- Customer Retention
Using Referrals to Increase Customer Lifetime Value
Sadie Goodwin | Oct 25, 2023
Apr 4, 2023
Director of Marketing
As ecommerce merchants and Shopify brands continue to navigate shifting consumer preferences and an increasingly competitive online landscape, providing a positive and memorable customer experience (CX) has never been more essential to success. But what exactly does CX encompass, and what specific benefits can your brand expect from optimizing CX across various steps in the customer journey?
In this blog, we’ll offer a clear, straightforward definition of CX, including how it differs from customer service (CS). Additionally, we’ll explore a few key benefits of an optimized CX and why providing excellent customer experiences should be a top priority for Shopify brands in 2023.
By definition, CX is the overall experience a customer has with a company or brand, including the journey of discovery, interaction, purchase, use, and support of a product or service. It includes all points of contact with a company, including websites, mobile apps, marketing, customer service, and more.
Let’s look at an example. When you visit your favorite apparel shop online the customer experience involves much more than your favorite fashion. Did you easily find the product you were searching for? How easily can you apply your loyalty points to a future purchase? If there was an issue with your order, was it promptly resolved? Did the brand reach back out asking for your feedback? Did they offer other ideas to complete your outfit? All of these factors and more comprise the customer experience.
Based on the sum of these interactions and touchpoints, a positive or negative perception is formed. And the truth is this perception can have a massive impact on critical factors related to your brand’s bottom line, including customer retention and revenue generation.
Understandably, CX can sometimes be confused with customer service (CS). However the difference between the two is actually fairly simple. Whereas CS refers to a single event in the buying process (i.e. a customer reaching out for support), CX is not limited to one specific process or interaction, and instead refers to all of the interactions that might take place throughout the entire customer journey.
And as Chelsea & Rachel Co Co-Founder, Rachel Saul, notes: “While customer service has expanded far beyond just replying to tickets and helping customers, it is a specific part of the buyer’s journey. On the other hand, customer experience is the all-encompassing journey that Shopify brands have the opportunity to influence for greater brand affinity.”
In other words, when we talk about CS today, we are typically referring only to how a brand’s support team reacts to and services customers in response to an individual request. And while this is certainly an important element that contributes to a customer’s overall perception of a brand, truly optimizing CX requires more than an accommodating and responsive support team.
On the surface, it seems only natural that a brand would want to ensure customers are satisfied, and to provide them with consistently positive experiences throughout the buying journey. However, the truth is that the benefits of a good CX aren’t at all exclusive to the customer, and in fact can be realized by the brand itself in a variety of ways.
Here are just a few notable benefits to keep in mind:
Improved loyalty and retention. The only thing more rewarding than acquiring a new customer is turning them into loyal shoppers. But improving loyalty and retention today can be challenging, especially when consumers have a limitless amount of resources that allow them to make more educated purchasing decisions. By providing consistently remarkable experiences from the very first customer touchpoint with your brand, you have a better chance of cultivating loyalty and growing your customer lifetime value.
Increased brand advocacy. Similarly, thanks to the prevalence of social media and the modern consumer’s increasingly digital-first mindset, businesses looking for effective brand advocates today should look no further than their own loyal customers. In fact, recent research from eMarketer reveals that up to 84% of customers would be happy to recommend a company after having an excellent experience. When you utilize the positive experiences of customers to spread the word about your brand, you have a far better chance of not only driving up sales, but also significantly reducing customer acquisition costs.
Improvements to your bottom line. Speaking of customer acquisition costs, studies have shown that acquiring a new customer can be up to five times more expensive than retaining an existing one. Fortunately, in addition to driving brand awareness, maintaining a consistently positive CX has also been shown to boost revenue and have a considerable impact on purchasing decisions. For example, according to Zippia, 74% of customers would be likely to buy a product based solely on having a positive experience. Moreover, brands that focus on CX have also been found to increase revenue by 80% on average, as well as being 60% more profitable than companies that don’t.
While ensuring positive CX has always been critical for businesses, the shifting attitudes, behaviors, and preferences of consumers today have made it more important than ever before. Put simply, the quality of the customer experience you deliver is increasingly likely to either make or break a customer’s relationship with your business. In fact, as many as 89% of consumers say they have switched to a competitor as a result of a poor experience at some point in their buying journey.
This is why so many businesses today are actively working to improve customer experiences. According to research from McKinsey, optimizing CX is now the fastest-growing priority area for customer care leaders, and this focus has increased by nearly 20% from 2019 to 2022.
It’s also critical to remember that customers are likely to be far less forgiving of poor experiences given the current economic climate. In addition to seeking increasingly efficient, personalized shopping experiences, recent trends confirm that consumers today are simply spending less to combat ongoing economic uncertainty and hardship. In a 2023 survey of global Shopify Plus merchants, 35% of respondents reported a reduction in average cart sizes, while 50% reported a reduction in site traffic as well as overall conversion rates.
As Chelsea Jones, Saul’s counterpart and Co-Founder of Chelsea & Rachel Co, says “People don’t always remember what you say, but they remember how they felt and CX is all about solving problems for people and creating positive feelings and solutions with a brand as a focal point.”
In short, as consumers continue to adjust to the wavering economy, smart brands will need to focus on optimizing experiences to improve customer lifetime value (CLTV), and most importantly to reinforce the strong relationships they’ve built with their customers.
But what does a good CX look like in practice? In our next blog, we’ll explore how to define and monitor an effective customer experience program, highlighting methods such as personalization and the creation of a seamless and intuitive end-to-end buying experience.
To learn even more about all aspects of customer experience, including how your brand can optimize CX at all steps in the customer journey, download Okendo’s recently published ebook here.
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