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These Fatal Flaws Are Killing Brand Reputations

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Businesses are beginning to look at how they can best meet customer preferences and expectations next year. Each customer has individual wants and needs, with many expressing a desire for an exceptional online experience when using a brand’s website.

With each passing year, these desires increase and it’s important to evolve congruently. Over 65% of customers say that their experience on a website or app is a major factor in their willingness to recommend a brand. Several poor choices are detrimental to the CX (customer experience), so here’s what companies need to stop doing on digital platforms in 2023.

Related: The Relationship Between Reputation and Brand

1. Prioritizing web/desktop over mobile

In the U.S., 65% of all online traffic comes from either a smartphone or tablet — a trend that continues to increase year over year — yet many brands aren’t prioritizing mobile-first initiatives. Companies that insist on a desktop-driven UX (user experience) are bound to crumble. A total of 85% of users believe a company’s website should be just as good, if not better, on a phone than a desktop site. All websites should incorporate a responsive web design that adjusts its pages based on the pixel width for every device used.

2. Disregarding inconsistencies

A brand’s website needs to balance a uniqueness that sets it apart from competitors while also maintaining broad accessibility and technical efficiency. Inconsistencies compounded or left unchecked can do serious damage, such as:

  • Overlooking technical issues: While it may be tempting to disregard minor technical errors, the smallest glitches like a broken link or a misplaced button can lead to thousands in lost revenue if not addressed. Using DXI (digital experience intelligence) platforms can help catch these issues and alert teams so they can resolve them in real time.
  • Allowing aesthetic disparities: Branding should feel absolutely consistent through all channels that fall under the company umbrella — mobile apps, websites, social media and in-person. An optimized omnichannel experience gives its customers the same aesthetic, feel and service no matter where they’re at, allowing users to always feel they’re always in the right place.

Related: What Customers Expect Out of Their Digital Experience

3. Lacking transparency

Companies need to establish trust and be ultra-transparent concerning privacy and security. Customers should always know how their data is being used, and it’s a growing demand: 87% of consumers won’t do business with a company if they are concerned about the website’s security practices. To meet this demand, brands need to be clear and definitive about user safety — providing privacy policies in an effortless way. Better yet, an additional step should be to allow customers the option to opt out of tracking or data collection.

Moreover, customers need to know the exact cost of their purchases. Hidden fees feel like tricks: 48% of customers abandon their carts due to extra costs — shipping, taxes, service fees, etc. — being too high. Being upfront about the total cost establishes trust with a brand.

4. Relying on humans

AI tools are becoming a must for businesses to maintain a competitive advantage. People can’t do everything all at once in the same way AI can. Embracing technology to perform various tasks can allow a brand to prioritize business. Incorporating AI can assist with:

  • Customer communication: An AI chatbot can queue users for customer service, as well as answer basic questions, troubleshoot issues or direct them to correct pages.
  • Reducing errors: AI can be used to detect anomalies and flag them to IT to stop problems at the source before causing more harm.

Related: 7 Powerful Ways to Improve Your Brand Reputation and Recognition

5. Treating every customer the same

Personalization is becoming increasingly important for users. According to McKinsey, 71% of customers expect personalized interactions when visiting a website, and 76% get frustrated when they don’t receive a personalized experience. Brands that don’t offer personalized customer experiences in 2023 will see customer loyalty, customer happiness and overall revenue suffer. Personalization issues can include:

  • Ignoring accessibility: As 73% of consumers are affected by a disability in some way, digital platforms need to make the online experience as accessible as possible to improve the overall user experience — helping drive a brand’s bottom line when its platform is user-friendly to the entire population. Simply ensuring the accessibility of subtitles for videos for Deaf and hard-of-hearing communities, improving contrast for the visually impaired or altogether providing a dynamic interface that gives users a choice for their preferred experience goes a long way.
  • Mandatory account creation: Forcing users to create an account before participating in a brand’s websites leaves a bad taste in their mouths. While companies may think it helps with retargeting and lead generation, it often leads to cart abandonment. Brands should allow visitors to choose the benefit of account creation.
  • Limiting self-service options: When customers seek solutions, they want immediate answers. Providing users with a web-based self-service model is both cost-effective and saves time and energy for a brand and its customers. Increasing self-service options wherever possible gives customers the tools they need to flourish on their own.

6. Ditching simplicity

Simplicity is key to usability. More often than not, an overly complex design makes a website harder for users to find what they need. While trying to stand out might sound good on paper, peacocking can frustrate users and lead to long-term retention and revenue issues.

Overloading a web page with improperly sized images, animations or other superfluous additions creates slow loading times. Research shows 40% of users abandon a site that takes more than three seconds to load. Bombarding your customers with pop-ups, music, autoplay videos and more drives them away. Keeping pages simple and impactful while optimizing design elements guarantees a quick load response and mitigates offending customers with objectionable junk.

Approaching a design that’s clean and efficient should allow users to reach their desired destination within three clicks. Having easy-to-discern menus for streamlined navigation, an extensive footer page and more lets users get where they want with ease.

Related: Why Your Company’s Online Reputation Matters

A New Years resolution

Let the looming new year be a reminder to prioritize a positive customer experience on your channels. Digital experiences are increasingly important to every company’s user base, and one false move can turn them away forever.

As many make resolutions for the turning of the calendar year to do away with bad habits, brands too can commit to making the right changes that will help them stand out in the hyper-competitive landscape.

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