I was on a hunt to find blue Birkenstock sandals for my daughter. And as the holidays drew closer time to order was running short. Not finding them on the local shopping expedition, I realized my best option was to purchase them on line. After I casually clarified she didn’t want the Vegan ones, I was ready to buy. I knew they’d be expensive so I wanted to shop around to see what kind of prices I could find.
Googling gave me a large volume of Birkenstock shopping choices. At the top of the list was my favorite on line department store where I’m a regular shopper. The trust fund there is pretty large so it was a good place to begin. Plus, being a Virgo, loyalty is a fairly significant factor in the customer experience equation. Although I found the sandals she wanted, they were pricey and no discounts applied. So despite the loyalty and trust, I continued my shopping trip.
Next stop was a Birkenstock specialty shop which was new to me. They had a good selection but I found their web site stressful and choppy to navigate. I’m not sure if it was the Log In tab indicating I’d possibly need to join prior to purchase, the Contact Us tab being ‘misplaced’ in the primary navigation, or wondering why there were flags asking me for a language selection in the left navigation, it just didn’t feel friendly. I stayed for a moment but then moved on to a third store in search of the blue sandals.
Although the landing page of the third Birkenstock on line shop wasn’t particularly tidy, there were elements about the shopping experience that quickly helped me to feel I could trust this web store. Highlighted are a few key elements that accelerated my willingness to trust this on line resource.
First the home page immediately welcomed me, literally with a Welcome message: Welcome to Birkenstock Central. I felt like they really were glad I was visiting their store.
Tip#1 – Make your visitors feel welcomed.
On the landing page there were two main choices: See All Men’s Shoes or See All Women’s Shoes. That’s all I needed — easy. I clicked on See All Women’s Shoes and quickly located the sandals my daughter wanted. And that style happened to be on sale. Yes!
Tip#2 - Design so important info is easy to find and navigate.
One of my concerns about ordering on line from a company I was unfamiliar was the return policy. What if they didn’t fit her or if by Dec. 25th she no longer wanted blue in her wardrobe? Would they take them back? How much would it cost me to ship them back to the company? However, I felt reassured by the message on the web site exclaiming that exchanges were free, so I continued with my transaction.
Tip#3 – Make your Return Process and Policy findable and clear. (Hint: 100% Guarantee increases customer confidence.)
About to select her shoe size, I realized the sizes were scaled European and I would need an American translation. Conveniently the shoe size equivalent chart was accessed via a very handy link and in one click I knew what size to order. When I selected her size, the system indicated they were in stock. There was an option to have them wrapped for a few extra dollars but why end a holiday tradition of wrapping gifts until midnight on Christmas Eve. At least I’m usually finished before Santa arrives! I clicked on the big maroon Buy Now button and made my purchase.
Tip#4 – Design the system to anticipate customer needs, be obvious and respond as customers expect.
The purchase transaction went smoothly. There were no surprises, and more importantly, no missed info that I needed to go back and fill in. I received a confirmation page thanking me for my order that contained my Order ID. The message told me an email confirmation had been sent to me with the order info, but I still saved the page as a favorite, just in case.
Tip#5 – Provide clear feedback from the system indicating what’s been accomplished.
After I placed the order, the system asked if I would take 5 minutes to provide feedback on the purchase transaction. Very proactive, brief and I completed the survey.
Tip#6 – Clearly communicate to your customers their experiences matter to your company.
My expectation was that I wouldn’t hear from the company again and I’d likely receive a package within a few days in the mail containing the blue sandals. I felt good about my purchase decision but still had some reservations being it was a first time transaction with the company. Remember Virgo, cautious. I’d wait to see if the goods arrived as expected and then do a full evaluation of Birkenstock Central.
Well the day after I placed my order I received an email from the store providing a link to an up to the minute status of my order. Their brief note told me my order was on track and provided transparency to status info anytime and at my fingertips. It helped increase my trust in the company and confidence in product arrival. Now I‘m wowed!
Tip#7 – Transparency reassures the customer and builds trust in the company. Be an open book.
It’s evident this company talks to its customers, listens to what they have to say and designs the way they think. They’ve discovered what’s important to me, a typical customer, transformed that information into their on line store and designed for an optimal customer experience. Everyday more companies are realizing the ROI of customer centered design. Why? Because if this experience stays on it’s current track, not only will it influence my future purchase decisions at their web store, I’ll be more likely to recommend the company to others because they’ve earned my trust.