Technology has impacted today’s digital lives. In addition to the current COVID-19 pandemic the whole world is facing today, retailers need more than just a good deal to keep loyal customers coming back. Having an innovative approach, superior strategy, and efficient operations might just be key factors to help secure a winning position in this competitive environment.
Similar to a brick-and-mortar setting, how can we catch the attention of customers and further engage and onboard them with our products and services online?
First impression counts
With the wealth of information at hand, distraction easily seeps in, which creates a poverty of attention. Hence, an impactful and positive first impression is an opportunity for us to attract and build a meaningful relationship with our customers.
For a brick-and-mortar retail outlet, giving people a positive impression is not only for those who enter the shop as customers, but also for passersby and those who do window shopping, too. For instance, the visual appearance in the store exterior or store display. Just like the Apple store, their boxy, glass-paneled design, and airy, minimalistic look and feel, combined with modern-looking furniture, presents their customers a concept and vibe of an “Experience of the Future”. Furthermore, a brick-and-mortar store has the advantage of having constant customer communication and interaction such as warm greetings at the door and even the availability of a salesperson to answer all the questions posted by customers. All these factors will imprint an impression on customers that will have them come back for more.
The same should apply to onboarding customers online but without face-to-face customer interaction, unique window displays, or even free product trials. How can we paint a good first impression online on a small 4.7- to 6.5-inch smartphone screen or a larger 14- to 16-inch laptop screen? Some questions we can ask ourselves would be whether or not it is eye-catching or appealing? Is it easy to navigate? Would customers linger a little longer to see what’s in store for them?
From the colour scheme to the size and placement of each button, the elements will determine what sort of impression, message, or feel we would like to give our customers. Impressed or disappointed customers will leave positive or negative reviews that will be accessed by millions of potential customers in multiple target markets. Hence, noting the minute details of the customer onboarding platform is crucial.
This is where the user interface (UI) design comes into play. It is the basic building block of how the website is set up and how it functions when visited by the target audience. Some elements include the input controls, navigational components, informational components, and containers. Buttons, lists, toggles, icons, breadcrumbs, tags, and more also play a huge role. The whole structure, user manipulation, and communication that is designed from the back-end needs to be on point so that customers can have a seamless and enjoyable front-end experience.
Optimise each customer touchpoint
Remember that good impression are not just visuals – interaction is important too. The overall customer experience plays a major role. Finding and pinpointing those precise business moments where we are in direct contact with our customers, can be the very key to unlock a whole new experiential customer journey for them. However, it can only be created when we truly understand our customers’ current situation, needs, and wants.
Being intentional in mapping out the customer’s end-to-end experience might help build strong, long-lasting relationships between the brand and our customers. We do not want to lose our customers as quickly as seven seconds into the interaction, because seven seconds might be all it takes to drive them towards loyalty or defection. This means that it is vital that the right steps are taken to ensure the right kinds of customer touchpoints are in place to best serve customers. Present in both brick-and-mortar and online platforms, customers touchpoints could include phone conversations, online chats, face-to-face communications, and even interactions carried out via innovative technology solutions such as chatbots and augmented reality!
Unlike a brick-and-mortar setting, where customers are able to touch, feel, and bond with the items before they buy them, the online platform should have touchpoints with tools that will ease and elevate the entire customer journey.
For anything that an online platform lacks, it has to work around to create a more wholesome experience for customers.
Let’s say for customer service, imagine having a customer engagement specialist responding to customers 24/7! Having a subject-matter-expert chatbot will definitely spice up the customer’s journey, increasing customer engagement and customer retention. According to a Gartner report published on 25 July, 2019 titled “Hype Cycle for Artificial Intelligence, 2019,” chatbots are the number one use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the enterprise especially in the Southeast Asian region. Gartner also estimates that there are over 1,000 vendors delivering offerings in the chatbot market.
Onboarding customers online can be so much more convenient and fun when it is a personalised online platform. Rather than providing a single and broad experience, personalisation allows us to present visitors with unique experiences tailored to their needs and desires. Customising their experience based on their past purchases, geography, or behaviours will churn out higher customer satisfaction, longer visit duration, boosted site visits, lower bounce rate, better conversions, and an improved brand reputation. Let’s look at an example, Netflix. Netflix uses existing data, qualitative data survey data, and past A/B test results to understand past and current behaviours of their consumers to provide contextual and personalised recommendations. Their data-driven approach is so successful that their consumers can’t get enough of them. Hence, utilising the data generated from the online platform can help us to understand the behaviours of customers.
Moreover, we can also use users’ comments and reviews to help customers in their decision-making process. Take Amazon, an early adopter and pioneer of user-generated content and reviews as an example. They have utilised it by linking every product listed on the site to dedicated customer reviews. This has gained and garnered an incredible amount of trust especially among millennials.
Strong back-end integrated system
Unfortunately, it’s not all about the shiny and sparkly, well-designed front end. In order to offer a great online customer experience in par with those offered at a brick-and-mortar setting, we also need an equally powerful back-end software system to ensure business is running in a timely and effective manner. The back-end consists of tasks to optimise the digital platform such as the server, application, database, content, plugins, and other elements that make your digital platform fully functional. A strong back-end software system is crucial in producing efficient and seamless operations for not only the customers, but especially business owners as well.
Automation is something some of the world’s big retailers like Amazon and JD.com are pursuing. Implications of automation can go beyond speed and convenience. There will definitely be an increase in overall scalability, productivity, and efficiency – in some cases, achieving outcomes that will go beyond human capabilities.
Having a solid back-end software system that allows real-time data to be collected, processed, and analysed in the blink of an eye will definitely speed up business decisions and processes. For example, if a bank wants to onboard customers, having an automated financing platform will be of great help. It reduces manpower involvement in an application process, which lowers the bank’s cost of manual or semi-automated operations. Furthermore, the banks can also automate the process of checking customers’ product eligibility and creditworthiness just by having engines, models, and calculators integrated at the back-end system.
Having a back-end integrated system also means much more data on customer interactions can be collected and analysed. Data analytics is impacting businesses big time. For example, these usable data can be utilised to determine effectiveness of implemented strategies, and seamless improvements and enhancements can be made. However, the process to turn these data into measurable analytics requires in-depth analysis. Having this constant commitment for improvement will enable front-end interactions with customers to seem effortless and organic. Moreover, from this vast pool of data, we can extract hidden gems of opportunity with great value such as increasing market understanding, improving industry knowledge, discovering new products and services, making faster and better decisions, reducing costs, and predicting customer behaviours.
Now is a great time to create and use digital platforms to onboard customers and wow them with impactful first impressions, optimised customer touchpoints, and strong back-end integrated systems. With the retail apocalypse and the Movement Control Order (MCO) situation happening to us right now, the importance of having a great online onboarding journey for customers now holds much more weight compared to brick-and-mortars’. We want to have a digital platform where customers have full confidence that they are not only getting great value, but great service as well.
If you would like to explore an integrated platform to onboard your customers, visit https://juristech.net/juristech/juris-access/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org to request for a free demo of Juris Access.