How CX builds customer loyalty and lifetime value in e-commerce

As businesses move to new models of commerce, customer experience (CX) needs to keep pace. After all, new modes of commerce mean new potential to fall short of expectations. If your subscription business isn’t sending goods out on time, your customers will be unhappy. Equally, these new models present new opportunities to cultivate loyalty and grow your brand. So how can you make sure your CX keeps up? Here are some simple ways to delight customers, and ultimately increase lifetime value (LTV).

What consumers are saying

64%

of consumers say customer experience more important than price.

75%

of consumers believe it takes too long to reach a live agent.

74%

of people are likely to switch brands if they find the purchasing process too cumbersome.

Get proactive

Subscription-based models are becoming increasingly common. In fact, subscription businesses grew nearly six times faster than firms in the S&P 500 Index over the 2012-2020 period. Part of the appeal is the lack of effort on the customer’s part: All they need to do is pay a certain amount each month in exchange for a consistent service—and the payment is automated.

To enhance the customer experience and increase LTV, look for small, low-cost wins that don’t cut too far into your bottom line. For example, meal kit retailer Gousto occasionally includes treats—chocolate, a dessert, a side—in their boxes for free to surprise their customers. These are rare enough to improve the customer service without over-inflating the customer’s expectations, but frequent enough to enhance loyalty. Consider implementing a data platform that flags when customers have earned an unexpected gift, so you can make sure you’re rewarding the right people at the right times to maximize LTV.

Alter your agents’ mindset

In the modern CX landscape, it’s vital to empower your customer service agents. No customer wants to hear that an agent can’t meet a small request because they’d need approval from their manager. With this in mind, breed autonomy and independent thinking—and don’t tie your agents too closely to scripts. As part of this mindset change, you need to give your agents clear guidance on the lengths they’re allowed (and even encouraged) to go to in support of your customers. 

Training shouldn’t stop there, either. It’s crucial to involve agents in the process before and during any new service rollouts, so they’re prepared, empowered, and informed when customers have questions. The more involved they are in the development process, the better they can serve your customers.

 It’s equally important to sync your agents with marketing—making sure they’re fully aligned on any new campaigns or promotions, so they’re not caught off guard and they can iron out potential queries and concerns in advance.

Getting feedback from your customers (and acting on it) is essential to any great CX program. However, don’t forget about the treasure trove of knowledge your agents have. They are on the frontline of customer sentiment.

Be forward in asking for feedback

Getting feedback from your customers (and acting on it) is essential to any great CX program. However, don’t forget about the treasure trove of knowledge your agents have. They are on the frontline of customer sentiment. So it makes sense to get their take on how things are going—especially in the early days of new service models. What’s working? What are customers commenting on, good, or bad? And what aspects of the service do agents feel could improve and evolve? Is there anything that’s making it harder for them to help customers?  

Asking for this kind of feedback doesn’t just help you improve your products and services. It helps your agents feel respected, valued, and appreciated. This will improve your CX further, as happier agents are more likely to provide better service.

Account for wider events

At the time of writing, living costs are rising. The price of essential items like food, utilities, and fuel is biting hard for a lot of customers. As a result, many are looking to trim subscriptions to cut costs. Pay attention to these trends and make concessions for customers where you can.

For example, could you offer discounts on common purchases to long-term customers? Or introduce a delivery service that spares the customer from having to drive to you? Consistent and reliable service in times of uncertainty remains essential—but small gestures that come out of the blue or at the precise moment of need can elevate those experiences even further, and protect LTV even in difficult times.

The more things change …

Even as commerce evolves, the fundamentals of great customer service have not. Unexpected moments that make customers feel heard and valued can go a long way. Alignment between the front and back offices can dramatically enhance CX. And empathy regarding wider circumstances can create lasting bonds between customers and brands. It all adds up to better CX, happier customers, and ultimately higher LTV.