How Top Brands Stay Ahead of the Competition Online
Jack Maden | September 8, 2017
Jack Maden | September 8, 2017
Customer expectations online are higher than they've ever been.
When the internet was new and exciting, we cut it some slack. Connections weren't always reliable, websites could crash at any point - but the world suddenly seemed so much smaller, and the optimism surrounding this hyperconnectivity outweighed any growing pains. 'I can order my shopping online?' people dreamily wondered: 'that's outrageous.'
Now the novelty has worn off, we hold it to the same no-nonsense consumer standards as everything else. Never mind crashing; if a website has slightly unintuitive forms or an app has animations that load a bit slowly, with a click of a mouse and a swipe of the thumb, they're consigned to history.
These rising customer expectations online are compounded by companies that get it right. Every fast delivery from Amazon, every easy trip on Uber, every successful stay on Airbnb - these overwhelmingly positive experiences raise the bar not just for direct competitors, but for any business in the digital space.
The rise of industry-independent customer expectations
Erin Kurusz, Dell's VP of Business Transformation, states that one of the most significant challenges Dell faces is industry-independent customer expectations. Before digital, businesses had to be the best in their industry for customers to like them. Now, they have to offer one of the best experiences on the internet to receive recognition.
Say a customer has had a really good experience with an online grocery delivery in the past, Erin explains. That customer now expects those same levels of service from Dell - and anything that falls short is deemed a poor experience.
Never mind the fact a grocery store and technology company have entirely separate supply chains and face distinct challenges, the customer expects a similar level of service because the way the product is bought - i.e. online - is the same.
The impact on digital strategy
These rising customer expectations are having a direct impact on the way forward-thinking brands develop their digital strategies. Tim Mapes, CMO of Delta Air Lines, states that when it comes to optimizing Delta's services he and his team look at leading companies that operate entirely outside the airline industry.
"The answers to Delta's opportunities to improve," he says, "aren't in the airline space at all. They're in digital spaces - what can we learn from Amazon? What can we learn from Disney? What can we learn from other world-leading companies that are fantastic at different dimensions of the online customer journey?"
With businesses looking beyond their own industry for inspiration, the way they provide services for their customers is fundamentally changing.
Creating fantastic customer experiences
As customer expectations continue to rise, companies must continually optimize in order to meet them. And this optimization depends on one crucial factor: visibility into customer experiences.
Without knowing the sentiment behind customer actions, businesses are in the dark when it comes to making their services better. And this is no different online. Knowing why customers behave the way they do on websites and apps is vital for improving their experiences, and reaping the rewards that such improvements can bring.
Leading publisher LexisNexis, for example, increased the revenue of its UK website by 81% - and its conversion rate by 77% - a year after placing customer experience analytics at the heart of its optimization program, and building experiences around the customer insights that came with it.
Companies that stay ahead of the competition increasingly do so by not concerning themselves so much with the competition. They meet customer expectations head on by listening, learning, and optimizing. They strive to provide customers with novel digital experiences reminiscent of those heady days of wonder at the potential of the internet, rather than becoming just another app that - after one slow load - is consigned to the bin.