Design Is Boring

There is a right way to do things and a wrong way to do things.

 

I lied – the above statement is not at all true. Yes, there are certain things we know we shouldn’t do, or we should avoid when designing experiences but to say that there’s a golden bullet is completely wrong.

There are guiding principles and ‘best practice’ approaches that we’re led to believe is the correct thing to do, but does that mean we should treat these as rules?

Absolutely not. If that was the case, then how do we advance the industry? How would humanity move forward if this approach was always taken? In the well-weathered and referenced words of Henry Ford:

 

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”

 

So why would this be the case? It’s because the car didn’t exist at the time and no one else had the foresight or confidence to think beyond what they already knew.

This is also the danger with competitor research and analysis. I’ve lost count of the number of times I hear “I like what this business does so we want to do that”. This raises several questions; “Do you want to be your competitor? And if that’s the case, what differentiates you as a business? Why would anyone buy from you over your competitor?”.

In some instances, there’s a genuine answer to this based on price or faster delivery, but there’s a limit to how far this can go. It’s impossible to compete infinitely on price and certainly huge logistic challenges to promise things like next day delivery.

 

 Best Practice Should be your Foundation, not your Goal

This isn’t a post to completely disregard the proven approaches and methodologies. This is a post highlighting the fact this should be your starting point. The whole idea of starting these best practices is to create something that ‘works’.

But creating something that ‘works’ doesn’t provide a memorable experience. Just creating something that ‘works’ doesn’t build brand loyalty. Building something that just ‘works’ is emotionless and non-descript. In the words of Charlie Chaplin:

 

“To those who can hear me, I say, do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress.  Don't give yourselves to these unnatural men! Machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Let us use that power. Let us all unite!”

Please note that the above quote has been shortened for succinctness

 

 Where Process Makes Sense

There are instances much like the checkout process where having something that ‘just works’ is a good thing. Once the user has got to this level of their journey, it’s about a transaction.

In essence, it’s a process, so recognisable patterns and best practice makes it much easier to complete that process. In many instances you don’t even need a checkout anymore – you can simply use PayPal or mobile payments to complete that transaction without having to engage any further.

 

Where Process Doesn’t Work

On the flip side, the browsing of products is a much more emotive experience. If your shopping experience is the same as everyone else, how will they remember you? Why would they come back? The same rules apply in physical retail experiences and can be seen all over the place

 

 

Apple is a classic example of this. The grey storefront with towering glass panels and a giant Apple logo front and centre is a staple look of their stores.

 

 

And the inside the stores themselves are just as striking. The minimal look, drawing all attention and lack of checkouts is a staple to their physical retail spaces. Even the uniform alignment of the tables is carefully considered to create smooth flowing footfall around their stores.

The same can be said about Victoria’s Secret and their bold pink and black statement so they capture the attention of passing footfall. It’s recognition. The association of a statement look or mark with a brand.

 

What’s in a Colour?

The same risks of identity can also be applied to colour psychology. There’s a very particular reason that so many of the largest social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn use blue as a brand colour.

Blue is associated with trust and stability – something that all social media platforms can never be short of. The same can be applied to many other brands such as IBM, Intel, American Express, Salesforce and Visa. All these brands are dealing with sensitive or private information and need to do whatever they can to build trust and confidence in their users.

When you apply the same colour theory to other industries such as fashion, you have very similar issues. You could arguably say that the clothes and apparel should make the brands stand out, or the larger brands relying on reputation.

However, at a face-value brand level, so many high-end websites look the same. Standard patterns, excessive use of black to portray ‘luxury’, small typeface to draw attention to the clothes and away from the price. This is an example of brands following one of two approaches; we should do this because we aspire to be an elite label, or this is what we’ve always done.

Neither of these is a measure of success and unless brands begin accepting experimentation, it’s going to remain this way for a while. The issue with this is that this removes multiple levels of visual hierarchy making and all levels of identity. Suddenly, these brands are merely competing and relying on status, more than that of having their own identity.

 

 

The use of colour doesn’t only apply to the brand, but also the UI in which they sell their products as shown here:

 

 

All the images here are from each of these brands (that’s right, they’re not the same site), but they all start to look the same. All use black and white in excess and lack a visual hierarchy or identity. That could switch around the logos on any of these sites and you wouldn’t know the difference.

So now we’ve moved from a conversation of ‘best practice’ to a conversation of ‘commonality’ in UI, but both are interlinked.

 

Take a Piece of Advice from Apple and ‘Think Different’

So, let’s hope brands open themselves to more creative execution and innovation and avoiding getting sucked into a copy and paste future of faceless, legacy-reliant brands.

Brands, be proud of who you are and what you stand for. Be seen and be noticed. After all, a world without innovation and identity is a world that’s going nowhere.


The Power of User-Generated Content

It should come as little surprise to literally everyone that the pandemic and its continued persistence has significantly shifted the buying habits of all consumers. This has left many brands scratching their heads and scrambling to find ways to get these consumers attention, bring them to their websites and turn these visits from just a casual browse to that of buying stuff.

The big question here is have the effects of 2020, and even a big chunk of 2021, fundamentally shifted and permanently changed how people discover, shop, and engage with businesses?

 

New Research is Helping Provide an Answer

A new research report from the team at Stackla offers insight into this and reveals that not only is the increase in online shopping here to stay but also, that today’s consumers want brands to provide them with a more authentic, personalised shopping experience.

The report, Post-Pandemic Shifts in Consumer Shopping Habits: Authenticity, Personalization and the Power of UGC, surveyed more than 2,000 consumers across the US, UK and Australia. It found that consumers “increasingly seek out and value the social content that real customers are creating about brands. This means that visual social proof—like user-generated content (UGC)— is more important now than ever for brands to leverage as part of their online marketing strategy.”

We’re going to look at some key findings of the report, but we encourage you to head over and download a copy for yourself. It has a ton of great information that will help you develop solid strategies when thinking about how to deal with this huge consumer shift.

 

Creating the Authentic Experience Shoppers are looking for

In the report, Stackla found that 88% of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding which brands, they like and support (with 50% saying it’s very important) and that 83% of consumers believe retailers need to provide more authentic shopping experiences to customers like them.

That’s great we hear you say but how do we do that? Well, the report can help with that too. Let’s start by looking at content.

We know content is incredibly powerful when it comes to marketing and advertising with some of the most successful businesses spending 40% of their entire marketing budget on it but is it being spent on the right kind.

Stackla Report: Post-Pandemic Shifts in Consumer Shopping Habits: Authenticity, Personalization and the Power of UGC

A strong majority of businesses are either already spending large amounts of budget on influencer marketing strategies these days or are looking to include it in their marketing strategy. However, as you can see from the image above, only 10% of consumers say influencer content resonates as authentic with them, and a mere 19% say that brand-created content is the most authentic.

The real authenticity winner, with 59% of consumers, is content created by other consumers or in other words user-generated content (UGC). It is by far and away the most authentic type of content — meaning people are 3.1x more likely to say user-generated content is authentic compared to brand-created content and 5.9x more likely to say it's the most authentic compared to influencer content.

 

And it Does More than just Offer Authenticity

UGC is clearly ticking the box for the consumer, but it also has a big impact on their decision to make a purchase.

In the report, it was found that UGC is 8.7x more impactful in influencing purchasing decisions than influencer content. 79% of people say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions, while a very small 9% said influencer content impacts their purchases.

Stackla Report: Post-Pandemic Shifts in Consumer Shopping Habits: Authenticity, Personalization and the Power of UGC

And it doesn’t stop there, UGC just keeps on giving. 72% of consumers say real customer photos and videos are the content they most want to see on eCommerce sites when making purchasing decisions and 80% of consumers say they’d be more likely to purchase a product from an online store if its website had photos and videos from real customers.

It is hard to argue with those numbers. UGC is clearly an area that if you’re not currently thinking about you might want to start, and here is the reason why. 58% of consumers have left an eCommerce store without purchasing because the site didn’t have customer reviews or photos.

 

UGC is Easier than You Might Think

Consumers are happy to engage with brands that want to share their content and they’re eager for the content they create to be seen and used by their favourite brands.


Stackla Report: Post-Pandemic Shifts in Consumer Shopping Habits: Authenticity, Personalization and the Power of UGC

As you can see, consumers would grant a brand permission to use an image or video they posted of clothing or accessories (58%), a home goods product (58%), a beauty/health/wellness product (54%), a sporting goods product (53%) or a recent trip/excursion (52%) throughout their marketing.

And there are rewards for using this content outside of the ones we’ve already talked about.

43% of consumers — and 47% of Gen Z — say they would be more likely to continue engaging with and purchasing from a brand if it shared their photos or videos throughout its marketing.

 

The Full Report has so Much More

We’ve just scratched the surface of the insights in this report and again we’d encourage you to head over and download a copy for yourself. You’ll find a stack of insights on the importance of personalisation within the shopping experience and why it is so important as well as key insights at the industry level.

 

Putting it Into Action

Hopefully, you’ve seen the overwhelming benefits of including UGC into your strategy and now you’re thinking about how to make it a reality.

The Experience team at Eclipse is here to help. We can work with you to define the best way to include it in the user journey and make it part of the personalisation that your site offers. All you need to do is reach out to us and we can start talking options.


CX, UX and UI. What’s the difference?

If you’re in the world of digital commerce or to be honest delivering anything via the medium of digital, you’ve no doubt heard these 3 terms before. These are often used interchangeably and can mean different things to different people.

The news here is that they aren’t but when you look at things from the perspective of someone who doesn’t work with these things every day, it’s easy to see how people get confused with terminologies that have similar meanings yet are fundamentally different.

So, were here to clear up any confusion. We’ll explain these terms individually and show up how they are related.

 

CX or Customer Experience

We’ve talked about Customer experience before in some detail, but we’ll give a quick overview here for context.

Customer experience (CX) is closely linked to user experience (UX), but there is a difference. Unlike UX which focuses solely on a customer’s satisfaction with a product or service, CX is centred on the customer's entire experience. Think of it as a large circle that wraps itself around UX.

It is fundamental to user experiences in different places and at different times. A consumer can have a bunch of different experiences with the same brand. CX is a combination of all these, across all channels where you as a brand engage with your customers.

Because customer experience covers all these different user experiences, it doesn’t just concern your online channels, but in-store ones as well. Great brands often go the extra mile to establish a good CX, aligning different channels such as social media and customer service.

A thing to note here, as we mentioned in a previous blog, customer experience is not customer service. Customer service is a user experience that falls into the customer experience circle.

 

UX or User Experience

The term user experience has an interesting history.

It first appeared when Donald Norman, the acclaimed UX design expert wrote about it in his book, The Design of Everyday Things. It was first published in 1988 and marked a shift from the previous term “user-centred system design” where instead of focusing on the system itself and the aesthetics of the interface, Norman concentrated on the needs of the user.

It wasn’t until the early 90s when Norman joined Apple Computer first as a fellow, and then as a “user experience architect” that the term made its way into a job title.

According to Donald Norman “User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”

Looking at that definition it doesn’t make mention of tech or the internet. It’s not surprising really because the world wasn’t so digitised back when it was defined. While in the original sense of the definition UX could include any engagement of prospects and customers with a brand, its definition has become strictly digital. It is pretty clear to now see how the confusion between UX and CX can come about.

If we take it to the brass tacks, user experience (UX) at its core has the purpose of optimising a product or service to the total satisfaction of the customer. It achieves this goal by enhancing the usability, accessibility, and enjoyment of whatever is being offered.

UX should create a smooth journey for customers. This journey will encompass your customers visiting your website, browsing around, selecting a product, and navigating to the checkout. But it doesn’t end there. It also covers the confirmation of the order, delivery, and customer services. Again, when you look at this you can see how the confusion with CX can happen.

Fundamentally, UX is what helps users accomplish their goals and solve a particular problem they might have.

 

UI or User Interface but also User Interaction

We’re going to need you to stay with us a little here as we’re about to go down a bit of a rabbit hole.

When you look up UI, you may be faced with either user interface or user interaction as the answer. They are not the same thing, but they’re very very closely related. Essentially you can’t have one without the other, but you can alter one without having to touch the other.

User interface design focuses on the design of the visual interface, user interaction design focuses on the design of the global interaction behaviour of the system.

To add in a further complication some people have started to refer to user interaction as interaction design or IxD. Either way, we will explain what they both are and how they link right now, and we’ll attempt to simplify it as much as possible.

 

Let’s start with User Interaction

As the name suggests, it is concerned with how a user interacts with something. As an example, if you look at a website or an app the user interaction would be things like deciding if the user should swipe, tap, press, or maybe even hold to achieve an outcome.

Think Tinder with the interaction of swiping left, right or up. The user interaction or interaction design here was about being able to achieve a result, quickly and easily without the need to find the button on the screen. At this point, it is not about what it looks like but how the person is going to do what needs to be done to achieve a goal.

 

Now Let’s talk User Interface

This is where the visual aspect comes into play. You may have designed a great interaction but if the design of information on screen does not lend itself to the interaction that has been designed, you’re going to be delivering a poor user experience.

The UI should be putting the relevant information in a place that makes sense and is easy to read and understand. It should be making sure it is accessible and that colours and fonts are not creating issues for users making it unusable.

It’s about layout, imagery and animations coming together in a coherent design formula that when supported with intuitive user interaction make for an exceptional user experience.

If we go back to Tinder as the example, the user interface of having the large image front and centre with the information you need to make a quick decision on the front page make the interaction of swiping left, right or up easy.

The addition of tab indicators across the top of the picture let people know there are more pictures to see and that tapping on the left or right of the image moves the user onto the next.

Without that piece of user interface design, the interaction is dead. There would be nothing to tell a user that the tap is the key to more information. And at the same time, they have added a small icon to indicated that there is other information hidden within the profile.

Giving it a tap opens it up but if the icon was not there and you were a first-time user, you may completely miss that interaction or possibly stumble upon it by accident.

 

Bringing it all together

Hopefully, we’ve managed to offer a clear explanation of each of the elements and how they link together. It is easy to see how they can be confused but when you understand that they all need to coexist in harmony and that they all hold an equal weight of importance you’re able to harness them and create truly special things for your customers.

Just remember that UI is a part of UX, which is a part of CX. All of these are dependent on one another, and you can create an engaging experience when they’re in sync.

Exceptional customer experience needs exceptional user experiences, which requires an exceptional user interface and interactions.

And at Eclipse, this is exactly what we do. We make good things happen by putting data and your customers at the heart of every strategy, design, and experience decision to create more personalised experiences that make a genuine difference.

If you need a hand with any of these elements, we’re here to help. Just reach out to our Experience team and we can get to creating exceptional experiences together.


Tactics to Consider as you Prepare for Christmas 2021

You may be asking why we’re talking about Christmas in September but for a lot of businesses this may be a make or break moment for them and so far, the news has been packed with potential supply issues and price increases as a result.

What we’ve got for you in this post are some things you can do to get customers coming to the site, keep them there and make it as easy as possible for them to find the perfect gift, drop it in their cart and checkout without any worries.

 

Convenience is King

We’ve talked about this a lot, but it is super important. Customers are putting this so high on their list of reasons why they choose to shop with the stores they do, you can’t ignore it.

And when you think about Christmas it is even more important. People have several gifts that they need to buy and if the process is made too difficult for them, they go and look for an easier way somewhere else.

Some of the things we’ll talk about below will have long term benefits that will continue to pay back well after the Holiday period is over.

 

Offer Inspiration

We all know that one person who has everything and when it comes to finding them a gift, we’re left with no place to start.

Helping those customers is easy. Take the time to create curated lists of gifts that filter into different categories. It’s super easy to do and removes a step that the customer must take when looking around what you have to offer.

Think prices. Having options to see gifts under different pricing takes people right to a selection that meets budget restrictions. Create an option for Him and for Her. You could even break it down by activity. Gifts for those who love to cook or love to garden. The options are endless and will differ depending on what it is you sell but customers love it.

By creating these filter options you’re taking people straight to the stuff they’re looking for, removing things that aren’t relevant and offering a level of personalization. It removes frustration and reduces the chances of people bouncing off the website from a perception that you just don’t have what they’re looking for.

I can tell you I am one of these shoppers. There are websites that I will always go back to specifically because they have gift finders. If I don’t know where to start, they become the start. And I do this year-round, not just at Christmas. Birthdays, Easter, you name it. If I must buy a gift and I need a little help, these sites will get a visit and almost always a purchase from me.

 

Create Bundles and Make Related Buys Super Relevant

As a retailer, we’re always looking for ways to increase the average order value. Creating gifting bundles is a great way to do this.

Fashion retailers do some of this by highlighting ‘complete the look’ on a single product where the model is wearing other items. If you can do the same for your product range, do it. Make it easier by giving them the option to click a single button and add it all to the cart without the need for going to multiple pages.

This also works well with gift foods or interior décor. If you’ve gone through the hassle of creating beautiful images that create a lifestyle for people, make it easy to get everything they see in the picture.

And when it comes to related products as add-ons things like batteries, cables, and things that make the first product work are a must. Everybody hates buying something and then not being able to use it because they need to buy something else for that to happen.

Make it clear that they will need this extra item for it to function. However, be smart about this. Make sure that the original item does not have it included.

I was subject to this just after buying my new house. I had to do some renovation work in the cloakroom that required a toilet and taps. When I picked what I wanted I was given a ‘you’ll need this’ list, so I clicked them all and added them to the basket, but something got me to pause, and I went back and looked at the individual items like the taps and the basin.

I had been told you needed to buy the flex pipes for the tap and the waste for the basin, I assume because 99% of them don’t come with these extras, but the ones I had picked did include them so I would have ended up with two of everything if I had just gone with it and then I would have been left with the need to return things and a feeling of having been cheated.

You can’t always shortcut these things with a one size fits all in the back of your website. Triple check and make sure that what you’re telling people they need, they actually need.

 

Remove Doubt as Early as Possible

One of the biggest barriers to a person buying, especially over Christmas, is uncertainty around delivery and returns.

Customers want to make sure that what they’re buying is going to arrive on time and should there be an issue it can be returned or exchanged easily.

By putting this information front and centre on the website, so that it can be found easily, you’re removing this doubt. And if you keep the delivery information updated so that they are aware of the last time that they can order to guarantee delivery before a particular date, you will pick up last-minute shoppers and get those who might be on the fence to a decision point faster.

Put the messages in multiple places and if there are products that have special delivery restrictions or returns guidelines, put that info on the product pages. This kind of information can’t be over-communicated.

And if you’re offering extended return times, tell people. It might just get them to buy from you rather than another retailer.

Another thing that is important here is information about delays, should they arise. Being totally transparent about these kinds of things builds trust and should reduce the amount of inbound contact about these issues.

 

Make it Easy for People to Checkout

This is another frustration for people that are shopping across different sites whilst Christmas shopping. Having to go through a 400 step sign up process sends people in the other direction.

Having a guest checkout with the ability to turn it into an account after the purchase is a much easier way to get people through. The hook to create the account is to keep up to date with the delivery of the items but having to create an account before you can do things like see delivery costs will kill a sale.

As important as the guest checkout is the payment options you offer. Offering options such as Apple or Google Pay and PayPal Express essentially gives people a ‘one click’ checkout. It pulls all the information around delivery and billing details and sticks them right into the checkout.

I use this all the time. I never have to find my wallet to triple check numbers on cards and during the hunt for the wallet rethink my purchase.

If you don’t offer these yet, think about getting them on before Christmas shopping really kicks off. Those who shop via mobile will love you for it.

 

Create a Gifting Experience

If people are buying gifts and sending them directly to the people getting them, having the option to have something gift wrapped is brilliant. Also including the option to include a gift receipt and keep invoices out of the delivery is great too.

Gift wrapping creates a great impression not only for you as the retailer but for the person getting the parcel and for the person that bought it.

A few years back when I was still in New Zealand, I bought some gifts from Harvey Nichols and had them gifted wrapped and sent as Christmas gifts to my sisters. I was blown away by how easy it was and when I got a chance to see what had been delivered, I was amazed. My sisters loved it and whenever I need to send a gift to someone and want them to have an incredible opening experience, they’re my go-to.

Having this as an option can help you stand out in the crowd, and it is also a great upsell opportunity.

 

Together they Create an Exceptional Experience

Having all or some of these will help give your customers a great shopping experience. The easier it is for them to do what it is they want, the more likely they are to do it.

And if you’re not sure where to start with these things, reach out to us. We’re here to help and our Experience team have a bag full of tricks to give you the edge.


Is Your Brand Using Short Videos? It Should Be

You’ve all engaged with it, even without realising that you have, and all things considered, the world loves it.

Short-form videos are those that are 60 seconds or less and they’re fundamentally changing the way the world works, communicates and learns.

Vine started it and platforms like Tik Tok picked it up and drove a shift that other platforms have followed. Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook have all made video key to growth and user retention.

 

Why Video?

The reason they’re doing this. It is how people wanted to be communicated to.

60% of internet traffic revolves around video, 72% of people prefer video vs text to learn about a product or service, 68% of people will happily watch a business video if it’s under a minute and 54% of people want to see brands create videos vs any other type of content.

Those numbers speak for themselves but if you needed more, we’ve got them.

93% of marketers have landed a customer via social media video, video content on Instagram receives 49% higher engagement and it also gets 48% more views on social media when compared to other content.

 

The Experts’ Case for Short Video

We’ve found a great Ted Talk by Digital strategist Qiuqing Tai where she explores the explosive rise of bite-sized content and forecasts its promise as an economic and social force.

It really is a must-see and has some incredible examples of how short video has driven real change and offers ways you could do the same.

So, there we have it. Short video could just be the next step in your brand and marketing strategy to support your eCommerce business growth. Now you’ve just got the pick the platform your existing or future customers are using and produce some great content for them to engage with.

 

Need a Little Help with it?

At Eclipse we’ve got digital experts that understand what makes an exceptional customer experience and they can work with you to create and implement a strategy so that you can deliver just that, making short video a lever in the strategy that you can pull on when needed. All you need to do is just reach out.


What is Aspire? (and why you need it)

Making the best-uary, of your estuary

“I have a dream…and that dream evolves based on new data and learnings”

Just to clarify in case my attempt at creating a clever headline has confused anyone. Much like rivers flowing into a single point, I’m referring to aligning multiple workstreams and projects into a single vision.

As businesses increasingly compete and challenge each other to reach the top of their respective markets, one of the challenges faced is throwing things at the fan and seeing what sticks. This type of action can have great results but ultimately results in a completely disjointed experience on their website.

These are some of the reasons why, at Eclipse, we offer a programme we call Aspire.

 

What is Aspire?

We all love to dream. We all have our own interpretations of what ‘great’ or ‘next-level’ looks like. This ultimately creates extensive discussions and debates on who is right and who is wrong (hint: neither answer is correct until proven).

The cause of debate is generally around where time, effort and budget should be spent. But let’s wait a moment…let’s take a step back – what is the objective? Is this aimed at a short-term gain or long-term sustainability of the business? Whatever the answer may be, projects often head off in different directions and create a disjointed experience.

Think about it. I’m sure you can remember multiple times when you’ve been on a website and one part of the site feels significantly better/different than the other. “Meh” you may be thinking…as long as it works. This view, I can absolutely tell you, is short-term thinking and can seriously damage your long-term objectives.

This can lead to a stage when you feel you really need to invest heavily in an unplanned redesign of the whole website, or you turn users away as the journey no longer makes sense. You may not even realise it till late on as visitor numbers have gradually (or sharply) declined and you’re not sure why.

Our Aspire programme is about going beyond the short-term. Aspire is about removing all the barriers of today, be that technology, process, budget or limitations to create the best experience you can envisage for your customers.

Aspire is about making you stand out in the market as being the “best of the best”…the “Top Gun!” (apologies Tony Scott). Most importantly, Aspire is about aligning all experiments, changes or parallel workstreams within teams or organisations to ensure everything and everyone is driving towards achieving the same vision.

Whether you’re a single team running multiple channels of experimentation, or multiple teams operating individually, Aspire is here to help you align your workstreams to create consistency from both a UX (User Experience), UI (User Interface) and CX (Customer Experience) perspective.

 

How often should you run Aspire programme?

This is a really important question to ask. Aspire creates this long-term vision, but this is a constantly evolving thing.

As you learn more about how your customers are interacting with your website, and you as a business, this vision will evolve. This can be due to new technology hitting the market, change of circumstance or even changes in the political and public landscape (particularly relevant over the last year).

We monitor this through behavioural analysis using data and predictive patterns. “X has just been announced – how can we mitigate the impact now, so it doesn’t affect us going forward” is just one example of how that may emerge.

 

Cheesy analogy time…

A post like this wouldn’t be the same without a cheesy analogy, so here we go. Think carefully about how you align business objectives. I’ll compare Aspire to rockets and fireworks.

The short-term way of thinking can be seen as a firework. All these channels shooting off in all directions. All are exciting, all are great and can end up providing a beautiful array of colour and success, however, ultimately fade away and come floating down to earth as ash.

Aspire on the other hand is comparable to a rocket. Aspire is your launchpad, that looks beyond the initial excitement of colour and wonderment, to a longer-term future that shoots you into orbit and allows you to stay there.

The Aspire approach can be run as an individual programme, but we aim to use this thinking in everything we do. We consider the pros and cons based on your individual business objectives and goals.

So, if you’d like to have a chat about how this can work for you, give us a call and we’d be more than happy to see how we can help.


Lessons on Customer Experience from Giant Brands

We talk about customer experience a bunch at Eclipse and it is with good reason. It is the thing that makes you stand out from your competitors, and it is the thing that makes the biggest difference to consumers.

To be clear, we’re not talking about customer service. That is a different thing that plays into the customer experience. We talked about this more in a previous blog 'Are you confusing Customer Experience with Customer Service?'. What we’re talking about is the end-to-end customer journey and all the things that you and your brand do that make you stand out, build loyalty, and make people come back time and time again.

 

Learning from Others

We’ve covered customer experience from the angle of what the customer wants but today we’re taking a slightly different angle. One of the best ways to get better at what you do is to look at what others are doing for inspiration.

So, we’ve looked at some of the giant brands out there that people praise for their customer experience and brought you the best of what they’re doing to help inspire you when it comes to creating your customer experience strategy.

 

Tesla

These guys have built a customer base of fans and they have an incredible reputation. Their NPS is 96 and if you’ve ever talked to anyone who owns one, they have very probably tried to convince you to buy one yourself.

So, what have they done that we can learn from? The very first thing they did was start a movement for their brand. It was something that people could believe in and as I have often quoted in the past ‘People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe’

They set their mission to ‘accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.’ It underpins what they do and how they talk about themselves and if you share that as a value, you’re drawn to get involved.

You might be thinking that this isn’t an ‘experience’ but the reason it is important is that it talks to the brand. Brand and customer experience are intrinsically linked. Most often the first time someone engages with you is through brand discovery, which is the very start of the customer journey. And as we mentioned before, customer experience is about the entire journey end-to-end.

This was a big move that drew in a lot of love from people but the biggest impact they’ve had on customer experience is around how they’re selling the cars to start with. They totally removed friction and turned the way that cars are sold on its head.

Had you told someone 15 years ago that you’d be buying your car online without having to go anywhere near a dealership you’d have been told you’re dreaming but guess what, that is exactly what Tesla did.

The “traditional” sales experience is one of the biggest frictions or annoyances in the car buying journey for customers, so they removed it. You can apply the same lesson to almost any other industry– if you want to differentiate your offering, look for the typical frictions that customers face in your industry and find a way to solve them.

 

Ralph Lauren

If you’ve ever had any exposure to their brand, you know that it creates a lifestyle for their customer base and much like Tesla, their customers are strong advocates for them.

The lessons we can learn here is around what they’ve done to shift and create a digital evolution of their customer experience. Much like everyone else in the fashion industry, the pandemic changed what they did and forced them to have to step up and step up they did.

They have done such a great job with this that Gartner Digital IQ Index recently recognised Ralph Lauren as the No. 5 luxury brand in digital, citing its robust mobile features and connected retail programs.

One of the driving principles of their reinvention was the willingness to learn and evolve. For anyone who wants to step up their customer experience game and genuinely build something that people are going to gravitate to, they need to be open to doing the same.

Ralph Lauren evaluated the brand’s digital presence to identify potential friction points in the customer journey and to find new ways to improve the experience.

Those insights inspired several performance-boosting user experience (UX) enhancements. They included more detailed category filters, a simplified checkout flow and important app updates, including improved navigation and clearer presentation of product details. These changes, which put more focus on product discovery, helped the company grow mobile orders by 34%.

It might sound obvious but if you really want to build that customer experience that customers are going to love, you should probably ask them what they want.

Another thing we can take from them is how they’ve adapted the way they tell their story.

For a brand that has prioritised cinematic lifestyle storytelling across every aspect of commerce and marketing, beginning with in-store experiences and print advertising, they have been faced with the challenge of how can you do the same thing in a way that the new consumer cares about?

In the age of digital, they quickly adapted and expanded this vision to its online experiences. This approach guided Ralph Lauren to build an elevated mobile storefront that mirrors how the company tells its story on other channels.

Because the customer experience covers the buyers’ journey, beginning to end, you must make sure you’re covering all the bases. You need to be where the customers are, offering that seamless experience, to the same level, whatever the delivery method.

 

Amazon

Surely, it’s no surprise that Amazon is being talked about when it comes to customer experience. The shopping experience they offer is pretty much unrivalled and is central to their enormous success.

One of the biggest customer experience levers they’ve firmly got in their grasp is convenience but that isn’t what we’re going to be talking about here.

The lesson we’re taking from them is a surprisingly simple one: Amazon excels at making it crystal clear what will happen when you click that button.

One of the biggest inhibitors to driving conversion is leaving customers with doubts or questions. Any chance to stop and think or creation of the need to go on the hunt for information is the opportunity for a change of mind or a quick duck out of the process.

As a result, you can go about cutting down friction in a consumer’s decision-making process by giving them all the information they need, at a glance, easing them towards conversion.

When you fail to explain things like delivery times, cost of shipping, how to track orders and what to do if you need to return something, you are putting blockers in the way of conversion.

 

The Lessons Learnt

So, to summarise the key learnings from those giant brands:

  • Create something that people can believe in and want to be a part of
  • Look for friction in the ‘normal’ way of doing things and remove it
  • Open yourself up and be willing to learn and evolve
  • Adapt the way you tell your story for a new audience
  • Give consumers the information they need and want in the easiest way possible
  • Remove doubt and make the customer experience seamless

 

Putting these Lessons into Action

Now that you’ve got some inspiration, you’ve got to decide how important these things are to you and how you can work them into your strategy.

That is where we come in. At Eclipse we’ve got an incredibly talented, multi-award-winning bunch of people ready to help you and your business. Our Experience team are experts at this stuff and can guide you or offer advice and answer questions that you might have. All you need to do is reach out and talk to us.

There’s not much that can’t be solved with a few cups of tea, some bright people and a (currently virtual) whiteboard.


6 Ways to Find Out What Your Customers Think About You

We all want to know what our customers are really thinking about us but sometimes it can feel like an impossible task. To help with this we’ve got a few ways that you can put into action that’ll get you the information you need to make sure they’re having a great time and that you’re delivering on your brand promise to them.

You can absolutely use these one at a time or pick and choose the one that appeals to you most, but the real power comes when you combine them. The real power and insights exist in data and the more of it you have, the better equipped you’ll be.

 

Wait, What Do You Mean by Brand Promise?

Good question. Before we move into the ways you collect the insights let’s talk about why they’re important. Customer Experience!

Ultimately everything we’re doing is to ensure that we offer the best possible customer experience to our customers. In a previous blog, we talked about the difference between customer experience and customer service but here we’re going to touch on the difference between brand and customer experience and how they feed each other.

The first thing to note is that you own the management of the brand and the customer experience, but every customer owns the perception of those things. One of the reasons you want the customer insight is to understand if what you think the brand and customer experience should be, is.

The way to look at these two things are:

Brand – This is the promise you’re making to the world. It is the pillars by which your business operates. It is the things you stand for, the values you bring to the market, the way you talk about and visualise yourself. It is how you’re known.

Customer Experience – This is the delivery of the brand. When you’re putting the brand out into the world, you’re making several promises that people are buying into. Customer Experience is where the rubber hits the road, and the promise is delivered.

As Simon Sinek puts it, ‘People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.’

Your task is to make sure that customer experience is supporting what the brand is saying and the way to do it is by asking the people who own the perception.

 

Getting the Insights, You Need to Make a Change

There are a bunch of ways of doing this and the key is that not all research is equal. You must decide what it is you need to know and pick the best medium to achieve that.

Some of this should be what we call ‘always on’ and others can be more ad-hoc and used when you’re looking for specific information.

Here’s the list, in no real order, for you to consider.

Surveys

If done right, these just work. The real trick to getting them right is to keep them short and make them easy to complete.

Nobody wants to be spending an hour filling in a survey, but they might give you 5 or 10 minutes, 3 or 4 times over an extended period.

NPS or Net Promoter Score is a great survey that can go out every 6 months or so and asks essentially two questions. The first is what is the likelihood that someone is happy to recommend your business or product (on a scale of 1-10) and the second question is why is that your answer.

When done over time, it works as a temperature check to prove that what you’re doing is being well received and is driving sentiment up. We’ll come back to sentiment but just know that the higher it is, the more people care about your brand or products.

Another survey that works well is a post-project / post-purchase / post-delivery survey. It is a way to check that what was promised at the beginning became a reality for the customer. Again, keep them short and easy to complete. Tools like Typeform are easy to use and create great-looking surveys that can be completed on multiple device formats. Getting the results out the other side is easy too.

For the most part, surveys can be used for gathering just about any kind of information you want but keep them specific to an outcome you’re looking for. If they’re too vague you’ll not get the kinds of information out of them, you need.

 

Pro Tip:

Look closer at the text entry fields in the survey. The language people use and the way they write has a lot to say. Are they using CAPITALS in certain places or are they throwing around exclamation marks! These things in some cases are just as important as what it is they’re saying.

 

 

Customer Interviews / Market Research Panels

For all intents and purposes, this is a much more detailed in person or via webcam survey.

People are far more likely to give more detailed answers and it gives you the ability to apply clarification to answers, in the moment. They require more effort on your part and should ideally not be done regularly with the same people. But if you’re really needing to get to the bottom of something, this is a great way to do it.

Where the research panels help too is that generally once someone opens up about something, others will feel more open to sharing. People by their very nature will keep some things to themselves but when in the company of others that are happy to tell it like it is, they’re more likely to come to the party.

 

Pro Tip:

Some companies specialise in this type of research and if it is the first time, you’re doing it or you don’t have the time to dedicate to getting it done well, source it out. Just like any other customer experience, you want these to feel seamless and well done and asking for help is not a bad thing to do. If you need help with this, come talk to us and we can point you in the right direction.

 

 

Social Listening

This option, for whatever reason, still seems to be one that a lot of businesses are not using.

Essentially it is the act of keeping an ear to the ground when it comes to what people are saying about you all over the internet but more specifically on social media.

We mentioned sentiment before, and this is really where it comes into play. By measuring sentiment, you’re keeping track of how people feel about you, your brand, customer experience and products. Your customers are likely to share how they’re feeling on social platforms with their friends and family – be that good or bad - and social listening allows you to keep up to date with what they’re saying and act accordingly.

It is near on impossible to do this well without the use of a tool but if you get a good one it takes the hard work out of it for you and drops the insights into your lap.

The team at Social Baker have a great social listening tool that will listen to your audience across the entire customer journey and allow you to use the data instantly from every touchpoint. And when you link it up with the rest of the platform, you’re empowered to make truly insight-driven decisions that will shift sentiment towards being positive.

 

Pro Tip:

Even if you’re not using social listening but you’re active on social media, you need to respond to people that are talking about you or are asking for help. Don’t just use it as a channel to blast people with your message. The clue is in the name. Be social and interact with your audience. Be it good, bad or indifferent, you need to thank them or solve their problems. It’s an unwritten agreement between brands and customers who use social media, and you want to hold up your end of the deal.

 

 

User Testing

We’ve written an entire blog on this subject but wanted to bring it up again here.

What we’re talking about for the most part is digital user testing. Be that a website or a sass platform, you’re gathering insight from the users and the way they interact with your site or product.

This is incredibly useful as you’re getting feedback that relates directly to an interaction that is taking place.

You can do it with physical products too but for it to really work well, it needs to be done in person.

The data that you can gather from doing this is highly valuable and can really drive the changes around design, form, function and in some cases the entire way that you’re presenting yourself to the world.

Head over and read the complete blog to find out a little more but just know it is a great way to gather real insights from real users in real-time.

 

Pro Tip:

Much like with market research, you want to do this right the first time and getting the professionals in to take care of it for you is where the smart return on the investment is. At Eclipse we’ve got years of experience doing this with some of the biggest brands in the UK. Come talk to us and we can get you set up with user testing sessions in no time.

 

 

Analytics

You should already have these running in the background across your website and any other tools that you’ve got running that your customers are interacting with.

They are packed with incredibly valuable information. They are telling you what people are interacting with most, how they got there and on the other side of the spectrum, what is sending them running away from you.

Use this information to realign the customer journey, create more of the content people want to see and take the highest performing content and promote it to the world.

It seems like an obvious thing to do but you’ll be surprised how many people forget to consider it when they’re trying to figure out what their customers really think. Don’t let it be one of those things that sit collecting data, for it never to see the light of day.

 

Pro Tip:

If you’re using google analytics but have no idea where to start, go and look at Google Academy. They have helpful information on all aspects of analytics, and it’ll point you in the right direction, answer some of your questions and get you gathering awesome insights in virtually no time at all.

 

 

Front Line Staff

This again seems like an obvious thing to do but it is almost always the most obvious that gets forgotten about.

By talking to the people that talk to your customers the most, you’ll be getting information that you can link back to purchase or interaction and use it to understand how it went.

The people at the coal face will be able to tell you about trends they’re seeing and highlight things that people are asking for without having to trawl through hundreds of surveys or data files.

 

Pro Tip:

If you’ve got a CRM that links customer purchases both in-store and online and through customer service support, you able to make this process even slicker. The more you can keep together the more insight you’ll have but it’ll also turbocharge your ability to offer personalisation to your customers.

 

The ultimate takeaway here is that gathering this information is super important not only for your business but your customers too. It gives you what you need to ensure that the customer experience is always delivering on your brand promise. And remember, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.