Today’s customers have a choice. Many choices. Everywhere. All the time.
And they know it.
In the new era of ecommerce, customers can choose where they shop, how they pay, when they receive their purchases, how they receive their purchases, etc. So in a world of never-ending options, shoppers pointedly look at merchants and ask, “Why should I buy from you?”
At Signifyd’s FLOW Summit 2022 in New York, nearly 300 ecommerce leaders gathered to address that very question. The consensus? It all comes down to customer experience.
Digital sameness is pervasive
Brendan Witcher, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, has seen it all when it comes to customer experience — the good and the not-so-good.
During his keynote lecture “Conditional Love: What it Takes to Keep Customers Faithful”, Witcher laid out impactful insights that burst like PopRocks upon delivery and sizzled as thoughts throughout the event.
One of Witcher’s PopRocks was the hard reality that digital sameness is pervasive. In a 2021 Forrester study where consumers ranked customer experience among a sampling of U.S. merchants, 68% said the customer experience was “OK” — 0% said the customer experience was “excellent.” It was here that Witcher posed the question: In a world where merchants are looking to provide a unique and impactful customer experience, why isn’t anyone doing it? Why isn’t an “exceptional” customer experience translating over to the very shoppers it was built for?
To see Forrester Vice President, Principal Analyst Brendan Witcher’s presentation full of PopRocks and sizzling thoughts, check out the on-demand video recording of his presentation on customer experience at Signifyd’s FLOW Summit 2022.
Witcher then unleashed another insight for attendees to savor: “Good is the enemy of great,” a quote attributed to Jim Collin’s book “Good to Great.” Witcher went on to say, “Our propensity as a business is to say, “When we do things well we need to move onto something else we don’t do well.’”
“Good” or “good enough” can be one of the most crippling mindsets for merchants today, especially given a time when stakes are at an all-time high; innovation in ecommerce technology is booming, the space is more crowded than ever before and customer expectations are fluid and ever-changing making them hard to pin down.
Winning customers segment by segment
So merchants are faced with yet another hard reality: If customers can purchase anything they want anywhere and the experience they are receiving isn’t unique or exceptional then why are they buying from us?
Witcher points out that customers are willing to tell merchants exactly why — merchants just need to listen. Though Witcher warns that miscommunication can occur if all parties are not speaking the same language.
Because customer experience is personal, it is key for merchants to understand what their customers are motivated by on a market-segment-by-market-segment basis; do they love discounts? Read reviews? Look at feature comparisons? “There is no silver bullet to win them all,” Witcher says. “To win markets, you must solve pain points per segment,” and identifying what drives purchasing decisions is the first step to getting on the same page.
Creating moments of personalization
This sentiment was echoed throughout the sessions at FLOW Summit, as ecommerce leaders from all verticals shared their real-world tales of winning customers over one pain point at a time.
UrbanStems’ Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer Vivek Kumar unlocked several new operational and product offerings that ultimately made customer experience a differentiator for the gifting innovator.
After speaking with customers, Kumar and team realized there was a desire for self-expression and creativity during the order process. By changing operations to work directly with farms and bringing delivery in-house instead of relying on outside vendors, UrbanStems regained control of their inventory and fulfillment. This allowed UrbanStems to create moments of personalization for their customers during all stages of the purchase journey, from time of order to delivery to post-sale. These ever-present thoughtful touches not only directly addressed one of their market segment’s desires, but resulted in increased customer retention for the brand.
To hear Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer Vivek Kumar’s presentation on how UrbanStems turned to customers to help shape an exquisite customer experience, check out the on-demand video recording of Kumar’s FLOW Summit 2020 discussion of weaving the customer experience throughout the buying journey.
Achieving personalization through individualization
When it comes to customer experience, Witcher calls out an important distinction: personalization is subjective and entirely up to the customer to define — similar to how what determines a “satisfactory” customer experience will vary from person to person or segment to segment.
Segmentation will help merchants get a better understanding of their customers and pain points to reach what personalization may mean to them, but it is not the ultimate way to engage a customer. This newer, elevated approach is individualization.
Merchants who master individualization engage with segments one at a time in real time by listening, capturing, measuring, assessing and addressing intent across all touchpoints. It takes data, and the good news is merchants already have enough of it. The difference now is — to implement individualization — that data needs to be used in a way to provide value back to the very people who provided it; to provide that ultimate personalized experience.
To do this, merchants can readily leverage the processes and operations they already have in place. Omnichannel and personalization through individualization are two parts of the same strategy, Witcher points out. As merchants create cross-channel experiences, individualization ensures those experiences provide relevant value to shoppers as data is constantly collected, interpreted and made actionable. And when done right, customers can experience that lightbulb moment of, “This merchant really gets me.”
Today’s customers are more complex than ever before and they are motivated by everything, everywhere. But by looking at what customers are expecting on a segmented basis and fixing readily identifiable pain points, merchants can go beyond the plane of “good enough” and develop deep, meaningful interactions that exceed that of “excellence.”
Photos by Amy Lane Albro for Signifyd
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