The customer experience includes anything and everything that touches your customers. This means that wherever, whenever, and however customers interact with your brand, they’ll be expecting a seamless experience that has the same look and feel, level of service, and brand consistency. The customer experience, across all channels, is now what will differentiate a company from its competitors.
And that means a poor customer experience—on any channel—is a costly mistake.
In fact, price is no longer the key influencer of purchasing decisions. According to Defaqto Research, 55% of consumers would be willing to spend more money with a company that provides excellent customer service. There’s also a direct link between customer satisfaction and a company’s performance. In a Watermark Consulting study of Forrester Research’s annual Customer Experience Index rankings, CX leaders not only outperformed the broader stock market (35 percentage points higher than S&P 500) but performed 80 percentage points better than companies not focused on CX.
However, the omnichannel customer experience is anything but a straight line. Testing every step of the way ensures that you capture the whole of your customer’s experience and empowers you to design a solution that meets their unique needs.
Where to Begin? Initial Research on the Omnichannel Experience
To get an idea of how a customer interacts with your company throughout every touchpoint, gather both quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative data will indicate what’s happening and where customers are dropping off. Qualitative research will explain how customers feel about their experience with your company.
Quantitative: pinpoint areas of concern with analytics
To begin measuring the omnichannel customer experience and finding ways to improve it, web analytics are going to be one of the most valuable tools. One of the best places to start will be to compare conversion rates across different device types. If one channel stands out as less successful than the others, then it may be time to investigate further. You may also pinpoint certain steps in the shopper journey where customers drop off. Ask:
- How often are shopping carts abandoned on desktops, tablets, and smartphones?
- Which pages have the highest bounce rates?
- Do any pages have an unusually high or low time on page?
- Are metrics lower on one operating system or device model than on others?
If your company has a brick-and-mortar presence, compare web analytics with in-store analytics to get a full picture of the omnichannel experience.
Inspecting analytics for any concerning data is an excellent place to start, but it’s just that: a starting place. Just because something appears strange or negative in the data doesn’t explain what’s going through the customer’s head—or give any clues on how to make improvements. For those answers, it’s important to do some qualitative research.
Qualitative: gauge customer opinions with satisfaction surveys
Net Promoter Score (NPS) and customer satisfaction surveys are great for measuring customers’ opinion of your brand. NPS asks customers how likely they would be to recommend a company to a friend. Other types of customer surveys ask customers to rate their level of satisfaction with a recent purchase, an interaction with an employee, or the company overall. Although NPS and surveys are good for uncovering trends in the customer experience, they don’t necessarily give the context behind the opinion.
This is where user testing comes in.
To get a realistic picture of customers’ contextual experience, observe customers interacting with your company using different devices, preferably in their natural setting. User experience research involves watching real people attempting to complete various tasks speaking their thoughts aloud. This allows you to see where customers get frustrated or confused.
In a recent interview with Internet Retailer, Jet.com’s Director of Research Ben Babcock said, “You can only move as fast as your feedback streams provide. If we launch a new feature, I want to get some feedback on it the minute it launches. By having all these feedback streams from customers, we have a variety of touchpoints and data streams that help us identify areas where we can make improvements.”
Testing methods to try
1. Omnichannel testing: observe one process that involves multiple touchpoints
This type of test is meant to mimic how shoppers often behave in real life: completing different objectives (discovery, comparison, purchase) on different devices as they go throughout their day. Throughout the study, ask users to indicate when they would want to switch to a different device and why. To keep a test consistent, make sure that the same people complete each of the objectives in the same order.
2. Multi-channel testing: study the same process on each device type
This type of test is great for pinpointing user experience problems on each device and understanding why some device types convert better than others. For this type of study, write one test plan and have users attempt to complete the same set of tasks and questions on each different device and on each different operating system. In this case, it’s important to have different test participants for each device.
3. In-the-wild testing: investigate customer experience with physical products & locations
Using in-the-wild testing methods, one can observe how users interact with a company in specific locations or contexts, like shopping in a brick-and-mortar store. See how customers use digital properties, like a mobile site or app, while they’re physically in the store. Or run remote user tests to find out how customers unbox, setup, assemble, or install purchased products at home.
A company is only as strong as its weakest channel. To provide an omnichannel customer experience that goes above and beyond: measure, test, and optimize.
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