5 Keys to Delivering a Stellar Customer Experience Online Jonathan Herrick The other night I went out to dinner (at a restaurant that shall remain nameless) and was totally underwhelmed by my customer experience. Crabby waitress, poor service and the food was, well ….meh. Not to mention the menu had about 8 million options and I had no clear idea of what they were good at or what I should order — analysis paralysis set in.Chances are I won’t be returning to that restaurant anytime soon. I’m sure you can relate — after all, who hasn’t had a bad customer experience?Today, a positive or negative customer experience (CX) is the make or break factor for your small business success. Especially in this hyper-connected era of online reviews and automated customer service.Consumers have access to a plethora of information online and more choices than ever. And they are impatient. They want what they want when they want it. Whether you are working in the B2C or B2B marketing world, your potential customers are busy and have short attention spans (shorter than the attention span of a goldfish, remember?). The online world can be a distracting, chaotic place. Not only do you have to gain your readers’ and website visitors’ attention, you have to keep it. You have to deepen it. You have to reward it. You have to build momentum that leads visitors to become buyers.Succeed at delivering a great customer experience, and you will reap the rewards. Fail and your business will suffer. So how do you deliver a great CX? Write Right“No one cares about your product except you” David Meerman Scott – Author, The New Rules of Marketing And PRYour online visitors aren’t spending time on your site because they care about your awesome products and your wonderful company, per se. They care about their needs and wants. They are on your site because they have a problem they want to solve or a goal that’s important to them, and they are sincerely hoping you can help.With an understanding of this mindset, focus your content, especially the first impression elements such as headlines and descriptions of your product or company, on what your readers need. Address their problems in empathetic terms and go on to explain how you can help them overcome those problems. Only talk about yourself after you have addressed their objections to “prove” you can backup your claims.A great example of this is customer service software provider Helpscout. Instead of listing off the features of their product, the content on their homepage is directed at delivering a more humanized experience to their customers to make sure it’s one that they will remember: By tailoring your online copy to your ideal buyers pain points, you’ll improve the chances that visitors stay on your site and ultimately make it to the customer side of the fence.Another key to nailing the customer experience is to make content digestible and discoverable on your website. So if you’re creating a blog post, instructional guide or resource, stay away from buzzwords and jargon. Focus on establishing a friendly, conversational tone. Gear your content toward topics that truly resonate with your audience.Video hosting provider Wistia does an awesome job at this. While their core business is video hosting, they focus on giving their readers valuable content designed to help them make better videos. One of their recent blog posts gives a straightforward, helpful review of the Canon 5D Mark IV video features. But beyond just a review, their team took the time to put together a friendly, approachable video with their feedback on the new gear. Not only does it help educate their audience but it gives their online visitors a reason to engage with them no matter where they are in the buying process. Gain Instant FeedbackIn order to deliver a remarkable experience to your customers online, you need to put the right tools in place to gain important feedback. Simple tools like surveys and website heat maps such as Crazy Egg can show you the actions your online visitors are taking and what where they are engaging with most. It allows you to make real-time changes to better align your site, landing pages and content with their needs. By seeing where they are clicking, scrolling, and converting, you can craft an online experience that directly matches their behavior and delivers more of what they’re looking for.Another great way to create an effective customer experience online is through the use of live chat tools. In fact studies show that customers prefer live chat over other methods of support. Did you know that live chat has the highest satisfaction levels of any customer service channel, with 73%, compared to just 44% for phone? With online chat, your customers and prospects can get their burning questions answered more quickly–reducing the chance they will bounce and helping to move them further down the sales path.Sell as a ServiceOften the first impression that buyers experience of companies online is rooted in their sales experience. Why? Because it’s a foreshadowing of the business’s culture, values and their ability to keep promises after the sale is made. Don’t believe me? Just think back to the last time you checked into a hotel. Did a positive or negative experience at the front desk set the tone for your stay? Chances are it did.So don’t look at selling as a “necessary evil.” Look at it as something you do for your prospects and customers to serve them. Provide them with the information and the online resources they need to make the most informed decision possible. The truth is sales, done right, is a service. If you have a product that solves a problem your prospect is experiencing, doesn’t it make sense to offer it to him? Of course it does. Don’t be afraid to ask your online visitors to take the next step. Make sure the calls to action on your website, landing pages and in social posts are simple and clear and let them know where you want them to click. If you are selling your products online, explain what customers will receive with their purchase and how you will support their buying decision. If you are offering a demonstration of your product, be clear about what the next step of the sales process entails.Above all else: follow up. One of the easiest ways to show future customers the love is to reach out to them in a timely fashion. The speed of your follow-up can mean the difference between a sale or a lead going cold. A speedy response will help you convert more customers and make your customers feel confident about your business’s ability to deliver a great experience. Be SocialSocial is no longer just a channel to market your business and sell your wares. It has become an invaluable platform to engage your customers and deliver a remarkable online experience. Conversations on social media platforms are happening every second of every day and if you aren’t taking advantage of social as a part of your online customer strategy, you’re getting left behind.There are a few keys to delivering a great CX on social. First, be responsive. The expectation has been set that when someone reaches out you or posts a comment about your business, they want to be acknowledged and heard as quickly as possible. Leaving unanswered posts destroys your brand’s credibility and tells the online community that your customers aren’t important:Image Source: www.conversocial.com Next, be human. If at all possible avoid canned responses. Take the time to address your social followers and fans in a one-to-one fashion. When a customer runs into a snag, don’t hide it, embrace it. Reach out to them and let them know you hear them and are working on a solution. Finally, listen to what your social audience is saying. Chances are there is connection to what they are talking about and sharing and what is most important to them. Use tools like Buffer and Buzzsumo to stay on top of analytics and trends. With valuable social data about your buyers, you’ll be in better position to shape your products, services and online content for your current and future customers. Go OfflineFocus on delivering a superb customer experience whether online or offline. Make an effort to do the little things your customers will appreciate (and will remember down the road). Here’s an old school idea: when someone makes a purchase online, send them a handwritten thank you note. This simple gesture will grab their attention, and they will love it!If you see that a valued customer is celebrating a wedding or an important life event such as having a baby, go out of your way to let them know you care: Thoughtful offline actions like this, and stellar post-sale service will help you ensure that your customers have a remarkable online experience and build brand loyalty beyond measures. The importance of a memorable customer experience cannot be reiterated enough. It will be the differentiating factor in a buying decision and the deciding factor in customer lifetime value so be sure to make it worthwhile.