Envolve Tech News

Customer Journey

The “typical” customer journey doesn’t exist. We can help.

The biggest priority for any online retailer is to provide a good customer journey. Good websites are designed to take shoppers from a landing page, through the discovery process, all the way to a successful and pain-free checkout.

The Virtual Shopping Assistant from Envolve Tech can be a very important part of that “discovery process.” Our A.I.-powered system fields questions directly from shoppers, provides answers, and makes product recommendations.

And there’s one thing our onboarding team always tells new clients when the Virtual Shopping Assistant is being set up: expect the questions your customers ask to surprise you.

Customers invariably ask different types of questions than our partners are expecting, and usually with a LOT more variety than expected as well.

As new, unexpected questions arrive, the Virtual Shopping Assistant is “trained” to provide answers to more and more questions. Eventually the number of new questions it can’t handle slows to a trickle.

Having seen this process play out hundreds of times now, we’ve noticed that purchasing decisions are much more complex than most retailers account for. Websites are built to guide shoppers along a set path, but how many shoppers precisely follow the path set out for them? Very few.

So few, in fact, it’s made us wonder if the “typical” customer following a “typical” customer journey even exists.

Putting yourself in the customer’s shoes

Accurately predicting human behaviour is impossible, but as retailers we still try our best when it comes to our websites. What other choice do we have?

If you’re like me, you’ve probably created personas for different types of typical customers you expect to visit your site. What sort of things do they like? What do they value? How can we get their attention, and their engagement? Then, as a skilled retailer, you build your brand and your website to appeal to these personas.

This is an important step in the development of any ecommerce site, but it’s essential to acknowledge that this process is extremely limited. Customers do not fit neatly into predefined personas, no matter how well designed. But even if they did, customers invariably approach each purchasing decision with an entirely different set of circumstances. Some may have had a product recommended by a close friend, but want a version which is closer to a product they enjoyed previously. Or perhaps they are interested in your brand because of a bad delivery experience with the last online retailer they ordered from.

Just think back to your last major purchase – how many factors actually contributed to you finally being willing to complete the checkout process? I bet if you think hard enough you can come up with at least five, maybe ten or more. How often do you think those same circumstances repeat themselves for other customers? Do they ever repeat at all?

And if a customer’s personal circumstances are totally unique, how can they be expected to follow a typical customer journey?

Why customer journeys still matter

Just because customer journeys are never typical doesn’t mean the concept has no value. Shoppers may behave in unpredictable ways, but ultimately they do want to buy things and retailers want to help them do this.

Expecting customers to adhere to a predefined customer journey isn’t realistic, but providing support for customer’s unique, individual journey is. That is where our Virtual Shopping Assistant excels.

Launching a Virtual Sales Assistant on a new site is always a learning process. Because our systems have successfully answered questions on hundreds of other sites, we tend to have an idea about the type of questions we will see. But the specific questions vary from website to website as they do from person to person. There really is no way to accurately anticipate what most questions will be until the system goes live.

Over time, thanks to its A.I.-powered technology, the Virtual Shopping Assistant can learn more and more answers to more and more questions. Eventually, it is able to handle even the most obscure, unusual information requests.

And, of course, as our Virtual Shopping Assistant gathers more knowledge about your customers, that information can be used to further refine your online presence to make sure it meets the needs of more and more shoppers.

Knowing that the Virtual Shopping Assistant can deal with any customer journey, not just the typical one we think customers take. It means your website is able to deal with every customer who arrives on your site, whatever the circumstances that led them there.

Interested? Get in touch.