“Customer experience encompasses every aspect of a company’s offering—the quality of customer care, of course, but also advertising, packaging, product and service features, ease of use, and reliability” (Meyer & Schwager, 2007). There are eight elements defined by Rose and Hair that marketers are able to focus on when marketing their product online. These are:
1. Information processing
Information processing is essential for marketers to understand and therefore predict the behaviours and decisions of online consumers. Deval and Kardes (2010) identify different stages in consumer information processing: attention, comprehension, evaluation, memory and choice. It is important for marketers to guide customers through these steps even in a virtual online shop.
2. Perceived ease-of-use
Davis (1989) defines this as “the degree to which a person believes that using a particular system would be free from effort.” In other words, a simple and easy interface will be able to target customers more effectively than a cluttered and information-saturated website.
Compare Yale University’s School of Art’s website (left) to that of University of Canberra (right). It is evident that a website with clear navigations and bold texts is much easier to navigate than a website that has conflicting colours, small and unclear navigation tabs and is overall confusing to look at.
3. Perceived usefulness
This is the level of usefulness a consumer that is browsing online will view a certain advertisement or online retail store. Marketers will often use targeted advertisements to hone in on people that are more likely to accept their offer or product. Targeted consumers will then be more likely to click into the advertisement than a non-targeted consumer.
For example, Omnicharge placed a FaceBook advertisement on my Newfeed. I would be in their target market considering my young age and my interest in technology. A simple picture with easily understandable features are displayed in order to get across the message: this product is useful and suitable for you!
4. Perceived Benefits
Perceived benefits is similar to that of perceived usefulness, in that a online marketer must utilise to present their products. The majority of consumers are unaware or complacent to the actual cost price for a certain product. In order, for instance, a marketer of a premium product must create a website that give the consumer the feeling of ‘premium’ or ‘high-class’ otherwise the perception of premium quality will not last.
A perfect example is Apple’s website. Since Apple is a well-known to be a brand that offers excellent quality phones and laptops at a premium price.
Apple’s website design matches the design of its products: It gives a high-class, refined feel and its minimalistic nature highlights the simple yet powerful nature of the iPhone.
5. Perceived Control
When a consumer believes that they have control in deciding between varying choices on a particular product. This perception of control gives the consumer more confidence in choosing something that was perhaps already chosen for them. This method has been employed time and time again by online marketers as a way to push consumers to make the choice based on their assessment of value.
Here, WordPress gives the consumer three options – personal, premium and business. However, the premium option is placed in the middle, has a highlighted upgrade button and has a banner that says ‘popular’. Several features are also shown in bold. Although customers have the perception of choice, most will choose the middle option. This is the embodiment of perceived control as customers are able to compare and contrast the different options and pick the ‘right’ option for them which most times comes down to the perception of value.
It refers to the customer’s ability to use the technology to achieve their desired goals (Klein and Ford, 2002). In this way, consumers are encourages to come back time and time again to give more chance for them to engage with the products on offer.
For instance, Codecademy.com is a website that teaches you how to write different types of code. There are achievement badges that encourage a use to come back and learn more of the same or different topic. Every time you come back, there is a “Welcome Back”and a progress bar to show where you’re at. Evidently, encouraging the user to come back to their website will make them more inclined to “Upgrade to Pro” for a monthly fee.
7. Trust and risk
Customer trust and risk is paramount in the success of an online business. Marketers need to employ several strategies that allow the customer to feel that it is a trustworthy website that has low risk in order to encourage the customer to buy.
For example, iiNet front page shows this:
The consumer is able to see that iiNet has won multiple awards for its service. Furthermore, it displays different customer reviews coming from a pool of people that have rated it 4.02/5 stars. The consumer will have more trust in the company’s services and products making them more willing to purchase.
This is the outcome that most marketers would want from the consumers that visit their website. Ultimately, the elements that are mentioned above should be mixed and matched in a way that makes the customer have an excellent online experience.
Deval, H & Kardes, FR 2010, Consumer Information Processing, viewed 24 August 2016, Wiley Online Library.
Investopedia, Perceived Value, viewed 24 August 2016, <http://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/perceived-value.asp>
Meyer, C & Schwager, A 2007, ‘Understanding Customer Experience’, Harvard Business Review, viewed 24 August 2016, <https://hbr.org/2007/02/understanding-customer-experience#>