Consumers are increasingly expecting brands to meet their needs, explaining why 88% of shoppers think the experience a brand provides is just as important as the actual product.
But if meeting customer expectations on top of managing other business aspects feels like an impossible task, we’re here to tell you that it’s not. With strategy and the right tools, delivering a top-notch branded customer experience that positively influences the online customer relationship is possible.
What is a Branded Customer Experience, And Why Is It Important?
A successful branded customer experience is like a well-crafted symphony.
Think of each musician’s fine-tuned instrument as different customer touchpoints. The conductor (your brand) directs the musicians to create a harmonious and memorable experience for the audience (your customers).
Leaving a positive lasting impression on the audience requires careful planning, scrupulous attention to detail, and a commitment to creating a cohesive and unforgettable experience.
Now translate this to branded customer experiences in B2B and B2C ecommerce.
Brand experience (also known as BX) refers to the overall perception that customers have of a brand. It encompasses everything that customers think, feel, and experience when they interact with a company, including its products or services, marketing messages, visual identity, customer service, and more.
Customer experience, or CX, refers to the actual interactions that customers have with a brand across all touchpoints. It includes the entire customer journey, from the initial awareness stage to post-purchase.
These two building blocks are the foundation for providing a branded customer experience. When done right, your company can build trust with customers, increase customer satisfaction and retention, and drive word-of-mouth referrals along with sales and revenue.
5 Ways to Create a Branded Customer Experience Online
Let’s explore some of the most effective ways to deliver a harmonious branded customer experience.
Create consistency in your processes
Creating consistency is about backing up the promises your brand makes. For example, if you guarantee fast and reliable shipping, you need to ensure that orders are shipped quickly and accurately every time.
Consistency also helps you stand out in a sea of competition. When customers have a positive branded customer experience, they’re more likely to remember it and spread the word. Customer loyalty and word-of-mouth referrals are powerful drivers of growth and lend trust to your business.
Plus, delivering a consistent experience across all touchpoints helps to reinforce a brand’s identity and messaging and create a positive emotional connection. Friction can arise when shoppers are faced with conflicting, convoluted messages from various brand interactions.
Use your customer journey map to create branded experiences
This visualization of customer interactions can offer insight into brand alignment and strategy and help identify existing gaps across the timeline of customer touchpoints.
It can also bring journey disconnects to light. For instance, if your ecommerce brand boasts simplicity, forcing your customers to go through an arduous account creation process before completing a purchase cancels that sentiment.
In this case, offering shoppers a “Check out as guest” option rather than forcing account creation is a way to fulfill that brand promise of simplicity.
After all, customer expectations are prompted by specific brand values. It’s one thing to leverage useful content and targeted awareness campaigns to drive shoppers to ecommerce sites. But when customers are met with a shopping experience that doesn’t align with preconceived values, you’re failing to deliver a very basic branded customer experience.
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Use clickstream data to personalize the on-site shopping experience
Ecommerce brands have a wealth of first-party information to access about their customers, thanks to clickstream data. This digital trail of customer activity offers valuable insights about shopper-specific behaviors, preferences, and interests, propping open a pivotal door for delivering a branded and personalized customer experience online.
With clickstream data from on-site activity, AI-driven product discovery platforms can personalize results in real-time based on individual customer interests and preferences, returning products that are most attractive to the customer and likely to lead to conversion.
For instance, a customer who clicks on high-end products will be shown similar luxury items across the site — when searching, browsing, checking out curated collections, etc. If a different customer clicks on or searches for running shoes on your site, other running-related products such as workout gear or accessories may begin to appear in strategically placed recommendation pods.
This 1:1 personalization not only enhances all shopping experiences, but also increases the chance of future purchases and brand loyalty.
In fact, one of the best ways to drive customer retention is through a personalized shopping experience. More than half of surveyed consumers claim they’ll be repeat customers after a personalized experience.
Lean into the use of transformers and large language models (LLMs)
When combined with clickstream data, transformers (or the “T” in ChatGPT) and large language models (LLMs) are the future of personalizing the ecommerce customer experience thanks to their ability to better understand context and meaning.
For example, imagine someone searches for “couch not blue” on a furniture retailer store like Serena & Lily. Internal site search engines strictly powered by vector search would still return blue couches. But those powered by transformers would return more accurate results, automatically filtering down non-attractive products without any intervention on behalf of the shopper.
While this cutting-edge technology is promising in terms of potential revenue lifts and improved customer experience, more experimentation is needed to solidify its early A/B test findings.
In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about how AI and machine learning (ML) are positioned to help companies in our future transformer-powered product discovery landscape, check out The Art & Science of Searchandising.
Leverage data and customer insights
When it comes to creating branded customer experiences, it’s not enough to “set it and forget it.” It requires a continuous cycle of planning, testing, and analyzing results. And brands that remain agile will be better poised to quickly respond to customer needs and feedback, thus nurturing customer satisfaction.
Regularly aligning with customer-facing teams and gathering feedback directly from customers allows for the experience to be altered exactly how customers prefer.
Collecting zero-party data is one way to do this.
Zero-party data is data that customers intentionally share with a brand in exchange for a better experience. It can be collected when a customer takes an action — like completing a poll or quiz or signing up for a loyalty program.
It can provide some of the most detailed, personalized information from online shoppers, making it a powerful tool for building relationships with them. And since there’s no requirement for personally identifiable information, customers are more likely to complete it.
We know collecting and analyzing data can be labor-intensive, which is why investing in the right tools that can do the heavy lifting for you is key to creating an iterative and agile process.
Branded Customer Experiences Make An Impact
Conducting business on an enterprise level isn’t an easy task, and creating a beautiful brand symphony takes even more measured effort.
But when every element of your ecommerce business gels to deliver a stand-out branded customer experience, you can create a powerful emotional connection with customers.
The resulting brand trust and credibility, market differentiation, and customer retention lead to a healthy bottom line. And we think that’s well worth the effort.
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