Every February brings those tell-tale signs that can’t be ignored: pink and red hearts hung on the wall; store aisles crammed with boxes of chocolates; a small, naked man with wings stalking you with his bow and arrow. It’s Valentine’s Day, the holiday that celebrates love and romance.

But for many business owners, the love they crave most is from their customers. Unfortunately, problems with your website or applications may be sending those would-be customers into the arms of your competitors, and the worst part is that you may not even be aware it’s happening.

Instead of a dozen roses, we want to offer you a dozen “e-commerce dating” tips to help ensure that Cupid’s arrow finds its mark in your customers’ hearts. These 12 ideas can make it easy for your customers to fall in love with your e-commerce business, not just on Feb. 14 but all year round.

1. Make a good impression

Not everyone believes in love at first sight, but there’s no doubt that first impressions count. In fact, every single digital interaction that takes place between your customer and your business impacts your relationship. The collective mosaic of all those impressions represents your overall digital customer experience (often referred to as “DCX”). The tips provided here can help you make sure your e-commerce website or mobile app delivers the best DCX possible.

2. Be reliable

Someone who fails to follow through on their promises is someone who does little to build trust. Reliability, on the other hand, is a very appealing trait in a potential partner. But what does reliability look like for a digital business? Your digital channels are transforming the way you’re engaging with your customers. They need to work reliably and always be available.

3. Don’t make them wait

Tardiness is another negative trait—show up late for your first date and there probably won’t be a second one. The same goes for your website responsiveness. Users today are becoming increasingly impatient. If they have to wait just 3 seconds for a page to load, 40% will abandon your site. Some important website metrics to keep an eye on are frontend response time, backend response time, API response times, and third-party service response times.

candy heart: e-commerce tips4. Be a good communicator

Clear communication is key to any healthy relationship. The same goes for your customer relationships. Are your products and services clearly explained in your website copy? Are your calls-to-action (CTAs) clear and effective? In addition, the clarity of all your customer communications—marketing emails, product updates, social media postings—is paramount to furthering your relationship with your customers.

5. Always look your best

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but it never hurts to make an effort with your appearance. The same goes for your website, which should be visually engaging, well designed, and simple to navigate, allowing customers to easily find what they are looking for. If your website is looking dated and hasn’t been redesigned in a while, it might be time for a professional refresh. And if you do make changes, run A/B tests to see which design features and functionality perform best.

6. Be honest

Dishonest people make lousy lovers, and deception never leads to a deep connection. Make sure your customers know exactly what they’re ordering by keeping your product visuals and descriptions up-to-date and accurate. Make it easy to find accurate information about delivery dates, return policies, and product support—honor those commitments.

7. Give them what they want

Nobody appreciates having their expectations quashed. From the moment your customer hits the “buy’ button, their transaction (and your revenue) is vulnerable to interruption by a host of payment gateway, payment processor, and network errors or slow-downs. A real-time analytics dashboard can give you visibility into performance across web, infrastructure, and mobile applications, so you can make sure customers always get what they ask for. Key metrics to track: payment success rate, payment gateway response time, and third-party payment provider response time.

candy heart: e-commerce tips8. Offer security

When it comes to love, trust matters. Your significant other expects you to safeguard whatever they share with you: feelings, secrets, Netflix passwords. The same goes for your customers. Your online customers are trusting you with their valuable information, including personal details and credit card numbers, which you must keep secure at all costs. What you might not realize is that your organization’s precious data may actually be safer with a Software-as-a-Service provider in the cloud than in your own data center.

9. Pay attention

Paying attention does not just involve being a good listener, or remembering birthdays and anniversaries. It’s a matter of noticing things before they become a problem. Make sure you find—and resolve—problems before your customers do. By the time someone has contacted customer service or posted an unhappy message on social media, it may already be too late. Take advantage of synthetic monitoring to simulate user behavior and catch problems before they affect your customers. Run automated tests to find out where specific errors and slow pages are, so you can deliver a top-notch digital customer experience no matter where your users are.

10. Work on your issues

Even the most seemingly perfect relationship isn’t always perfect, but addressing your issues and working through them is important. While it can be tempting to roll out new website features without stopping to fix existing problems, those problems will often come back to haunt you. If it’s a choice between releasing that shiny new bit of functionality or fixing an underlying infrastructure problem that’s causing a half-second delay in response time, consider putting the fun value-add stuff on hold and focus on the boring (but important) fixes.

11. Focus on the things that really matter

“Pick your battles wisely” is common—and sound—relationship advice. Likewise, with KPIs throughout your entire technology stack, figuring out the most important ones to measure and optimize can be challenging. How do you identify the most meaningful underlying metrics? Start by measuring the service-level quality of your digital experiences across three dimensions: availability (is my site up and running?); functionality (is it working right?); and speed (is it working fast enough?). This framework can help you prioritize your efforts to improve the digital customer experience through the different layers of your technology stack. Learn more >

12. Make plans

Love is a commitment. Though you might be wrapped up in the rush of the moment, it’s important to think about how you’ll keep the flame burning. E-commerce companies often get stuck in reactive mode—obsessed with pressing current issues and looking into the future only as far as the next urgent alert. But remember: e-commerce is a 365-day business. While there’s a lot at stake during peak shopping moments such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, every day is critical for online retailers. You need a flexible, “always-on” approach to development, testing, and monitoring. The long-term future of your customer relationships depends on it!

Love lessons

Of course, succeeding at e-commerce involves more than just following a few tips, but Valentine’s Day is a great time to consider how to better woo your customers. Want to learn how to deliver an awesome end user experience that turns customers into brand advocates? Check out our free ebook: The Digital Business Breakthrough.

 

David Hennessy contributed to this post.

B.J. Hinshaw is a freelance writer based in Northern California. View posts by .

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