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Customer Experience Lessons for Retailers from the Holiday Season and Beyond

A Gift that Keeps Giving Throughout the New Year

Leverage High Holiday Volume for Success in the New Year The holiday season is a high-stakes adventure for retailers, with resources focused on keeping sites stable, sales moving, and earnings on track. With many e-commerce sites bringing in almost one fourth of their annual revenues in just a few short, hectic weeks, it’s no time for deep analysis or intense optimization.

It is the perfect time, however, to gather high-volume customer data that can yield strategic value throughout the next year.

Once the ornaments come down, retailers turn their focus to strategic planning. Now more than ever, plans must be based on metrics-based insights into how customer experiences drive conversions. Holiday shoppers are the ideal source for rich data about customer intent, behavior and activity on your site.

Make Great Customer Experience Your Unique Calling Card

How can you keep customers loyal and coming back to your site, when hundreds – maybe thousands – of retailers sell products just like yours online?

A great customer experience is the best way to make your site stand out from the crowd. Use insight gleaned from the holiday season to help you create it.

Carefully analyze data from your customers’ holiday shopping experiences. See what piques there interest, and what makes them drop out.  Look for opportunities to leverage and issues that must be addressed to make your site better and more customer-centric than ever. And start your next season from a position of strength.

Get to the Bottom of VoC Feedback

VoC feedback that covers malfunctions such as broken links and site malfunctions are quickly addressed, even during peak shopping times. But the truly critical feedback, of the “Worst X ever!” and “It was impossible to do Y on your site!” sort, is much harder to pin down – and much more important. These types of complaints are most likely to indicate significant issues that customers can’t put their fingers on, but which seriously degrade their overall experience.

How can you find out what leads to serious but non-specific VoC complaints which indicate powerful dissatisfaction with your customer experience at large?

Once holiday pressure is off, take some time to dig into the customer journeys that triggered hyper-frustrated feedback. Replay sessions that preceded the feedback. Create aggregate heatmaps for customers who left similar messages to reveal common underlying issues. Boost your return on the feedback you gather with powerful, sophisticated customer experience analyses that give you visibility into just what customers experienced that drove them away.

Understanding the Cross-Platform Journey

Improvements in the mobile e-commerce customer experience have triggered huge shifts in the customer journey. In an estimated 40% of all online purchases, customers use multiple devices to visit the same retailer before purchasing, with final purchases divided almost evenly across smartphones, desktops and tablets. This trend may be more pronounced during the holiday season, when customer time is at a premium.

If you follow visits only and not customers, too, you are likely to draw wrong conclusions about conversions. 28% of the time, customers make purchase decision on a different device than they use to complete the purchase.

How can you tell if a customer has abandoned your funnel, or has continued his conversion on another device? Once the busy holiday season is over, drill into your customer experience data to get insight into the role each platform plays in your customer journeys, and how the journey differs across customer segments. To help make the cross-platform journey seamless – and provide richest data — make sign-in a priority and consider adding a wish list and/or extending the time that shopping carts are retained.

Are Your Landing Pages Landing Business?

Leverage the data from your holiday promotions to learn more about creating effective landing pages.

Do lots of visitors click off your landing pages within seconds of when they arrive? These “hard bounces” may indicate technical problems with the page, or a glaring mismatch between the promotional message and the message conveyed on the page. Misleading promotions alienate customers and lead to poor response.

Users who linger on a landing page for more than a few seconds before clicking away are generally engaged to a significant extent. These “soft bounces”, indicate that the customer intended to follow up on the promotion but did not find what he or she wanted.

Retailers tend to see more landing page bounces overall during the holiday season. To increase the number of leads who enter your funnel, leverage these holiday bounces to optimize future landing pages, Heatmaps and session replays can help you analyze these bounces to pinpoint both technical and content-related landing page issues and steer away from them in the future.

Compare or Complement?

Once a product has piqued customers’ interest, what influences conversion success? Do they browse similar products on your site to find one they prefer? Or do they seek complementary items to round out the purchase? Or does the page go quiet while they comparison shop on other sites?

Leverage customer experience data from the holiday season to characterize interactions with these items and segment customers based on behavior. Look for behaviors associated with individual products or product categories. Know where to feature complementary items and which pages should show alternatives in the same category. For specific items, if more customers than expected open a new browser window and never return, it could be time to check competitor offers to make sure yours are in line.

Don’t Let a Poor Customer Experience Depress Holiday Sales

While gathering customer experience data for planning is great, no retailer can afford to ignore usability issues that alienate visitors during the holiday season, when frustrating experiences can lead them to leave money on the table.

Monitoring the customer experience during the holiday season is as critical as keeping an eye on site performance. For instance, changes in engagement time per page might indicate that customers are finding it difficult to complete tasks. A sharp increase in clicks per CTA that does not contribute to conversions could be due to repeated attempts to click a link that does not work. Low scroll reach shows that visitors are finding page content irrelevant or uninteresting. In all of these cases, a quick, low-risk fix can enhance the customer experience, increase conversions and boost sales.


High customer traffic and greater purchase intent make the holiday season an ideal laboratory for gathering rich data on the customer experience – data that can guide you for the year to come.

Written By Michal Harel 

This post was originally posted on the Clicktale Blog on December 22, 2015

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