Thursday Jan 17, 2013

Online Customer Journey: The Selection and Purchase Experiences

Today we continue our examination of the online customer experience journey by taking at look at the next two stages – product selection and purchasing.

The Selection Experience

Once you’ve successfully engaged prospective customers with a relevant and interactive experience, and gotten them to consider your organization as a possible solution for their needs, you can continue to guide and influence their selection process by making it easier for them to search for and discover suitable solutions for their needs. Depending on your business model, there are numerous approaches that aid the online selection process including the incorporation of faceted search and guided navigation, segmentation and targeting, or even endorsements from other customers in the form of comments, ratings or reviews on the web presence.

If you’re a business that has a large product catalog, integrating faceted search into the web experience can be an effective way for potential customers to dynamically explore your site and find relevant and desired items more quickly and easily. During the product selection process, site visitors want the ability to navigate based on their own unique preferences and to view content and search results that are most relevant to them. Often, the search experience on a website frustrates potential buyers or provides them with too many irrelevant results to wade through. A solution such as Oracle Endeca Guided Search can be integrated with your WebCenter Sites deployment to optimize the search capabilities on your web presence, so you can deliver more precise, more relevant, and more complete results that help guide and influence product selection, leading to increased conversion rates and customer satisfaction.

Another way in which you can aid the selection process on your web presence is by using the segmentation and targeting tools in Oracle WebCenter Sites to deliver a more relevant and personalized online experience. As potential customers browse through your site, you can use explicit criteria, implicit criteria or a combination of both, to deliver the most relevant information to those customers aiding their selection process. For an organization with a broad set of solutions that are specialized for buyers with distinct needs (financial services or insurance are good examples), segmentation and targeting can be used to narrow the number of solutions being featured to those that are most relevant to a particular visitor, making the experience on your site more efficient and effective.

And finally, don’t overlook the power of peer influence when it comes to the selection process. 75% of consumers put a high degree of trust into the opinions fellow consumers have posted online.1 By incorporating user-generated content (UGC) features into your web presence such as comments, ratings and reviews, you can tap into the extremely persuasive powers of other online consumers to help influence the behavior of your site visitors and make their selection process easier. With Oracle WebCenter Sites, robust tools for UGC deployment, moderation and management are available out-of-the box.

The Purchase Experience

If your business model includes an ecommerce component, speeding and simplifying the purchase process is the next step in the online customer experience journey. A streamlined and efficient online purchase process is vital to preventing shopping cart abandonment. The purchase process can even become another opportunity for engaging customers and influencing them to purchase more or related products; it can also be structured to incentivize customers to take action now through the offer of various promotions.

Websites span the spectrum from marketing-driven to commerce-driven, including a variety that are in between and combine marketing and commerce to varying degrees for different purposes.

Oracle’s ATG Web Commerce is a top ranked commerce solution that enables you to deliver an engaging and efficient online buying experience. When combined with Oracle WebCenter Sites, these solutions bring together best-in-class web experience management and ecommerce capabilities, assuring that your site visitors have a personalized, interactive, and multichannel experience as make their way through the customer journey, researching, selecting, and making purchases.

Please visit the WebCenter blog tomorrow as we wrap up our journey through the online customer experience. To learn more about how Oracle empowers people and powers brands to deliver engaging experiences that drive business results, also check out our Executive Strategy Brief on Customer Experience.

1 Neilsen, “Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages,” 2011

Tuesday Jan 15, 2013

Does Your Online Experience Support the Customer Journey?

We live in an always connected world. Every minute of every day, two million search queries are made on Google, nearly 700,000 pieces of content are shared on Facebook, 571 new websites are created, and consumers spend $272,000 shopping online.1 We shop, we play and we connect online, and so do your customers. There is no doubt that the online channel is often your customers’ preferred channel for conducting and managing their personal and professional business. But does the online experience that you deliver really turn casual site visitors into long-term paying customers and advocates for your brand?

If you’re part of an organization looking to compete in an increasingly web, mobile and social world, you must take care to develop and execute an online customer experience strategy that supports the entire customer journey. Your goal should be to provide an engaging, consistent and connected experience, whether you are dealing with a prospective customer who is visiting your public website for the first time, or a long time customer who has logged on to your self-service portal to look up account information or conduct a transaction.

While there are many different stages of the customer journey, there are five primary phases you’ll want to consider carefully as you develop your online customer experience strategy:

Online Customer Experience Journey

1) Research

As potential customers begin to research solutions to the problems they are trying to solve, the focus of your online customer experience should be on engagement. The days when prospects could be won over by a static, one-size-fits-all web experience are long gone. Instead, you need to focus on providing prospects with personalized and interactive online experiences that are easily accessible and optimized for PC’s, tablets and mobile phones. By combining a well thought out content strategy with a dynamic web presence, you can begin to earn the trust of prospective customers and get them to seriously consider your brand.

2) Select

Once you’ve successfully engaged prospective customers with a relevant and interactive experience, and gotten them to consider your organization as a possible solution for their needs, you can continue to guide and influence their selection process by making it easier for them to search for and discover suitable solutions for their needs. Depending on your business model, there are numerous approaches that aid the online selection process including the incorporation of faceted search and guided navigation, segmentation and targeting, or even endorsements from other customers in the form of comments, ratings or reviews on the web presence.

3) Purchase

If your business model includes an eCommerce component, speeding and simplifying the purchase process is the next step in the online customer experience journey. A streamlined and efficient online purchase process is vital to preventing shopping cart abandonment. The purchase process can even become another opportunity for engaging customers and influencing them to purchase more or related products; it can also be structured to incent customers to take action now through various promotions or offers.

4) Service

Once you’ve successfully converted site visitors into paying customers, you’ll want to assure that it is easy for customers to do business with you and to help them get the most out of their investment in your products or services. For certain industries, such as financial services, your online presence may even be the primary channel in which customers conduct business with you. In any case, an effective customer self-service portal can not only drive down service costs, but it can actually improve customer satisfaction at all phases of the ownership experience, from product delivery to use and maintenance.

5) Recommend

The final phase that you should consider in your online marketing strategy is the recommendation phase, whereby satisfied customers become advocates for your brand and recommend it to others. By giving your customers opportunities to share their experiences with their social networks, and by enabling them to endorse your products and services in the form of comments, ratings, and reviews on your web presence, you help extend the reach of your brand and leverage your customers’ influence over their peers – truly one of your most powerful assets in your marketing toolkit.

Developing an effective online experience that supports the customer journey is critical to driving sales and earning long term loyalty. Customers’ needs change as they move between the research, selection, purchase, service and recommendation phases of the lifecycle, often necessitating a number of different technologies to deliver on customers’ expectations at each stage. From a technology perspective, this often means integrating web experience management, faceted search, eCommerce, or portal technologies that help support the online customer experience and unify it across all online touch points seamlessly. Be sure to check back on the WebCenter blog this week as we take a closer look at customers' expectations and needs at each of the fives phases of their online journey and the CX technologies that can enable your businesses to deliver on them.

*****

Webcast: Connect the Online Customer Experience with Oracle WebCenter

If you’d like to learn more about how to connect the online customer experience with Oracle WebCenter, please register for our webcast on Thursday, January 17 at 10a.m. PT / 1p.m. ET. You will learn how Oracle WebCenter:

  • Enables contextually relevant and interactive experiences across web, mobile and social channels
  • Works with Oracle ATG Commerce and Oracle Endeca to deliver consistent and engaging browsing, shopping and search experiences across all of your customer facing websites
  • Enables you to optimize the performance of your online initiatives through integration with Oracle Real-Time Decisions for automated targeting and segmentation

Register for the webcast today.

1 AllTwitter, Twitter, Facebook, Google, YouTube -- What Happens On the Internet Every 60 Seconds

Friday Dec 21, 2012

Provide Your Customers with the Best Browsing, Shopping and Search Experiences Across Your Marketing and Commerce Websites

Are you providing your customers with the best possible browsing, shopping and search experiences across all your marketing and commerce websites? Successful organizations must deliver an engaging online experience that is personalized, interactive and consistent across all phases of the customer journey from research to selection to support and follow on purchases. This requires a new approach that connects and optimizes all customer touch points.

Attend this webcast to learn how you can enable a more engaging online customer experience by combining Oracle WebCenter Sites with Oracle ATG Commerce and Oracle Endeca. With Oracle WebCenter Sites you can:

  • Unify the online customer experience by bringing together best-in-class web experience management, eCommerce, and faceted search capabilities
  • Encourage social interaction by incorporating ratings, comments, reviews and social sharing capabilities into your web presence
  • More easily ingest content feeds from your suppliers and simplify the management of high volumes of detailed product information

Register now for the Webcast.

About

Oracle WebCenter is the center of engagement for business—powering exceptional experiences for customers, partners, and employees. It connects people, process, and information with the most complete portfolio of portal, Web experience management, content, imaging and collaboration technologies.

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