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Have you ever had a positive customer experience? What is the first thing you do? You will usually share that experience with your family, friends, and coworkers. That experience will have an impact on your decision making when it comes to future purchases or brand loyalty. This is a simple philosophy as old as time. However, the recent changes in consumer behavior related to the COVID-19 pandemic has opened a new lane for businesses to focus on, and that is the online customer experience. With consumers shopping online now more than ever, businesses and brands are constantly looking for a way to gain an advantage over their competitors and they will look to do so by bringing the in-store experience to the e-commerce world. 

First, a business needs to understand and evaluate the five steps in the customer journey which are: Awareness, Consideration, Purchase, Retention, and Loyalty. It is here that companies will need to adapt and focus on how their product or offering fits into this journey. They need to put themselves in the shoes of the consumer and ask how to create a memorable online experience that will keep them coming back as well as creating a customer that promotes.

A recent study revealed that 80 percent of consumers care more about their experience than the products they actually buy and are willing to pay more for an excellent experience. So now that companies shift and begin to put more planning behind managing relationships, they will look to implement these strategies:

  • Create a personalized online user experience.
  • Use data tracking to manage their customer relationships.
  • Use automated chats to gain feedback and handle customer service issues.
  • Create online loyalty and retention programs.

As with most digital offerings, technology will play a crucial role. Creating personalized communication with consumers will help keep them engaged and informed. Things like booking appointments online, text reminders, automated email updates, and customer service chatbots will help keep the connection to the business. But what do all these items have in common? They provide data. Customer data will be the driving force to future success when it comes to the online experience. Customers are expecting brands to listen to their needs and make their shopping experience as personalized as possible. Those companies who can recognize their customers preferences, purchase history, and be able to deliver the right product suggestion or marketing at the right time will reap the benefits.

Looking at 2021 and beyond, the digital customer experience will be even more important for businesses as they target large consumer groups like Gen Z. Gen Z currently makes up nearly 40% of US consumers and they have expectations of value, choice, and quality when it comes to retail and brands. Not to mention, they all grew up with the internet, cell phones, social media, and e-commerce. It will be interesting to see how companies target some of those ideals in order to provide a top tier experience. The better businesses can adapt to online consumer demands, the better they’ll be able to offer a more positive customer experience.

Written by:
Bob Freas
Social Media Specialist