Five Questions for… Vincent Aniol Senior RE-/UX consultant at valantic
For 78% of companies, user experience and customer experience are the key factors in e-commerce and multi-channel sales. They decide the success or lack of success when introducing new portals and technologies. valantic and Lünendonk reached this conclusion in a survey conducted in July 2020.
What makes for good customer experience in e-commerce and what do e-shop operators need to keep an eye on? Vincent Aniol, RE-/UX consultant at valantic CEC Schweiz answers these questions.
Why has customer experience become so important today, as current surveys confirm?
There are two main reasons for this: Ever more people are being born into the digital world and they expect that things in their professional life will work as easily as on their smartphones. Today, customers are much more digitally inclined than they were five or ten years ago. Large companies such as Apple and Amazon, which are omnipresent in everyday life, are showing us how easy consumer products can work.
”The hurdles to change are extremely low. One click and the customer’s gone.“
The second reason: Competition on the market is stiff. Many products differentiate themselves exclusively via the customer experience. Let’s take the example of music streaming services: Nearly all providers are offering the same thing, they have nearly identical flat rates and price structures, and they work on all devices. The hurdles to change are extremely low. One click and the customer’s gone. Which provider acquires the most customers frequently depends on how the app is designed and how well the product fits into the customer’s life. Good customer experience keeps customers from changing horses.
Isn’t it possible for an e-commerce solution to work well even with a poor CX and UX? Examples would be e-shops with electronic components for nerds and shops with very low prices?
Electronic components for nerds is a good example. Perhaps the customer experience isn’t as important to this specialized clientèle, but every customer has a customer experience, regardless of whether or not he or she thinks this is important. If electronic components in an e-shop are difficult to find because the search is too restrictive or the navigation is unclear, then the nerds will buy these products from the competition.
Price is a huge topic and even shops that are not aesthetically pleasing can work. However, the secret lies in the potential. With better customer experience, you can attract more satisfied customers who will return and buy more. Purchasing processes and prices are an implicit psychological and overall topic. If you take the trouble to use research to understand how people proceed when shopping, you can improve the purchasing process in a poorly designed shop yourself.
”Customers pay higher prices without hesitating if shipping is fast or the photos in the shop are realistic.“
Design refers not just to how the site looks, but also to everything customers can do in the e-shop and which content they see when. Offering users the right additional item at just the right moment or reducing hurdles to check-out can increase sales significantly. Frequently, customers pay higher prices without hesitating if they notice that shipping is very fast or that the pictures in the shop are really meaningful, realistic, and big. But if the navigation, the shopping cart or check-out is subject to errors, customers may gladly pay a little more to shop with the competition.
What are frequent errors in CX research?
I have often noticed that even at the start of a research interview, users are confronted with questions such as “What do you think about…?” Questions like this usually don’t achieve the desired goal. The reason lies in the so-called “value-action gap,” which is a psychological gap between what people do and what they say.
Generally, people aren’t very good at reflecting on and correctly reporting their behavior, so customers may behave differently in an online shop than they tell the interviewer. It is critical for UX professionals to understand users’ behavior and translate the results into appropriate designs.
For e-commerce, you could use the analytics data as the behavioral basis and then conduct interviews based on this. If, for example, customers frequently return to a previous page during the check-out process, then the question “Why do you feel you need to go back again?” might be more productive than asking “What would you think of a check-out page like this?”
Only if UX professionals recognize problems with the check-out can they redesign the process so that the problems are solved. valantic’s customer Winterhalter + Fenner implemented a very good e-commerce solution, which won a “Best of Swiss Web” award in the “Digital Commerce” category.
What do you think: What percentage of sales are e-commerce operators giving away by operating a shop with poor CX and UX?
Customer experience is a very broad topic, one that is difficult to sum up in figures. That’s why it’s not possible to measure precisely what percentage e-shop operators are giving away with inadequate customer experience. What you can measure, however, are individual aspects of customer experience such as aborted transaction rates, average shopping cart size, the percentage of returning customers, and the time required for check-out. E-shop operators who optimize these figures stand to gain a lot.
Which tools and software can be used to perfect the dialogue with customers?
Perhaps it is astonishing, but I’m of the opinion that relatively simple tools and offline contact are becoming more important. Of course we live in a digital world and we also have a lot of digital tools to choose from. But when the concern is CX research, then whenever possible, personal contact with users is always very helpful, which means go and see or call them. You establish empathy through personal contact. In the end, the solutions that inspire people are the ones where we can establish a lot of empathy and users feel they are truly understood.
Thank you very much for the conversation, Vincent.