In most cases, price alone isn't the biggest factor in the low conversion rates that some websites see--it's subpar customer experiences. That's according to research by Qubit, a website optimization company, which decided to gauge just how valuable customer experiences are by analyzing more than 1.2 billion mobile website interactions.
The same is true for more than just website visits, though. If you want a cup of coffee or a box of Band-Aids, you could find a store for both on pretty much any street in any city. Companies that compete for your attention and loyalty these days can't really offer unique products anymore--after all, thousands of other companies in thousands of other cities offer the same.
So how does a coffee shop like Starbucks or a drugstore like CVS become a household name? Sure, great coffee and well-stocked aisles had something to do with it. For the most part, though, it was by creating experiences for customers that other companies couldn't offer, or hadn't thought to offer, yet. ("Good Samaritan" van, anyone?)
Not every company can be the next Starbucks or CVS, but no matter what industry you're in, you can turn your customers' experience into a significant competitive advantage by starting with these three steps:
1. Build a site that keeps up with your customers.
According to Google research, more than half of consumers will abandon your mobile website if they have to wait longer than three seconds for it to load. Once they leave, approximately 70 percent of those visitors will never come back, so the need for speed is critical.
Even well-known companies aren't immune. At one point, the online gifting service 1-800-Flowers scored only 56 percent on Google's Page Speed Index. After working closely with mobile website experts at Moovweb, the company boosted that score to 99 percent. CMO Amit Shah says1-800-Flowers immediately saw "a considerable uplift in conversation rate." Getting your website's backend up to speed will significantly enhance your customer's digital experience with your brand.
2. Reward people for sharing their great experiences.
Having a website that keeps up with consumers will improve the chances of them staying on it, but it's only one piece of the puzzle. The next step is to encourage them to want to share that experience. When you offer rewards for referrals, you turn customers into brand advocates. That's why 67 percent of B2B business now have a customer advocacy program in place.
When Airbnb introduced a referral program, it saw a 25 percent increase in bookings in some markets and referred customers spent more money on the platform. Airbnb engineer Jason Bosinoff notes that the referral program is "highly measurable, scalable, and is all about identifying a growth pattern that's already happening." Follow Airbnb's lead and identify your most engaged customers. Then cultivate their loyalty--and meet their friends--by instituting a referral rewards program.
3. Start a conversation.
Wondering how your customer experience efforts are shaping up? Fortunately, you don't have to wait to see how great (or not-so-great) an experience you're providing. Make collecting feedback a priority, preferably in real-time, by sending surveys to customers after each interaction. Deliver them through automated emails, outbound calls, or even via your app.
Employee feedback is just as important, though it's not often made a priority in the customer experience conversation. Employees are the people your customers see and deal with every day. They, too, have insightful feedback into what areas need improvement and what customers would prefer. Use in-house project management and CRM software to create a continuous feedback loop through which employees and management can share their insights. Tie customer surveys to specific employees so they can see how they're impacting the customer experience, and create a culture where all feedback, positive and negative, is acceptable.
As you strive to stay competitive, there's a lot to consider, including your products, services, and prices and those of your competition. Just remember that your customer experience also plays a big role. If you speed your customer's digital interactions with you, reward their loyalty, and pay attention to the conversation around their experiences, you will rise to the challenge easily.