The term "customer experience" or "CX" refers to the sum total of all interactions that someone has with your business - before, during and after they make a purchase. It includes more than the research and purchase process alone. CX is something of critical importance, particularly in the modern era, where competition is fierce and it's increasingly difficult for brands to differentiate themselves.
One recent study revealed that 86% of people are willing to pay more to guarantee a great customer experience. Likewise, brands that offer a superior customer experience by way of a well-crafted customer service approach tend to have retention rates that hover at around 92%.
Today, many (if not most) business' interactions with someone are likely going to be taking place the same way: over the Internet. Once you realize that 93% of all online experiences still begin via a search engine, you begin to realize just how important your website is to those fragile early days of your customer experience efforts. Not only that, but as the relationships with your prospects and customers mature, it's beneficial to provide them with a centralized place they can go to get the information they need about the products or services they will buy from you, have bought from you, or will recommend to others.
This, in essence, is why web design is incredibly valuable to the overall CX. The following article outlines how to improve it through strategic design efforts..
This Is Not About Change For the Sake of Change
Whether you're launching a new website or redesigning an existing one, never implement change just for the sake of it. With every decision you make, you need to begin by asking this question: "is this a positive change that will ultimately improve our client experience with this area of our business?"
Start with your audience and figure out what they need to gain the insight required to define your CX strategy. Think about the process they have to go through to make a purchase, for example. They will have questions. You'll need to provide answers in a way that is both easy and enjoyable for them to engage with. You'll need to support your customers throughout the exploration, and purchasing processes. Effective web design helps tremendously with strategic, sequential content delivery and navigation.
CX also extends beyond surface level design to how your site functions. According to one study, 39% of people say that they will stop engaging with a website if the images won't load or if they take too long to load. Be cognizant of the fact that the information your audience is looking for may be there, but if you're not giving it to them fast enough (for example), they'll have a poor experience. Therefore, a site with fast-loading images and quality content helps push your CX efforts forward.
Similarly, this also applies to responsive web design - something that allows you to optimize a single version of your site to display elegantly on any device a customer might be using. According to one recent study, mobile devices now account for nearly two out of every three minutes we spend online. Desktop Internet consumption has actually declined in recent years, while tablet and smartphone Internet consumption grew by 30% and 78% over a two year period, respectively. Businesses must meet the needs of format-agnostic content consumption to provide the most agile and convenient CX.
If your site is delivering poor CX, you're not having the positive impact on your customers that you thought you were. Therefore, leveraging web design principles like RWD becomes another opportunity to empower and reinforce what you're trying to offer. The bottom line is that all of your CX website revisions should be based around a well thought out CX strategy that considers marketing, sales and customer service pillars, information architecture, content delivery sequencing, brand goals and much more. They should never be executed simply out of a designer's intuition or gut feel in the absence of your business goals, audience segments and data.
You're In It For the Long Haul
You also need to establish firm, measurable and realistic measurement criteria to help guide your efforts moving forward. What, specifically, do you need your online presence to do? Are you trying to raise awareness about your brand? Increase organic traffic via search engines? Increase qualified leads? Increase conversions? Something else entirely?
It's possible to do all of these things with web design, but they all require their own unique approaches. By understanding what you need to accomplish, you can make focused, targeted decisions that help you achieve them. As an added benefit, you'll also be able to track your progress in a much more meaningful way. If you tried to use web design to create a site that would increase qualified leads and that's not happening, something has gone wrong along the way. By setting the right goals and milestones, you'll be better able to find the cause of the problem more easily and takes steps to improve it in a timely manner.
Don't Be Overwhelmed
All told, you have an enormous amount of control over the CXs in your business. Web design is one of the most direct and trackable ways you can improve it. By conducting market research, customer surveys, and analyzing the behavior of your target audience(s) on your website, you'll discover the type of experience that works best to help you achieve desired results. Again, it's about more than just buying a product or service - people want to enjoy the process that comes along with it and effortless communication.
An asset like a website is more than just a virtual business card. For many, it's a first step towards a larger relationship with your brand - one that will hopefully be as positive as possible. The opportunity to use web design and behavioural analytics best practices to improve your overall customer experience becomes more critical for marketing success every day.
Is Your Website Optimizing All Digital Aspects of Your Customer Experience?