Redefining An Integrated Customer Experience for 2020

In a short period of time, COVID-19 has disrupted business as we knew it. While it’s true that businesses need to focus on the bottom line now, that doesn’t mean creating a great customer experience should be an afterthought for your growing eCommerce business.

Today, customers shop online more than ever but they are nervous and worried about the availability of products and being able to rely upon retailers for support. It’s for this reason that a strong, predictable, and reliable customer experience is so vital in times of crisis.

But how exactly do you redefine and improve the customer experience in your eCommerce store with so much instability in 2020? Here are two ways to create an integrated customer experience:

      1. Redefine your business’ customer experience
      2. Tie your back-end applications together through data integration

Redefine your business’ customer experience

Customer experience in 2020 and beyond is about one thing: empathetic engagement. Today, consumers are nervous: they’re worried about product availability and want support in their customer journey. Brands have already stepped up to reimagine the customer experience they offer by reducing missed opportunities such as delayed or lost packages, incorrect stock figures, and unhelpful error messages, and more.

In fact, research has shown that the biggest impact COVID-19 has had is on consumer confidence. Once consumer confidence is eroded, it affects product demand. This recent study also reveals that 84% of shoppers expect proactive and transparent communication about delayed or canceled orders due to COVID-19, and 70% want an extended returns window to accommodate potential delayed delivery.

Providing an end-to-end customer experience

Whether your business has been impacted by COVID-19 and/or an unexpected increase in online sales, it’s important you don’t lose sight of providing an end-to-end customer experience that promotes consumer confidence.

With this in mind, as your eCommerce business grows and customer preferences evolve no matter what the global circumstances are, creating an effective customer experience is likely to become more complex over time.  Certain systems and solutions may not fit your business’ needs as well as they did before, forcing you to use workarounds or adopting solutions that are minimally effective for your complex needs. Your applications themselves might not have the functionality to handle demand, negatively impacting the customer experience.

Brands can effectively capitalize on the new complexity in their ecosystem by carefully evaluating their strategy, solutions, and service providers in order to create the best possible customer experience for eCommerce.

A quick way to evaluate the effectiveness of your customer experience

An old trick that VL OMNI uses to help our customers evaluate the effectiveness of their customer experience starts with the elements that inform it — their team, their applications, and their data.

You can do this quick experiment with your team today.

All you need is:

  1. A ball of yarn or string (or a similar object)
  2. The people in your business involved in processing your online orders

Here’s how the experiment works:

Have everyone who touches any particular order get together — through either a virtual call or physically in your offices if it is possible. Have the first person who ‘touches’ an order (for example, the person who opens the order details email coming from your eCommerce platform like Shopify Plus, for example) hold the ball of yarn.

This first person then starts by passing the ball of yarn to the next person who touches that order, and the experiment continues as your team passes around the ball of yarn until the ‘order’ is complete.

Interpreting Your Experiment’s Results

There are really two types of results:

  • Less than 3 people touching the order? Your eCommerce business is delivering truly great customer experience.

Brands who lead their business growth with strategy over simply implementing tools and patches have the ability to create a more personalized and seamless customer experience. If your business fits into this category, this means you have adopted agile innovation and solutions to enhance your customer experience and consistently build customer trust.

  • If you have more than 3 people ‘touching an order’ in this experiment, your customer experience needs some improvement.

There are many potential loopholes in your fulfillment process that need to be reassessed if that is the case. While you think you may have saved money by employing inexpensive but easily installed solutions (like a basic point-to-point integration app), you are likely losing money in time wasted and potential human error though all the people interacting with any single order.

Luckily, you have the ability to improve your customer experience at any point. It all starts with defining a strategy that encompasses all your systems and applications that play a key role in your fulfillment process. Hint: Adopting data integration as part of your strategy.

What You Can Do Next

The yarn experiment is the first step to identify how you can improve (and perhaps drastically improve) your customer experience. Once you’ve come to terms that there are efficiencies to be had, you should turn a critical eye on your applications and current customer experience strategy, starting with the smallest unit of value your business has: your data.

Think about how consumer data currently moves in your business. This includes the time and labour invested in fulfilling an order. Now, think about any potential challenges that your business might encounter such as data errors, delayed shipment, and even lost packages. Finally, look at how core applications move data between them.

Adopting agile innovation

As you move into improving your customer experience from a data and applications-oriented perspective, strongly consider how to tie it all together to enhance your technology capabilities. This can be done through agile and scalable data integration.

It’s often wise to consult with an expert. Point-to-multipoint data integration iPaaS service providers like VL OMNI approach complex problems like customer experience from a data and API-centric perspective. Our platform works with all types of applications and moves data in near real-time throughout the supply chain.

If customer experience is a problem now, you’re likely to adopt the first quick-fix solution that appears to fit your needs. While it might solve the issue short-term, these solutions often cause more problems down the road. The sooner your business starts building agility across back-end systems and operations to create a great customer experience, the more long-lasting benefits your business will have.

Start with an integration strategy in mind!

Providing an exceptional eCommerce customer experience involves creating meaningful events for customers which in turn, translate into increased brand loyalty. Start your integration journey with VL OMNI to redefine your business’ customer experience today. Learn how we can help transform your business operations into the efficient and smoothing running business you know you can be. It all begins with leveraging the right integration platform.

With over 26+ years of integration experience, we have worked with systems that required point-to-multipoint workflows, providing Merchants with the next level of integrations to grow their business. Rely on us to help you integrate various applications and build a strategy that lines up with your business needs.