The lessons apply to brands online and offline across categories
By Vivek Das
Digital and CRM Lead
Blue Hive, India
Until the recent elections, India had experienced the worst slowdown in more than a quarter of a century, which resulted in a sharp decline in consumer confidence. Despite these conditions, the ecommerce sector continued to grow at a rapid rate.
Factors driving this rapid ecommerce growth include a the sharp rise in Internet usage, doubling in two years to 200 million in 2013, and a favorable demographic landscape. The average age of India’s population is 29, and over 450 million are in the 15-to-34 age group.
Over and above these factors, however, there is a focused strategy that now has become a benchmark for the ecommerce industry. This common yet differentiating strategy that cuts through all the successful ecommerce businesses is Total Customer Experience (TCE).
TCE is a customer’s journey from the first touch point to the last in a purchase cycle, and then through ownership and repurchase. For a brand that aims to be the most recognized, trusted, bought and recommended, a solid TCE strategy and plan is a must do.
Traditionally, TCE was implemented once a customer entered into a brand relationship. Today, a potential customer starts experiencing a brand subconsciously much before he or she even thinks about purchasing.
For ecommerce, the online focus is moving from delivering the right product to inducing or seeding purchase by using technology and analytics. And offline every single interaction from the customer service center to the delivery and returns process is aligned with the brand promise. Here are a few key considerations a brand must take into account when building a TCE strategy.
- The existing customer is your number one brand advocate. Knowing your customers is foremost. Customer satisfaction surveys do not suffice. Letting customers speak freely beyond checks and ratings is key. Customers need to be identified distinctly amid the social chatter. Analyzing online and offline conversations leads to powerful insights that can be leveraged to identify, seed and propagate positive word of mouth, as well as improve future products. A brand can thus start becoming part of a future customer’s social consciousness.
- Know your future customer. Segmentation studies suffer from approximation. Consumers evolve every day. Real time data leads to real time intelligence. Data from the store front, sales, clicks and page views on the website, content consumption and conversations all need to be integrated in a way that enables a brand to study patterns and predict who the next customer is going to be. In real time.
- Present information with consistency across channels. A top-notch search engine optimization strategy, even combined with an active engaging social strategy, is not sufficient. The information created and shared by all stakeholders of a brand is present across channels. The information must present a unified, consistent view of the brand. Information is device neutral, and in the mobile first era, it is critical that this information is accessible across devices in the applicable format.
- Be prepared to engage the empowered customer. A potential customer enters into your real or virtual storefront. Are you prepared to handle this empowered customer? Customized user experiences are key to addressing this challenge. A brand can leverage technology to deliver a tailored experience both online and offline. Big data analytics, session/cookie based personalization, tech enabled experience zones are the key tactics.
- Make a prospect a customer and make the relationship last. This is the penultimate step. Traditional buying experiences do not address the problem of the honeymoon period fading away quickly. A personalized and structured welcome and on-boarding strategy can result in the moment of delight lasting over several weeks, even months. Technology plays a crucial role in capturing real time feedback and tailoring the on-boarding experience. Customers also want to belong to a larger community to which they can connect, engage and share experiences. A brand can make this happen. It paves way for the next step, brand advocacy, and TCE goes full cycle.