A trend in 2011 will undoubtedly be the optimization of the user experience. Consumers are looking for clear signs that brands understand their needs and desires, making their interactions more intuitive and more efficient. Consumers are less and less willing to wade through irrelevant data, subjecting themselves to an experience which to them is about as much fun as being a human dartboard.
Optimizing the online experience for consumers means giving them the control and at the same time, reducing the impact on your resources. When done correctly, the result is a more engaged consumer who walks away from the experience feeling you really value their time and take the effort out of making a purchase.
Show you value your customer's time
People do not let time go lightly when shopping for themselves or seeking solutions for their work. As with the fable of "The Princess and the Pea", the smallest bump of inconvenience is a jagged rock beneath them when we are talking about a consumer's time. At every step in the interaction, you must demonstrate you value their time every bit as much as they do.
Each time a consumer returns to your site, the buying experience should be just that much smoother and more intuitive because you've built a profile based on their actions and have an idea of what they want. Achieve relevancy by personalization. Knowing this and demonstrating it, can lead to more purchases via such features as product (you may also like) recommendations.
There was a time when salespeople in brick and mortar stores were more than just shelf restockers and POS operators. You could walk into a shop and have someone who would help do your shopping with you - a product specialist who could make intuitive suggestions based on some simple information provided by you. An ally whose job it was to improve your experience by helping you to get it done quickly and even more importantly, done right. This is the kind of service brands must bring to their online shopping experience or become increasingly irrelevant to the consumer.
Walk the extra mile
With SaaS and automation tools, companies can roll out enhancements to their websites much more easily than having to fundamentally revamp an entire website. "Plug ins" or "add on" services offer the kind of data tracking which can provide the information required to enhance a user's experience in the way it was done manually in the old days of department store shopping.
Automation services allow you not only to be someone's personal shopper, but be the personal shopper who is everywhere the shopper is when they are there. Be it the middle of the night or at peak business hours, via phone, email, website or social, you can be that personal assistant.
Every smart sales person knows that going that little extra step for a customer carries a great deal of weight with most prospects. People appreciate that personal touch even if there isn't a person doing it, when it enhances their experience. To be able to provide it, you need a cross-channel approach and an integration of marketing tools and CRM.
Optimize the experience for the user and you offer them more than just a great product - you offer them a sense of satisfaction. Be like that smart sales person: sell by facilitating the buying process through the optimization of the user experience.
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