability test run by Jared.M.Spool allowed customers to continue and purchase on e-commerce websites without the need to register and the results were phenomenal. “The number of customers purchasing went up by 45%. The extra purchases resulted in an extra $15 million the first month. For the first year, the site saw an additional $300,000,000.” – Read the full article over here.

 

Spelling Mistakes and Out of Date Information

This is a pretty simple one, just don’t do it. There is little to no reason to have spelling mistakes all over the place.

There are countless tools, such as Grammarly and Hemmingway that take the basic spell check and kick it up a gear. Spelling mistakes really are in the category of unacceptable and drive down trust with potential buyers. It is also just plain unprofessional. If attention to detail on the website is missed, just think about what impression you’re making regarding customer service. It does little to create ‘good faith’.

Out of date information falls much into the same category. You’re doing nothing to help build trust with both new and existing customer relationships by having it all over your website.

It talks about the attention to detail and duty of care. Personally speaking, I am not about to drop any money on a purchase with a website that gives me a moment to pause and think about its legitimacy.

 

You’ve Got Broken Links All Over the Place

It’s hardly a shocker that users want websites that work. Clicking on links that lead to a 404 – page not found is more than annoying. It doesn’t matter how cool or quirky you’ve made the page, visitors just don’t want to see it and in all honestly, there should be little reason to have broken links all over the place. It also creates other problems. Did you know broken links can also hurt your SEO?

When Google's search engine crawlers discover broken links on your page, it decreases your site's search rankings putting those sites with working links right in front of you.

It is common for links to break from a site migration, page update, change in site architecture, or even just a typo but before you make any changes make sure that you add link checking or re-direction to the task list. Don’t let it become an afterthought.

Broken links interrupt the user experience and ultimately translate to lost revenue for your business. A good web developer can do wonders in helping you fix your site’s broken links. You can also make sure your links are all working by crawling your site with a program like Screaming Frog or SEMrush.

 

This is Just the Tip of the Iceberg

The problems mentioned so far are undeniably annoying, but it just scratches at the surface of what drives people crazy and pushes them away from your site.

Things like difficult or broken navigation, out of date look and feel, bad cheesy stock images everywhere, not working on all browsers and devices and having forms with way too many fields that need to be filled in before they can be sent kills the user experience.

Getting a website audit done and starting a continuous programme of conversion rate optimisation that builds on driving iterative change and improvement to your site is the best way to tackle the problems, improve on the experience you offer and make sure that you’re making the most out of the customers that visit your site.


Convenience Is Key For Customer Satisfaction.

When it comes to shopping we’re all looking for the quickest, easiest way to get what we want when we want it, however, we want it. In other terms, we are looking for the most convenient way to get the stuff we need.

When it gets a little too hard or barriers are put in the way of what we’re trying to achieve, we go somewhere else.

To achieve this always-on, effortless mindset that consumers have, retailers need to adapt to and embrace Total Commerce. This means as you might have guessed from the opening gambit, meeting the customers wherever they want to shop and, on the terms, they want to purchase. This might sound like a huge task but you can go some way to offering this without ‘selling the farm’.

In some latest research by the team at Linnworks, they found how convenience is more important than ever to time-pushed consumers, and how those retailers that get the customer experience right, will win the sale every time.

During the last year and a bit, necessity has meant that consumers needed to switch to online shopping just to keep getting access to the things they needed, and they did this in droves. The pandemic accelerated the shift that was already happening, and some won’t now shift back, with three in four consumers saying they will be shopping online more after the pandemic than before, discovered in the research conducted by Linnworks.

It’s a big change and even though some retailers seem to have taken it in their stride better than others, they all need to understand both what’s caused the behaviour change and what they need to do to keep up with it.

For nearly three-quarters of consumers, the major factor that drives their desire to shop online more is convenience. Although it has been the only solution for a while now, online retail has always offered an easy solution for many consumers that juggle working from home or at the office and that have to deal with schooling and childcare. Customers have appreciated its benefits. Benefits that all consumers dealing with the pandemic discovered when they had their hand forced as a result of lockdown. And, as a result, that desire for convenience still reigns supreme today and will continue to be a key decision factor when it comes to deciding to make a purchase.

 

Convenience is King

Linnworks research, titled ‘The Effortless Economy: A New Age of Retail’, surveyed 1,000 consumers in the UK and US to understand the change in consumer behaviour. It overwhelmingly indicated that effortless experience was what people wanted, with convenience a top priority when choosing a retailer for more than three-quarters of consumers.

What’s important to take note of here is that it is beginning to outweigh other purchasing decision factors too. Nearly half of consumers say they are now more influenced by convenience than price and a similar amount will sacrifice cost savings for convenience. It’s not only appreciated but increasingly expected – it’s become a lever that can be used as a unique selling point.

And it’s been confirmed by other research too. The National Research Federation found that 97% of shoppers have abandoned a purchase over a lack of convenience and 83% say that convenience is more important to them when online shopping than five years ago.

 

That’s all great but what does convenience actually mean?

All the research indicates that consumers may be putting convenience at the top of the list but what does that mean for retailers, and what do they need to do? The research found a few key things, that almost all retailers can do something about, came out on top.

Firstly, the ability for a guest checkout and to shop across different channels and devices, with as little disruption to the customer journey as possible. Then came easy shipping, with the ability for shipping details to be remembered for future purchases.

This all goes back to what we talked about at the beginning. We all want fast, easy, totally seamless shopping experiences, wherever we are in the buyer’s journey. If we don’t get it, guess what. We will go elsewhere.

The Linnworks research uncovered that two in three consumers have abandoned purchases because they found sites too complicated, and more than half have walked away from retailers entirely. These are figures you need to take note of. If you ignore them, they will hit you right where it hurts most, your bank account.

 

Here’s what you need to do

 

  • Understand how customers shop and make it easier for them to do it in multiple ways

Your brand and shopping experience must be delivered on whatever channel the buyer is on. That means making it as easy and pain-free as possible. Different parts of a purchase journey will most likely be completed on different devices. Linnworks research showed that 81% of customers are looking for a frictionless, cross-device eCommerce experience and that more than half (51%) have abandoned a purchase because they were forced to start the process again when they switched devices.

And when it comes to shopping your social, if you get it right, you’re likely to pick up new customers. The research found that 35% of people have already purchased through social and that 27% more are open to the idea.

One of the key numbers in the research around social is that 71% of those who shop on social would rather complete the purchase on social than be sent to the retailers’ website. This fundamentally changes what most are doing when they choose to advertise on social. Integration with Facebook and Instagram shopping is becoming core to your social selling strategy.

 

  • Offer multiple payment options and make them easy to use

Convenience within payment is about seamless and flexible payment options, with nine out of ten shoppers saying it helps speed up their decision making and prompts them to spend more. This means going beyond just accepting credit cards and into options like PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay and as some businesses are starting to offer, accepting cryptocurrency.

A guest checkout option, wanted by 56% of people, allows an even speedier path to purchase. It’s the consumer’s biggest ask.

Consumers are also embracing new, more flexible, convenient payment options, such as buy now pay later. These services are growing 39% a year and nearly four in five shoppers expect brands to offer this as standard, especially on everyday items such as clothing, and around a quarter of consumers have already used it or plan to.

 

  • Offer delivery and return options that the consumer wants

The importance of delivery on customer loyalty can’t be overestimated. A massive 95% of consumers say that convenient delivery options are a major factor in their choice of an online retailer.

Offer next day delivery and click and collect options are rated highly for convenience. Customers want similar convenience when it comes to returns, with nearly nine in ten (89%) saying they don’t want customer services involved with returns, with 87% expecting a pre-paid return label and almost half (47%) saying they are more likely to shop with brands that offer self-service returns.

But this could be taken one step further. Offering the ability to arrange exchanges through your site whereupon new items are sent out when the originals are returned and processed removes the need to wait for refunds to be processed and keeps shoppers with you, rather than looking somewhere else.

 

  • Understand the role of the marketplace

Even though cross-device functionality, guest checkouts and easy shipping topped what consumers looked for when it came to convenience, there is a fourth thing retailers must consider as they strive to deliver convenience – that is the role of third-party solutions such as the marketplaces.

The convenience of online marketplaces, where consumers can shop a wide range of products from a variety of retailers on one platform means it’s a popular channel, with 91% starting their purchase journeys on marketplaces.

But it can be a double-edged sword for many. Yes, they’re convenient but they can also be overwhelming. Nearly half of consumers have abandoned marketplaces because there were too many options, and more than three-quarters (76%) say they would prefer to shop on a branded site or directly if such brands were able to match the convenience of online marketplaces.

This presents a huge opportunity for retailers to deliver a customer experience that keeps shoppers coming back to them directly, bringing the benefits of increased margins and customer shopping data.

 

Final Thoughts

Retailers today need to focus on and win at the idea of delivering an effortless experience by providing a seamless omnichannel journey and a second to none customer experience. We can’t afford for any part of our business to work in isolation and to not be easy and convenient for the consumer to shop.

You’ll find more on the research that Linnworks conducted by downloading their whitepaper on their site. It’s a great read and gives valuable insight that will drive your strategy for 2021 and into the future as you strive to offer the convenience that consumers are looking for.

And if you're looking for someone to help you work these ideas into your eCommerce strategy and enhance your customer experience, come talk to us. We have teams of experts that can help you in the the areas that Linnworks highlighted in their research.


Conversion Rate Optimisation Statistics You Need To Know | Infographic

We spend a huge amount of time, effort and money getting people to our websites. This might seems like a pretty hard task at times but in all honesty, it is the easy part. The challenge comes in when you try to get those visitors to convert.

This is by far the most important part.  The smallest difference in your conversion rate can make a big difference on your bottom line. If you can increase your conversion rate a single percentage point from 1% to 2%, you could double your revenue.

We came across an awesome blog by Startup Bonsai where they pulled together a list of CRO Statistics and we took a few of the key ones and put it into this infographic. They're the stats you need when it comes to winning over the key stakeholders in your business on the subject of CRO and the benefits of an investment into a long term CRO strategy made up of continuous testing and improvement.

Give it a read, share it around and when you're ready to create a strategy and put it into action, come talk to us.

 

 

Keep an eye out for our upcoming infographic on CRO tips and tricks and our next eBook, the first in our 'How To' series, How to Take a Business Online.


Understanding the Ecommerce Life Cycle is Vital to Your Business Strategy

Businesses are not one-size-fits-all. The same cannot be said for the eCommerce strategy life cycle. To succeed, you must understand the importance of adapting your eCommerce strategy to each phase in its life cycle.

In the beginning phases of a business's life, their focus is usually on gaining traction and recognition. Once they have done this, their next goal will be reaching more customers by expanding into new markets or finding innovative ways to increase revenue.

But before we get too far into the life cycle itself, it is important to understand that your eCommerce strategy should evolve throughout its life cycle. The different phases of the life cycle are filled with ups and downs, trying times, and successes. Each phase may require drastic changes to stay afloat and make progress.

It's hard enough running a business but if you do not adapt as necessary during each phase of the eCommerce strategy life cycle, you will find yourself floundering or even worse - out of business altogether. Coming to terms with the fact that change is inevitable and required to continue to grow and adapt is a fundamental starting point and getting used to the idea of change will make the planning easier, allowing you to adapt the strategy to each phase of the eCommerce life cycle.

Now back to the life cycle itself. At Eclipse we've done a bunch of research and distilled it down to three phases, which are an adaption and amalgamation of the lifecycle growth phases for all businesses and align to what we’ve seen for eCommerce companies, as they move along their journeys. These are:

 

Phase 1 – Launch to market & rapid growth

Phase 2 – Slowing growth

Phase 3 – Renewed growth

 

Each phase may take vastly different amounts of time and within each phase, you may have multiple versions of your strategies to align to outward forces such as the economy shifting and unprecedented situations like the Covid-19 pandemic we've all been facing. The goal is to understand where you are and what you need to do to achieve the next phase.

 

Phase 1. Launch to market & rapid growth

Almost all new eCommerce businesses will be subject to an early period of rapid and in some cases unanticipated growth. This is usually due to the popularity of the product being sold or market demand rather than the implementation of their eCommerce platforms.

Many businesses will choose a platform from a group of the most popular for start-ups such as BigCommerce, Shopify or Adobe Magento Commerce. It’s important that your business stays agile and responds quickly to change but also think a little to the future and builds in the ability to grow with the chosen platform and not create a handbrake for yourself.

The phase is filled with experimentation and making adjustments to stay afloat. If you're in this phase, your company is most likely a start-up or experiencing fast growth. However, you may be a long-established 'traditional' business, but that experience won't always equate to eCommerce success. This venture should be treated as a start-up and with that mindset, you'll be prepared for the fluctuating environment and need to adapt quickly.

Often times it's necessary to pivot, completely change your product offering or adopt a new customer experience methodology to stay on top of trends within eCommerce. Sometimes these changes are drastic and take time, but they must be made if you want success later on down the line.

You don’t want to get too deep into creating overly complex processes. You and your business could take advantage of this quick impact in this early phase, before you start to see your growth slow, being restricted by an unseen force. This sees you moving into the second phase of the eCommerce lifecycle, slowing growth.

 

Your Strategy in Phase 1.

When it comes to developing the strategy in this phase it is about building brand profile, experimenting with the way you sell your product, working toward building a unique customer experience, working to build trust with customers developing them into brand ambassadors.

This is the time for experimentation. Mistakes can be easily forgiven at this phase and you need to use them to learn as much as you can.

 

Phase 2. Slowing growth

Many businesses reaching this second phase of the eCommerce lifecycle head straight for panic and look for quick-fix solutions to perceived issues. It's important to understand that it’s natural for there to be a levelling off of growth after the early spike.

All growth has to slow down eventually. You need to figure out how you’re going to stop it from turning into decline and have a conversation with your customers about what you plan on doing next.

Your business will have made inroads in your market space, people are starting to recognise your brand and are hopefully sharing it with others. It’s time to reflect on your progress. Now it is time to go through an evaluate your earned data and gather insights so that you can start to implement well thought out and deliberate enhancements to your eCommerce store and your marketing efforts. This may be through user research, implementation of conversion rate optimisation programmes for your eCommerce store and looking to use the loyalty you have developed from your customers through referral programmes.

It’s important for you as a business owner to assign plentiful time and resources to research. None of this time will be wasted and it is the best way to figure out what is required to reach the next level and start growing again.

 

Your Strategy in Phase 2.

You'll want to maintain the work great work you've done with your original strategy's that have gotten you to this point and it is now time to 'grow up’ and mature the operation.

As we've mentioned above it is about analysis and making measured movements but staying true to what got you to where you are in the first place. It's moving beyond just going by your gut and backing it up with real-world data that can be the difference between luck and deliberate success.

 

Phase 3. Renewed growth

Business owners think that the solution to the issue of slowing growth is a quick fix or a huge swing and change of direction, which could be a new eCommerce platform, the recruitment of an in-house specialist or throwing a huge budget at risky and potentially untested advertising paths. This is not necessarily thinking strategically.

A shift of platform might indeed be the answer – perhaps to a more advanced or modern eCommerce platform, but you need to make a clear business case before deciding to migrate platforms. It is never as quick, easy or perhaps as cheap as you might think it is.

The challenge is how to kick start the renewed growth and come out fighting, which means creating an action plan beforehand and implementing this carefully – considering both product range and marketing strategies, along with customer service or financial decisions.

In this third phase of the eCommerce lifecycle, it is so important that any and all attempts to reinvigorate your company’s momentum and growth should always be strategic.

 

Your Strategy in Phase 3.

A solution to slowing growth will most likely require realigning your business goals with changing customer trends, keeping up to date with new technology and channel strategies. It will need you to double down on the initiatives first started in phase 2.

Research and analysis are required to optimise processes and improve the customer experience. This will steer your strategy. This means more user testing on the customer experience, further optimisation of your conversion mechanics to make sure that you're taking advantage of every visitor and continuing to spread the message of what makes you different and what customers should pick you.

Research may reveal issues and you could find you need to re-platform, but there needs to be comprehensive analysis behind decisions to implement technology and tools.

 

Putting it into action

Getting to know these phases of the eCommerce lifecycle is key for your strategic planning and will help you visualise your brand’s growth as a recurring process, identify critical questions to ask at each phase and understand why an agile approach to eCommerce strategy is so vital to lasting success. This eCommerce process deters you from attempting to solve issues with quick fixes and quick wins, instead focusing on regularly revisiting and refreshing your eCommerce strategy for long-term success.


Laptop in coders view

You're Not Thinking About Accessibility Enough

Broadly speaking, making a site accessible means accommodating the range of ways that users can interact with your product, regardless of experience, capability or disability. Often people think of accessibility in terms of extremes; how would a blind person interact with a site? 

While it makes sense to prioritise things that are going to take more effort to integrate and test, the truth is, your potential user base is almost infinite its combination of characteristics and capabilities, and a truly accessible site should be able to accommodate them all.

It can sound like an unachievable goal, and for product owners trying to apply accessibility standards to an already existing site, knowing where and how to start can be difficult. However, the key and most important things are to start. 

Legally required levels of accessibility are no longer things reserved for government organisations. Legal requirements mean predetermined standards and probably the most widely adopted standard are those laid out in WCAG. These are a set of standards created in cooperation with individuals and organisations around the world, to provide a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organisations, and governments internationally.

It’s all too easy to decide “this site will be AA accessible”, by which it meets the mid-range level of conformity, and work backwards and forward from there. Making a site accessible can simply become working through a checklist; do images have alt tags, are the contrast ratios high enough on the buttons? While this in itself can be a valuable process to go through, but it isn’t the whole story. At the end of the day, it’s crucial to remember the whole reason for undertaking accessibility improvements; your users. 

User experience is the ultimate test of success on your site. Better user experience often means a better conversion rate. Your user base can vary widely, and while you can follow best practices and accommodate the 95th percentile, at the end of the day, there’s no substitute for user testing. 

It can be achieved many different ways, at Eclipse we often use A/B tests to decide the best approach to design. However you do your testing, you can be sure of two things; one, that it will give you a better insight into how people interact with the site, and two, there will be results that you were not expecting.

In a recent example, we were looking at the design of a CTA button. By adhering to the brand’s guidelines, the button was bright orange and the label text in the button was white. 

Following AA standards, the contrast ratio wasn’t high enough to be considered accessible. On paper, the label text should be dark. But that’s not the whole story. A sample group of test users actually found the dark label less easy to read than the white version.

 

 

 

It’s not uncommon; there are numerous examples of similar tests producing the same result. The contrast ratio guide is supposed to ensure that the label is legible for people with visual impairments like colour blindness. But even when all the users questioned where colour blind, they favoured the white label over the “accessible” dark label. 

There could be numerous explanations for this, but it’s important to consider the human factor in everything we design. The way we see things is inherently imperfect and everything needs to be considered in context. 

In the case of the button label, the preference for the white label could be explained by the irradiation effect. In essence, when there is a border between something light and something dark, our retinas actually shift the divide towards the dark, so that the white seems to bleed over slightly.

In the case of the button label, the white text feels bigger or thicker to our eyes. Again, context is important; our eyes perceive colours differently depending on the colour around them. For this button, it was also being used on a light page. All the white space around the button increases the irradiation effect on the white button label.    

Obviously, standards and guidelines serve a purpose. Even in the button label tests, nearly 40% of the users favoured the recommended accessible colours. The fact of the matter is, users who struggle are often a minority.

 

 

Guidelines help factor the needs of a minority into our design choices. Design can be subjective and we need to agree on some ground rules. Particularly when it comes to factors or impairments that might not impact us directly. It’s almost impossible to preempt all your users' needs, but it’s important to try. 

However, it’s also important to know when to be flexible enough to break those rules, to accommodate your users. The only way to know that definitively is to be having regular interaction with your users. Guidelines help you start that conversation, but ultimately it’s user testing that will let you know if you got it right.