More than three decades after the internet became open to commercial use in 1991, e-commerce is still gaining steam. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 2017 was the industry's strongest year since 2011, representing 13 percent of total U.S. retail sales and 49 percent of overall growth.
Despite Amazon's undoubtable contributions, e-commerce competition is fierce among all of its segments. The customer experience, while always an essential ingredient in retail success, is becoming non-negotiable for online brands looking to retain their existing customers and win new ones.
So, are your customers happy? Here's how to find out:
Keeping Customer Happiness Straightforward
When it comes to analyzing the actual state of your customers' feelings toward your brand, you can go down a rabbit hole. There are dozens of advanced customer service metrics that help you track both how your customer feels about your brand and how well your customer care team is servicing them. But you don't need to overcomplicate things from the onset. The three most pivotal metrics you should be tracking: are Customer Effort Score, Customer Satisfaction, and Net Promoter Score.
Customer Effort Score (CES)
According to HubSpot, the customer effort score measures the ease of a customer's experience with a company. It's natural to want to impress patrons to win their long-term business, but with a market like e-commerce built on consumer convenience, CES can tell you if you're making them pull their hair out or simplifying their online shopping experience. Research shows74 percent of shoppers are likely to switch brands if they find the purchasing process too complicated. Gauging CES is hugely important; because when a customer leaves after a bad experience, you're not just missing out on that sale, but potentially, a lifetime of purchases. It's hard to scale an online business without winning a fair share of customers with lifetime value (CLV).
The best time to conduct a CES survey is immediately following a specific experience a user had, such as communicating via email with a customer service agent or searching a product's reviews for additional information.
Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
CSAT is a broad metric to gauge customers' satisfaction with your product or service, asked on a rating scale of one to five, with one being very unsatisfied and five being very satisfied. Customer satisfaction can include multiple questions but the fewer questions you ask, the betterthe chances your customers will respond. Like customer effort score surveys, customer satisfaction feedback should be asked immediately after an event.
However, be aware that overall CSAT will be skewed toward the middle, which isn't really what you're after. Per Quantric, here's a formula for calculating CSAT:
(Number of satisfied customers (4 and 5) / Number of survey responses) x 100 = % of satisfied customers
But don't just pay attention to the satisfied; staying abreast of the negative scores you received (especially if they provide additional feedback in a text box) can help you improve less common but immensely important kinks in your process that could cause other customers to churn.
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
Net Promoter Score aims to gauge the loyalty between a customer and a business. Find your NPS by asking questions like, “How likely are you to recommend this product to a friend or colleague?” Use a 10-point scale and group customers into one of three categories based on their response: Promoters , Passives, and Detractors.
Promoters (9–10): These are the people you can leverage to spread your brand awareness and grow your customer base.
Passives (7–8): These people are on the fence; they might like you a lot, but they're not compelled to shout your name from the rooftop just yet. Passives are a key group to try and swap into promoters and up your referral potential.
Detractors (0-6): This base is actively unhappy with your brand. It's essential to remedy whatever the cause for their discontent is before they spread their dissatisfaction among everyone they know. Ponder that Americans will tell an average of 15 people about a poor customer service experience, versus just 11 for a good one. Leaving this customer segment alone will hinder growth efforts.
In contrast to CES and CSAT, NPS should be sent at regular intervals. The interval should depend on how many customers you have. If you have a large customer base, it might make more sense to send a new NPS survey every month. If you're a smaller brand, six months may make more sense.
Here's how to calculate your NPS, per SurveyMonkey:
(Number of Promoters — Number of Detractors) / (Number of Respondents) x 100
NPS is an insightful metric because it provides a long-term view of how your customers feel about your brand. However, because it's sent out at intervals and doesn't follow any specific experience, the takeaways can be broader and less actionable.
Final Word: Automate the Process
Reaching out to customers with a simple question isn't complicated. But the process will quickly get confusing and tedious if you don't automate it. If you opted for a hosted platform when deciding how to make an e-commerce site, chances are your platform offers—or integrates—with more than a few options.
Here's a handy comparison guide from Capterra to get you started with choosing the email automation tool that aligns with your needs.
It's also worthwhile to mention that while one of these metrics might be of more interest to your business than the rest, taking your customers' pulses on each will give you the most well-rounded glimpse into the state of your followers. But don't take averages or means for the whole picture. You want to know what's working and what's not working. By addressing the latter and continuing to base other efforts off your brand's strongest qualities, you should see improved engagement, less customer churn, and hopefully, more lifetime value customers to grow your brand.
Now that you have these three essential metrics to work off, address that elephant in the room by finding out: are your customers happy?