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Why Improving Customer Experience is the Only Option for E-Commerce Firms
CloudCherry | Featured | July 13, 2016
E-commerce firms like Flipkart & Snapdeal are focusing on customer satisfaction to drive loyalty and ultimately, higher revenues. Over the last 5 years, e-commerce has experienced rapid growth in India, driven by deep discounts that were backed by investor funding. India continues to be among the coveted prizes for e-commerce firms; a potential market next only to USA and China.
This focus on customer satisfaction has come after Amazon’s rapid growth; faster than Flipkart & Snapdeal. Amazon has been successful in gaining market share in India right from its launch in 2013. The growth has come on the back of deep discounts and aggressive funding from the parent company. It is yet to be seen whether Amazon can sustain this growth profitably over the long term. Having said that, Amazon does seem to have followed its global customer-centric model for success in India as well; wide selection, cost reduction, low prices, reliance on technology and fast delivery.
There were arguments being made even earlier that rapid growth by offering lower prices will not be sustainable. As elaborated by Michael Porter in the 1980s, firms that can offer lower prices and remain profitable need to have lower cost operations. This is often not possible due to various reasons. Critics pointed out that sustainable growth can only come from differentiation or a value proposition that is better than competition.
After all, there can be only one cost leader. Flipkart in particular has publicly disclosed the use of Net Promoter Score® (NPS®) and customer satisfaction as key metrics to be managed, going forward. In a way, e-commerce firms are following the Indian philosophy of karma yoga; focusing on inputs (outstanding customer experience) and letting results (revenues) take care of themselves.
How can e-commerce firms offer the best customer experience? Our opinion is that the starting point should be developing a Customer Journey Map (CJM). A CJM provides a map of the complete experience of the customer with the company/brand. It allows one to visualize the customer’s journey; a stepping stone to measuring and improving it! Typically, an e-commerce customer’s journey would start with information search and end with advocacy. The table below summarizes the journey. While developing the CJM, it is natural for distinct phases to emerge.
With such a journey and its constituent phases in place, it is now possible to list the interactions that an e-commerce firm has with the customer. At this stage, it is important to list all interactions. The more detail, the better the final result. For example, in the delivery and installation phase, there could be a number of interactions such as:
1. Status update through notifications
2. Call made by delivery staff to ascertain address and/or delivery date and time
4. Payment (if applicable)
5. Installation update through notifications (if applicable)
6. Call made by installation staff to ascertain address and/or installation date and time (if applicable)
7. Installation (if applicable)
For each interaction, measurement parameter(s) need to be developed. For example, those who visited website in the “Discover” phase could be asked for feedback on parameters like ease of finding website, aesthetics/design, ease of getting information they searched for, display compatibility (if using mobile) etc.
However, it is not possible to ask customers feedback about all interactions through the journey all the time. The key is to choose the critical ones for soliciting feedback and ask them at a frequency that maximizes response rates.
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Finally, for each interaction; the right question needs to be asked at the right time using the right channel. Questions for each interaction should also be framed carefully; focusing on the core issue. For example, in case a single question is to be asked, NPS® is a good bet.
Further, for each critical interaction, the trigger for soliciting feedback needs to be decided. For example, immediately after making a purchase is a good time for feedback. The channel through which feedback is to be collected needs to be planned. For example, email is better in case the number of questions is longer while a pop-up question is great for quick feedback.
By using a systematic process, e-commerce firms can become customer-centric and differentiate themselves from competition. Detailing out the journey allows e-commerce employees to think from the customer’s point of view. For example, can items be delivered at the date and time preferred by the consumer? Is this something that customers want badly and how can this be achieved? This is a sustainable strategy for winning over the long term.
CloudCherry provides a Customer Experience Management (CEM) platform which enables e-commerce firms to do all of the above and more! It provides a single platform for asking all the questions along the customer’s journey with an e-commerce firm using the most appropriate channel. The collected data is analyzed and automatically reported in standard templates in real-time. With CloudCherry, e-commerce firms can truly focus on delivering a differentiated brand experience consistently!
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“Net Promoter, Net Promoter System, Net Promoter Score, NPS and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.”