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The astonishing impact of site search on the customer journey

The astonishing impact of site search on the customer journey 1

By Jon Buss, Managing Director & EVP, EMEA at Yext

User experience has become a widely discussed topic, and for good reason: the experience consumers have with a business will have a direct effect on it’s reputation and success. There’s an array of options available to marketers who are looking to draw in clicks from new customers, but businesses that manage to maintain that traffic are those that are delivering on what their customers are looking for.

The accessibility of information has been one of the greatest advantages of the internet. Search engines like Google and websites like Amazon have trained people to expect a seamless search experience by understanding how they ask questions and delivering specific results..

We’ve now become accustomed to receiving information at the touch of a button – whether it’s finding directions to the nearest bank branch, or learning about the different services a company has to offer, the customer journey has changed and consumers expect specific answers when searching on a business’ own site.

However, our research found that 45% of senior UK marketers believe that visitors are often frustrated with website search, and when customers can’t find the answers they’re looking for, they resort to taking their business elsewhere. As we delve into 2022, what can marketing professionals do to help bridge this information gap?

Understanding the gap 

In recent years, digital services have risen in importance when connecting businesses and customers. Our research on customer attitudes found that 58% of UK adults use site search at least weekly, with 88% agreeing that it’s an important tool for providing them with accurate and up to date information online. However, too often site search doesn’t achieve its purpose of providing the expected answers. We found that 46% of users believe that site search doesn’t understand their questions, while over half (56%) think it provides them with unrelated search results.

Businesses are too often unaware of their downfalls when delivering on what customers are looking for. Astonishingly, 95% of the product teams surveyed believe that their site is easy for users to navigate. This shows the gap between what customers expect from a business’ site, and what businesses are currently offering.

Meeting customer expectations

Search is critical to driving millions of valuable transactions a day – and that’s why brands like Amazon have invested heavily in modern, AI search technology. For businesses looking to improve the way they answer customer questions, this sort of technology has become a key element. With the rise of natural language processing, consumers are able to ask questions and search for information as if they were talking face-to-face to an employee. From search engines and chatbots to voice assistants, we’re all actively interacting with technology in a particular way: by asking questions.

But asking questions is the easy part, answering them can be a lot harder. Search queries are becoming longer and more complex, which can be a pain point for brands. That means businesses need to embrace best practices that can help them surface the proper information when customers ask a direct question about their brand.

It all starts with building a knowledge graph as part of your search strategy. Brands need to be able to store all of the facts about their business, all mapped to one another, in a way that AI-powered discovery services can read and understand. This is the foundation for leveraging artificial intelligence in a martech stack and answering sophisticated questions everywhere consumers search.

To keep up with this rapidly evolving space in 2022, businesses need to prioritise their customer experience, and should leverage the power of AI search technology to keep customers informed and deliver accurate answers.

Make your website work for you 

Customers are searching on brand websites more than ever. But it turns out that a lot of businesses can’t answer simple questions via their own site search experience – creating a negative experience that bounces would-be customers off their website over to Google, where they can easily get intercepted by a competitor.

With the rise of AI across most industries, implementing new technologies will become a must for many in 2022. Marketers should be able to see the entire customer journey, including managing the search experience and monitoring customer queries, in order to ensure that every element is owned, invested in, and managed effectively. Doing this will enable businesses to deliver consistent and valuable omnichannel customer experiences that have them coming back again and again.

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