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[RESEARCH REPORT PREVIEW] Creating a Customer-First Web Experience

The essential people, processes and tools you need to deliver a great customer experience through your brand's website DOWNLOAD THE COMPLETE REPORT AT NO COST HERE: http://www2.prophet.com/creating-a-customer-first-web-experience

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By Omar Akhtar, Analyst
at Altimeter, a Prophet Company
May 8, 2017
CREATING A
CUSTOMER-FIRST
WEB EXPERIENCE
www.altimetergroup.com | @altimetergroup | info@altimetergroup.com
2
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Although customers now interact with brands across many channels and devices, the brand
website arguably has the biggest impact on the overall customer experience. This is because
the website, (with the exception of maybe the mobile app,) is the only digital channel that
can perform all three customer-facing functions of sales, service and marketing. It is also the
first place a customer might encounter a brand, either through a serendipitous Google search
result, or a targeted ad campaign. As a result, any brand that is hoping to compete on the
basis of customer-experience can’t afford to have a sub-standard web experience. And a sub-
standard web experience is one that is company-first, instead of customer-first.
In this report, we’ve identified the five characteristics of a customer-first web experience.
These defining features go beyond the usual elements of being mobile-optimized and visually
appealing, which by now, should be table-stakes for modern websites. The characteristics
we’ve identified meet the modern expectations of the digital customer experience. They
are a product of the right people, processes and technology, and most importantly the right
mindset. After all, a customer-first website can only be built by a customer-first company.
Reading this report will help you identify where your company can improve in its efforts to
design customer-centric web experiences, and the specific elements you need to make it
happen. By following the initiatives outlined in the report, your company will not only deliver a
great web experience, it will have set itself up for delivering the optimal customer experience
across all digital touchpoints.:
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction											3
Five Characteristics of A Customer First Website	 				 4
Key Elements for Building a Customer First Web Experience	 		 11
Essential People and Technology Platforms	 					 15
www.altimetergroup.com | @altimetergroup | info@altimetergroup.com
3
INTRODUCTION
In the digital age, our expectations of a brand’s website have changed. Once just a static
source of company information, the website is now a dynamic tool of customer engagement.
Although customers now interact with brands in a multi-channel, multi-device environment,
the company website arguably has the biggest impact on the digital customer experience.
Here’s why:
Search results lead to websites. While mobile apps and social media pages are increasingly
popular points of brand-customer interactions, the website is far more likely to be the first
point of contact. This is because the vast majority of internet navigation is people searching
for answers to questions, or solutions to problems. Since search engines are built to find
websites, it makes sense that they would be the first place a person interacts with a brand.
By effectively being responsible for the first impression of a brand, websites have an
outsized impact on customer experience.
Websites can perform all customer-facing tasks. With the exception of the mobile app,
the brand website is the only digital channel where every type of customer interaction can
take place. Whether it’s learning more about a product/brand, making a purchase, or getting
customer support, a customer can do it all without having to leave the company’s website.
That’s why sales, service and marketing departments all have a stake in providing the best
possible web experience. In fact, it’s difficult to imagine a customer journey that doesn’t in
some way involve a visit to the company website, making it a crucial part of the customer
experience.
Websites are the home of content. A great customer experience is the result of a brand
being able to provide the customer with the right content, at the right time, and on the right
channel. To do this, companies could give each digital channel its own set of stored content,
but it’s far more efficient to have all the content in a central location (i.e. the website) to be
distributed on different channels as needed. For example, a brand could separately upload
a how-to video for one of its products on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, or it could simply
upload it once to its website and distribute the link on different channels. In this way, not
only is it easier to publish and distribute content at scale, it provides a central view of how
the content is performing. Given how content can be used to optimize customer interactions
at every touchpoint, the place where it is stored, i.e. the website becomes the core of the
customer experience.
www.altimetergroup.com | @altimetergroup | info@altimetergroup.com
4
FIVE CHARACTERISTICS OF A
“CUSTOMER-FIRST” WEBSITE
Given the outsize role websites play in shaping the customer experience, brands competing in
the digital age can’t afford to build sub-par web experiences. And a sub-par web experience is
one that is company-first, instead of customer-first.
Most brands don’t set out to build a company-first web experience, yet they end up there by
following the old norms of web design and putting business objectives before customer needs.
To build a truly customer-first website, companies must transform the way they design web
experiences in the following five ways.
FIGURE 4: Key Differences Between a Company-First and a Customer-First Website
The content is organized by department
or product category
The content is generic, and not always
relevant to the visitor’s specific reason
for visiting
The brand message and visual
representation varies across
departments, sections and devices
Navigation is designed to be linear, not
omni-directional, with too many clicks to
access information.
The web-copy is jargon-filled, overly
promotional and not reflective of
the customer
The content is organized by questions the
visitor is trying to answer or problems they
are trying to solve
The content is personalized for each visitor,
or category of visitor by different factors,
including location, past behavior, or
entry point.
The brand message and visual
representation is consistent across all
pages and devices
Navigation is designed to be intuitive
and with minimal movement between
pages and sections.
The web-copy is concise, easy to
understand, and reflects the language
used by the customer, not the company.
Company First Website Customer First Website
Presentation
Relevance
Brand
Experience
Navigation
Copy
/Language
1
2
3
4
5
www.altimetergroup.com | @altimetergroup | info@altimetergroup.com
5
PRESENTATION:
Focus on Solutions, not Products
The majority of websites today are built to showcase the company and its products/services.
This makes sense from a business point of view. You want to be able to convince a site visitor
that your company has the product they are looking for, or entice them to buy a product simply
by displaying it in the most attractive way. However, this assumes that customers interact with
websites the same way they interact with brick-and-mortar stores, which is “see product, buy
product.” But in the digital world, customers aren’t always visiting a website to buy a product.
They are however, always looking for a solution to a problem.
A solution-focused website anticipates the problem each visitor is trying to solve when
they come to website and serves them the relevant content. By displaying their products or
company information first, companies are making their customers do the extra work of finding
the solution, rather than anticipating their unique needs and recommending a solution to
them.
For example, when the City of Boston redesigned its homepage, it went from a layout that
grouped content by departments to one that organized content by themes or problems
people were trying to solve. These themes were based on questions people were trying to
answer, such as “Visiting Boston,” “Trash and Recycling” and “Getting Around in Boston.”
Each theme had its own page which pulled in content from different departments in a way that
provided all the information in one place.
In this way, the site brought the relevant information to the people, rather than making them
work to get it. “There’s a big difference between making something available, and making
something accessible,” said City of Boston’s Chief Digital Officer Lauren Lockwood, who led
the team that redesigned the site.“Our key was that if someone is searching for a topic, they
need to land on one page that has everything they need on it, rather than go searching across
the website for different bits of info.”
www.altimetergroup.com | @altimetergroup | info@altimetergroup.com
6
RELEVANCE:
Content is Personalized,
not Generic
Customers now expect to be recognized as individuals when they go to websites they’ve
visited before. Personalization plays a big part in the digital customer experience. In fact, 74%
of consumers will get frustrated and leave a website if they feel the content (ads, promotions,
articles) are not relevant to their interests. They expect at least some level of personalized
content that makes them feel like the company is catering to their specific needs. Examples of
effective personalization include changing background images to more closely match the profile
of the site visitor, or the website popping up personalized offers or deals depending on the
products you are browsing. The simplest form of personalization is content that is specific to a
geography, and in its most sophisticated form, site visitors see content based on their individual
behaviors, rather than what they look like (demographic information) or where they are located.
Burton, a London-based menswear retailer adopted a strategy of showing different products
on its homepage based on the local weather being experienced by the site visitor. It dedicated
a single tile on the webpage to rotate between three different images, each one related to
the local weather the visitor was experiencing. The images were a graphic of showing the
temperature and weather conditions, an image of the recommended product, and an image
of a model wearing the recommended product. For example, if the visitor’s location was
experiencing snow, Burton would show peacoats or Christmas sweaters. If it was rainy, visitors
would see jackets and rainboots. As a result, the company saw 11.6% uplift in conversions
across all users.
Although personalization has its advantages, it won’t work without transparency. Consumers
will tolerate their data being used to serve them personalized offers as long as the value they
get in return far exceeds the value of what they give up. And, the company must explain just
exactly what data they are using and how. More than 60% of consumers want to know why,
what, and how websites select content personalized for them.

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[RESEARCH REPORT PREVIEW] Creating a Customer-First Web Experience

  • 1. By Omar Akhtar, Analyst at Altimeter, a Prophet Company May 8, 2017 CREATING A CUSTOMER-FIRST WEB EXPERIENCE
  • 2. www.altimetergroup.com | @altimetergroup | info@altimetergroup.com 2 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Although customers now interact with brands across many channels and devices, the brand website arguably has the biggest impact on the overall customer experience. This is because the website, (with the exception of maybe the mobile app,) is the only digital channel that can perform all three customer-facing functions of sales, service and marketing. It is also the first place a customer might encounter a brand, either through a serendipitous Google search result, or a targeted ad campaign. As a result, any brand that is hoping to compete on the basis of customer-experience can’t afford to have a sub-standard web experience. And a sub- standard web experience is one that is company-first, instead of customer-first. In this report, we’ve identified the five characteristics of a customer-first web experience. These defining features go beyond the usual elements of being mobile-optimized and visually appealing, which by now, should be table-stakes for modern websites. The characteristics we’ve identified meet the modern expectations of the digital customer experience. They are a product of the right people, processes and technology, and most importantly the right mindset. After all, a customer-first website can only be built by a customer-first company. Reading this report will help you identify where your company can improve in its efforts to design customer-centric web experiences, and the specific elements you need to make it happen. By following the initiatives outlined in the report, your company will not only deliver a great web experience, it will have set itself up for delivering the optimal customer experience across all digital touchpoints.: TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction 3 Five Characteristics of A Customer First Website 4 Key Elements for Building a Customer First Web Experience 11 Essential People and Technology Platforms 15
  • 3. www.altimetergroup.com | @altimetergroup | info@altimetergroup.com 3 INTRODUCTION In the digital age, our expectations of a brand’s website have changed. Once just a static source of company information, the website is now a dynamic tool of customer engagement. Although customers now interact with brands in a multi-channel, multi-device environment, the company website arguably has the biggest impact on the digital customer experience. Here’s why: Search results lead to websites. While mobile apps and social media pages are increasingly popular points of brand-customer interactions, the website is far more likely to be the first point of contact. This is because the vast majority of internet navigation is people searching for answers to questions, or solutions to problems. Since search engines are built to find websites, it makes sense that they would be the first place a person interacts with a brand. By effectively being responsible for the first impression of a brand, websites have an outsized impact on customer experience. Websites can perform all customer-facing tasks. With the exception of the mobile app, the brand website is the only digital channel where every type of customer interaction can take place. Whether it’s learning more about a product/brand, making a purchase, or getting customer support, a customer can do it all without having to leave the company’s website. That’s why sales, service and marketing departments all have a stake in providing the best possible web experience. In fact, it’s difficult to imagine a customer journey that doesn’t in some way involve a visit to the company website, making it a crucial part of the customer experience. Websites are the home of content. A great customer experience is the result of a brand being able to provide the customer with the right content, at the right time, and on the right channel. To do this, companies could give each digital channel its own set of stored content, but it’s far more efficient to have all the content in a central location (i.e. the website) to be distributed on different channels as needed. For example, a brand could separately upload a how-to video for one of its products on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, or it could simply upload it once to its website and distribute the link on different channels. In this way, not only is it easier to publish and distribute content at scale, it provides a central view of how the content is performing. Given how content can be used to optimize customer interactions at every touchpoint, the place where it is stored, i.e. the website becomes the core of the customer experience.
  • 4. www.altimetergroup.com | @altimetergroup | info@altimetergroup.com 4 FIVE CHARACTERISTICS OF A “CUSTOMER-FIRST” WEBSITE Given the outsize role websites play in shaping the customer experience, brands competing in the digital age can’t afford to build sub-par web experiences. And a sub-par web experience is one that is company-first, instead of customer-first. Most brands don’t set out to build a company-first web experience, yet they end up there by following the old norms of web design and putting business objectives before customer needs. To build a truly customer-first website, companies must transform the way they design web experiences in the following five ways. FIGURE 4: Key Differences Between a Company-First and a Customer-First Website The content is organized by department or product category The content is generic, and not always relevant to the visitor’s specific reason for visiting The brand message and visual representation varies across departments, sections and devices Navigation is designed to be linear, not omni-directional, with too many clicks to access information. The web-copy is jargon-filled, overly promotional and not reflective of the customer The content is organized by questions the visitor is trying to answer or problems they are trying to solve The content is personalized for each visitor, or category of visitor by different factors, including location, past behavior, or entry point. The brand message and visual representation is consistent across all pages and devices Navigation is designed to be intuitive and with minimal movement between pages and sections. The web-copy is concise, easy to understand, and reflects the language used by the customer, not the company. Company First Website Customer First Website Presentation Relevance Brand Experience Navigation Copy /Language 1 2 3 4 5
  • 5. www.altimetergroup.com | @altimetergroup | info@altimetergroup.com 5 PRESENTATION: Focus on Solutions, not Products The majority of websites today are built to showcase the company and its products/services. This makes sense from a business point of view. You want to be able to convince a site visitor that your company has the product they are looking for, or entice them to buy a product simply by displaying it in the most attractive way. However, this assumes that customers interact with websites the same way they interact with brick-and-mortar stores, which is “see product, buy product.” But in the digital world, customers aren’t always visiting a website to buy a product. They are however, always looking for a solution to a problem. A solution-focused website anticipates the problem each visitor is trying to solve when they come to website and serves them the relevant content. By displaying their products or company information first, companies are making their customers do the extra work of finding the solution, rather than anticipating their unique needs and recommending a solution to them. For example, when the City of Boston redesigned its homepage, it went from a layout that grouped content by departments to one that organized content by themes or problems people were trying to solve. These themes were based on questions people were trying to answer, such as “Visiting Boston,” “Trash and Recycling” and “Getting Around in Boston.” Each theme had its own page which pulled in content from different departments in a way that provided all the information in one place. In this way, the site brought the relevant information to the people, rather than making them work to get it. “There’s a big difference between making something available, and making something accessible,” said City of Boston’s Chief Digital Officer Lauren Lockwood, who led the team that redesigned the site.“Our key was that if someone is searching for a topic, they need to land on one page that has everything they need on it, rather than go searching across the website for different bits of info.”
  • 6. www.altimetergroup.com | @altimetergroup | info@altimetergroup.com 6 RELEVANCE: Content is Personalized, not Generic Customers now expect to be recognized as individuals when they go to websites they’ve visited before. Personalization plays a big part in the digital customer experience. In fact, 74% of consumers will get frustrated and leave a website if they feel the content (ads, promotions, articles) are not relevant to their interests. They expect at least some level of personalized content that makes them feel like the company is catering to their specific needs. Examples of effective personalization include changing background images to more closely match the profile of the site visitor, or the website popping up personalized offers or deals depending on the products you are browsing. The simplest form of personalization is content that is specific to a geography, and in its most sophisticated form, site visitors see content based on their individual behaviors, rather than what they look like (demographic information) or where they are located. Burton, a London-based menswear retailer adopted a strategy of showing different products on its homepage based on the local weather being experienced by the site visitor. It dedicated a single tile on the webpage to rotate between three different images, each one related to the local weather the visitor was experiencing. The images were a graphic of showing the temperature and weather conditions, an image of the recommended product, and an image of a model wearing the recommended product. For example, if the visitor’s location was experiencing snow, Burton would show peacoats or Christmas sweaters. If it was rainy, visitors would see jackets and rainboots. As a result, the company saw 11.6% uplift in conversions across all users. Although personalization has its advantages, it won’t work without transparency. Consumers will tolerate their data being used to serve them personalized offers as long as the value they get in return far exceeds the value of what they give up. And, the company must explain just exactly what data they are using and how. More than 60% of consumers want to know why, what, and how websites select content personalized for them.
  • 7. www.altimetergroup.com | @altimetergroup | info@altimetergroup.com 7 CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE COMPLETE REPORT” http://www2.prophet.com/creating-a-customer-first-web-experience