May 5, 2020, 06:00am EDT
Serenity Gibbons Contributor
Successful businesses prioritize great online experiences. Now that everyone’s stuck at home, stellar customer experiences have evolved from important to essential. With small businesses struggling and economic activity at historic lows, only the savviest companies will survive.
Companies that fail to wow consumers with intuitive and functional online experiences can’t expect to keep their customers coming back. People today have too many options online to waste time on sites that fail to meet their sky-high expectations.
Take your online customer experience to the next level with these 10 tips:
1. Maintain a consistent voice across channels.
Your customers should be able to recognize your company without any obvious branding to guide them. Use a style guide to set rules for how you communicate on your website, on social channels, and even in your shopping cart. Eliminate typos and grammatical mistakes to ensure everyone takes your online presence seriously. Freelance writers and editors, which you can find on sites like Upwork and Fiverr, can help polish your online presence.
2. Optimize loading times.
The faster your pages load, the less likely your customers are to bounce before you have a chance to woo them. Reduce loading times to maximize your sales opportunities and customer engagement. Moz recommends optimizing images, leveraging browser caching, and following other best practices to keep your site running at top speed.
3. Create a few pieces of stellar content.
Users don’t just visit your site and social channels to buy things. They also want to learn about your products and services, see what makes your company different, and possibly interact with other fans of your brand. Your on-site content can fulfill these desires, but don’t mistake quantity for quality. Spend more effort creating a few genuinely informative or entertaining pieces instead of pumping out tons of uninteresting or derivative content.
4. Put more focus on your URLs.
The quality of your URLs doesn’t just affect your SEO strategy. Site navigation is important not only for your sales funnel, but also for your customers’ online experience. Make sure your URLs direct your customers to the information they want and need to know.
Complicated or confusing URLs can also push your customers away. EasyRedir, a URL redirection service, provides a helpful breakdown of the different URL components and how they affect your link strategy and your brand.
5. Build easy interaction into the site.
Customers don’t just want to hear from you; they also want to hear from other customers. Help them do so by incorporating social proof into your website. Keep an updated section of customer reviews so buyers recognize both the quality of your offerings and your commitment to great service.
6. Communicate with transparency.
Today’s customers expect brands to communicate with transparency and operate with integrity. Talk on your website about how you source your products, and practice social responsibility. When you run out of stock, be honest on product pages and provide accurate estimates for restocking times. Make it easy for customers to sign up for notifications of restocks with one-click single-line forms.
7. Remove or reduce clicks and forms.
Speaking of simple forms, customers don’t enjoy writing essays just to check out or download something. Limit your information-gathering efforts to essential data only on your website and social channels. You can use later opportunities like email to collect more information. For the first interaction, stick with getting your foot in the door.
8. Enable live chat at all hours.
Even if you can’t staff a full team of customer service agents 24 hours a day, chatbots can keep your business open all night long. AI search and social company Acquisio lays out the benefits of different kinds of chatbots, including those on social media sites, to help small business owners find the right one.
9. Fix your shopping cart.
Shopping cart abandonment gets expensive, especially when small businesses need all the income they can get. Optimize your shopping cart to reduce your bounce rate and get more shoppers to the end of the purchase process. Chargebee, a company that specializes in subscription billing for B2B SaaS companies, recommends offering multiple payment options and free shipping to keep buyers on track.
10. Collect feedback when customers leave.
When customers cancel their subscriptions or choose not to purchase, find out why by asking what turned them away in a pop-up or email. Use this opportunity to learn how to design a better experience for the future (and potentially collect contact information in the process). Keep your feedback collection simple with a single question and multiple-choice answers.
Pandemic or no pandemic, small businesses can’t flourish without a great online experience. With a few tweaks, you can eliminate friction and frustration on your website to keep customers coming back.