6 factors that drive online customer satisfaction

We're all connoisseurs when it comes to the shopping experience in physical stores. Everybody can probably name several things that a store should do to increase customer satisfaction.

But what about the customer experience when buying online? 

Professor Magnus Söderlund is the head of the Center for Retailing at the Marketing and Strategy department at the Stockholm School of Economics. His focus is on what makes marketing and sales effective – a subject he has published several studies and books on.

Here are six key drivers of customer satisfaction, according to Professor Söderlund:

Realism: Customers who perceive the product presentation to be more realistic are also more satisfied – they feel the information they are getting is more sensible and truthful, which gives the feeling of satisfaction. Consider what way you can present the product that will realistically show what it is like to own and use- instead of just going for the “salesy” approach, highlighting the good while sweeping the bad under the carpet. Be open and transparent. Show your product like it really is.

Suprise: Photos and videos have been around for a very long time. If you can find a novel way of presenting your product so that the format generates some level of surprise with customers, this will, in turn, lead to higher satisfaction.

Supplier effort: Customers react positively when they perceive the seller has made an extra effort in presenting the offer. This is an often-overlooked dimension in marketing, according to Professor Söderlund. Still, perceived effort has been proven to be an important satisfaction driver in many studies. Going the extra mile when crafting a product presentation will be rewarded with a higher level of satisfaction – as long as your hard work is evident to the customer.

Inspiration: The dimension of inspiration is all about how an offer inspires new ideas in the buyer. Does the offer make customers think about ways they can apply the product in their lives? Does it help them imagine what it would be like to use it? In that case, it is inspiring and will generate more customer satisfaction.

Control: When customers feel they’re in control of the narrative, they’re bound to be more satisfied. Just presenting customers with a text or even showing a video doesn’t build the feeling of control – You’re the one controlling the content. When taking a product from a shelf in a physical store, the customer is in the driver’s seat, exploring the product on their own terms. Letting the customer be the “king” of the situation, therefore, drives satisfaction. So – don’t lead the narrative – try to provide options instead.

Having said that, sometimes, it’s the lack of control that is attractive – for example, going on a rollercoaster, reading a book, or seeing a movie, you actually enjoy not being in control.

Absorption: “Absorption” is about how much a product presentation can grab your attention and “suck you in” – engulfing you in the experience. Most people find the feeling of being absorbed by a subject to be very pleasant and rewarding. So, the more absorption, the higher the customer satisfaction. When you can pick a product up in a store, then the product itself can provide absorption – think about how you could achieve this in the online context – maybe you tell a story or create an immersive, interactive experience around the product.

Use the 6 dimensions to evaluate your product information

You can use these 6 dimensions as a scorecard for your product presentation. If you can achieve a high level in all six dimensions, then you can count on a positive response from your audience.

Follow me to dive deeper

In future posts, I will go deeper into each of these six dimensions to explore various ways of building higher customer satisfaction online.