How To Design A Winning Online Customer Experience
Many factors determine the success of your online business but how you view your customers will make all the difference in the world.
Do you think of them as buyers who want to purchase your products and services? Or do you see them as human beings who have an inherent desire to satisfy their needs and wants?
Because if you are in the first category you need to start viewing your customers as the humans that they are, not simply just buyers that help to grow your business and profits.
And humans are complex emotional beings who also happen to be consumers. You can have tons of functional data about them and still not be able to understand their purchasing behaviour.
"Some of the main features of emotional attachment are the needs for comfort, respect, support, security and consistency which your brand has to satisfy in order to offer a positive customer experience"
It makes sense then to not rely heavily on data insights but to get to know your customers on an emotional level too, if you want to appeal to their needs and wants.
This requirement deserves attention because no matter how strongly we want to believe that as humans we are rational beings, science tells us that most of our decisions are guided by emotions.
Psychology and neuroscience suggest that when people evaluate brands and products, brain data processing and rational analysis take a passive stance. The power of emotion takes the lead which means that we make our purchasing decisions in an emotional rather than rational way.
Online Is The New Battleground To Win Consumer Loyalty
Once upon a time the physical stores were the only retail environment we would visit to buy products or services. Today we have digital and physical stores that are two different retail environments.
However, your customers are still the same human beings regardless of which environment they intend to shop in.
There’s no doubt that customers have the same high expectations from digital stores as they have from the physical. As a brand you are expected to provide meaningful, memorable online experiences if you are to have a touch of magic that customers will associate with your brand.
There are thousands of brands online that consumers might find attractive. Is attraction enough for a long-term relationship with your customers? Of course not. You need to go beyond customer satisfaction by turning attraction into emotional attachment that binds the customer into a psychological commitment to your brand.
Some of the main features of emotional attachment are the needs for comfort, respect, support, security and consistency which your brand has to satisfy in order to offer a positive customer experience.
Therefore, when it comes to securing a psychological contract with your online customers, the role of emotions can’t be overlooked.
Consumers are influenced by emotional factors when shopping online as they are when they shop in a physical store. In other words how your customers feel about your online business largely depends on the emotions that your brand evokes.
You need to customise your website atmospheric cues such as information, ease of navigation or payment, to align with the emotions you want to provoke in your customers.
And when it comes to triggering emotions, the importance of multisensory cues is critical.
Unfortunately, no matter how technologically evolved humans become, we are still unable to use the power of all five senses to create immersive multisensory experiences online. It’s easier to create such experiences in your physical store but for now it’s impossible to do it online.
"Your customers buy relationships, happiness, wellbeing and other psychologically oriented needs and wants"
Maybe one day, in the not too distant future, your online store could produce a fragrant smell that evokes a positive emotion with the touch of a button. However for now, you could target emotions by offering immersive visual and audio sensory experiences.
Colourful images, pleasant sounds and engaging content that trigger positive emotional responses will make customers associate those emotions with your brand.
And it doesn’t stop there.
In the process, your customers will start forming emotional attachments without consciously recognising the whole dynamic between them and your online store. The deeper emotional attachment consumers develop with your brand the more likely they are to buy and pay more for your products and services.
Make emotions central to your online strategy because people don’t buy products and services per se. They buy relationships, happiness, wellbeing and other psychologically oriented needs and wants.
A beautifully designed online store, that triggers the right emotions to give customers positive experiences married to positive feelings, will lead to desired action.
Zana Busby is a Business & Consumer psychologist and the author of the book Life Equilibrium