Creating a Consistent User Experience From Online to In-Person
Posted by drew on Feb. 23, 2015, 5 p.m.
If your business has a brick-and-mortar presence, it is likely that you spend a fair amount of time considering the customer experience in that location. Does the store look nice? Is it clean? Was it easy to find? Were the employees kind to the customers? A similar amount of thought should be put into the design and user experience of your website.
All too often, businesses neglect their websites in favor of their physical store locations--this is especially true if their website isn’t an ecommerce site that could directly bring them revenue. A paradigm shift needs to take place for these businesses, to allow them to consider the breadth of their user experience: one that extends from a computer to a mobile device to a store location.
In all three of these arenas (mobile, web, and in-person), your branding should remain consistent, and your user experience (UX) design should represent the highest level of quality. Neglecting even one of these aspects creates a potential for lost customers or unrealized new business.
Treat your users/customers with care, whether they are interacting with you online or in person. Here are some of the things to consider when looking at your full user experience:
1. Is everything consistent?
Do you use the same branding on your brochures as you do on your in-store signage or your mobile app? Do you have a responsive web design (i.e. tailored for mobile devices)? If you are running a promotion in your store, make sure that your website reflects the most current information. Using the same language across all member platforms establishes and fulfills the expectations of your users. Fulfilling expectations is a key part of good UX. Some expectations are pre-established in your users, but others are set up by you.
2. Is everything web-optimized?
Here’s where a lot of businesses drop the ball. You want your store to be easy to find for new potential customers, and the same should be true for your website. This involves website optimization with SEO in mind, and potentially other digital marketing efforts (like social media or paid advertising).
3. How complete are the service offerings?
A good rule of thumb is that users should be able to accomplish as many tasks in as many different places as possible. A website isn’t very useful to a member if it only tells them they need to visit a store to do business with you. Granted, some things will be handled better over the phone or in person, but your website and mobile app should still be full of features. You should also make it possible for users to start on a process on one platform and finish that process elsewhere. Mobile devices are often used to research and begin a process that will be completed in person or on a computer.
4. How well do you know your user?
Some businesses have very unique needs when it comes to their customer base. They might have a large number of youths or a high percentage of native Spanish speakers. Customizing the user experience to fit these needs is highly important. How easy is it for a Spanish-speaking user to find your website in Google or navigate to the Spanish pages? Does your design look dated and old-fashioned, or does it appeal to a younger audience? Things like this can send a message to your users that you don’t truly understand them or consider their needs.
Potential customers are shopping around online, no doubt looking at your competitors. If you don't take a customized and smart approach to your entire online experience, you run the risk of losing new business to companies who have a superior online presence and tools.