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Joanne Grantz
 
May 13, 2015 | Joanne Grantz

Put the customer experience first

What makes your online customers purchase more bottles of wine? It may not have as much to do with price as another critical factor: the customer experience.  If your website isn't optimizing every single customer experience, you risk missing out on sales and consumers will be unlikely to return to your site.

More companies understand the importance of the customer experience
Over the past few years, as consumer demands evolved, websites have had to keep up with users' growing expectations. This has left marketers scrambling to enhance the customer experience as more and more, this is seen as a differentiating factor.

According to new research from Ensighten and Econsultancy more marketers than ever think customer experience optimization is critical to their marketing strategies. Ninety-six percent of businesses polled said this was important and 41 percent said it's a top concern for their company.

Why is to so important? Ninety-four percent of companies said they focused on the customer experience because it bumped up engagement and conversion, while another 66 percent said consumers had a better view of their company as a result.

You can't afford to fall behind the customer experience curve. The "Customers 2020" report from Walker Information revealed that this will be more important to shoppers than price in the next five years.

How are you doing when it comes to customer experience?
The good news is that more businesses recognize the growing importance of the consumer experience. The bad news is that they aren't doing as well with it as they think they are. A report from Bain & Company showed that 80 percent of surveyed companies thought they provided a "superior experience." However, as it turns out, they are overestimating their ability to deliver in this area, as a mere 8 percent of customers said businesses provided them with great experiences.

How can the customer experience be improved?
There are many ways in which a company can enhance the customer experience, and they're all of equal importance. The most successful wineries aren't just implementing one or two of these tactics - they're using them all.

•             Fast e-commerce fulfillment: No one likes to wait for a package.  Ineffective wine shipping practices will certainly be detrimental to the customer experience. Even if the rest of the process is flawless, inefficient or slow shipping can spoil an otherwise enjoyable shopping experience.

•             A website that's easy to navigate: The fastest way to lose a potential consumer is to make items difficult to find on your website. A fresh set of eyes can help show you where the website's customer experience is going awry.

•             Remember customer preferences: Does your company give customers the option to save their information, preferences and purchase histories? If not, you're making it harder for them to buy from you.  Past order information, favorites and credit card and address information should be saved to expedite the checkout process.

•             Regular and meaningful communication:  Post purchase emails, periodic special offers show that you care.  Segment your customers so you are making the communications tailored to their needs. No more "one size fits all" approach.

Do you have a favorite commerce site?  Make note of the things that keep you coming back to purchase.  Implement those attributes that keep you engaged on your own site.

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