7 Ways SMEs Can Improve Online Customer Experience

Ecommerce is all about customer experience. You can't meet your shoppers face-to-face, so it's important to build confidence through your website - here are seven ways to do it.

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Ecommerce is all about customer experience. You can't meet your shoppers face-to-face, so it's important to build confidence through your website - here are seven ways to do it.


7 Ways SMEs Can Improve Online Customer Experience

Ecommerce is all about customer experience. You can't meet your shoppers face-to-face, so it's important to build confidence through your website - here are seven ways to do it.

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Taking time to improve the online customer experience is essential for SMEs to increase conversion rates and ultimately bottom line sales. Here are seven simple quick-wins SMEs can implement as part of their digital marketing strategy to improve the customer experience:

1)      Add social proof to your website

Social proofing your website gives potential customers approval from current users of a product or service and can be a very influential selling tool. As shoppers, we buy products that make us feel good about ourselves or that we think will enrich our lives in some way.  Genuine reviews and testimonials can trigger an emotional response and be the push some potential customers need to complete a particular purchase.

Testimonials can be one of the most persuasive forms of social proof but must be done correctly to improve the customer experience and ensure they are left with a positive impression of a brand.

Fake testimonials are easy to spot, insult your audience, leaving them wondering why your brand must rely on fabricated reviews and if they can trust you. For these reasons, testimonials should always be legitimate and are more likely to be believed when they are accompanied by the face of the person that is making the statement. People like looking at human faces on the web – this is especially true if they are inviting and friendly.

2)      Don’t play hard to get

Some companies make it impossible for you to contact them – you know the ones I mean. The contact number is featured at the bottom of the website out of sight, the contact form is hidden as a drop-down and there are no details on where they are based.

Whilst your potential customer is sent on a treasure hunt around your site for this important information, they are questioning the legitimacy of your company and deciding on whether or not to trust you.


Online shoppers tend to break before the bend

If users visiting your website do not trust your brand, then they will not buy your products or use your service so make this information available to them and give users multiple ways to interact with you. Some will prefer Live Chat or filling in a contact form over picking up the telephone and speaking with your team directly. It is important to cater for all of these users.

Car Hire company First Self Drive does this well and provides visitors to its website with various ways to contact them.  At a glance, potential customers landing on the homepage can clearly find the telephone number or submit a form easily for more information. The company’s social media channels are also detailed above the fold.

Opening hours are also readily available, which is another important element to factor into a website so that potential and existing customers know how they should contact you.  Being transparent about the little details provides value to the user and really can make a difference.

3)      Make your website mobile-friendly

One quarter of users will leave a website if it is not mobile optimised. We’ve all been there – you log on to a website to either buy a product or do some research and the design is clunky, the writing is tiny and several of the features don’t work properly because you are not browsing on a desktop device.

The whole experience leaves you with a bad aftertaste and you’re unlikely to return to the site again unless it’s a major brand that you have long-standing loyalty to.

Consumer behaviour and search engine results are both evolving, emphasising the important role of mobile. Research shows that 63% of people go online to research products and activities - 18% of that research is on mobile and this number is only set to increase.

Last year, Google announced that mobile-friendly design is now a ranking factor for how it ranks websites in its results pages, meaning that a non-friendly site will no longer perform well in Google’s mobile search.

4)      Engage with your customers

SMEs can connect with potential customers using social media in a number of ways but it important to be strategic when selecting which platforms to use.  The secret to doing social media well as an SME is to identify which platforms customers are using and then focusing on one or two of these channels.

Once you have selected your channels the key to engaging with customers and generating interest in your brand is to provide value. The hard-sell tactic doesn’t work on social media – it’s all about building up a personal relationship.

social media

It's about creating a balance between creating a conversation and gentle sales messages

The great thing about social media is it can be used by any industry to reach out to potential customers. For example, Norwich based coach hire company, Maretts Chariots, is a great example of a SME striking the right balance with content on its social media.

Their Facebook page presents company news in an interesting way, features testimonials from customers, asks questions to spark engagement and makes great use of imagery.  It also injects humour into some of its posts, which is a great way to humanise a brand and form a connection with the audience.

5)      Get personal

In this digital age online users have become accustomed to receiving a personalised service. Luckily, digital brands have access to a large amount of data which can be used to personalise the customer shopping experience.

This works very well for ecommerce retailers where personalisation can be used to mirror an individual customer’s shopping habits and make product suggestions based on their profile, encouraging them to take action and come back again.

A survey conducted by DigitasLBi last year, showed that 62% of respondents would buy more and/ or more often when met with a personalised retail experience.  Personalisation can be a powerful way of building brand loyalty.

6)      It’s all about them

Too many SME websites focus on themselves instead of addressing the customer’s pain-points. This may seem obvious but you’ll be surprised at the number of companies that go into great depth about their history on the homepage and their own achievements.

While some users may find it interesting that your great Uncle Paul set the business up 25 years ago, most potential customers want to know what you can do for them, how you can solve their problems and why you are better than your competitors.

Think of the homepage of your website as your shop window on the internet and always keep the focus of your copy on helping your potential customers.


Many online shoppers just want to get to the good stuff

7)      Break down barriers

Taking the time to analyse how people are interacting with your website is really important in identifying what works well on your site and where you need to make improvements.  Perhaps your website navigational structure confuses users and they are unsure how to find the information they need.

Alternatively, if you’re an e-commerce business you may notice that users are dropping off at the checkout and abandoning their basket or shopping cart. Frustrated users are more likely to head straight for the exit and straight on to a competitor’s website.

Finding out the problems users are experiencing with your website and taking time to fix these issues will make their journey much easier and will ensure that your chance of losing sales and opportunities is significantly reduced.

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7 Ways SMEs Can Improve Online Customer Experience

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