Much like Alice through the looking glass, the idea that optimizing customer experience means showing consumers less rather than more may seem a little strange, but there’s no denying it’s exactly what they want.

Let’s think about it from a retail perspective. When you enter a store, it’s reassuring to see that there’s a knowledgeable staff member on hand should you need them. Ideally, they’ll greet you and let you make your way around the store until you need advice or are ready to make a purchase, when they will respond efficiently and with a smile. Now imagine entering the same store but this time the employee positions themselves just behind your right elbow, so close you can feel their breath on your neck. Each time you pick something up they push five similar items into your hands. If you choose to make a purchase they continuously stop entering the purchase details in to the cash register to convince you to buy random objects, like dentures or super glue kits. It takes forever, and eventually you escape the store having missed your meeting/lunch/bus and lost your wits.

It’s not hard to guess which experience most of us will prefer, but why? On paper the second scenario should be fine. It’s certainly what we’re used to experiencing online to some extent; a sort of never ending parade of suggestions and recommendations, which on sites like Amazon.com are tailored to our match our preferences or previous searches. However, if you take away that intelligence, what was once a potential source of inspiration and a time-saver quickly becomes at best a nuisance, at worst a reason to never return.

In the era of Web 2.0, successful online consumer experience means that websites and portals that are unable to respond swiftly to a consumer’s desires or create a seamless journey, are being left in the dust as customers discover alternatives that put their needs first.

Businesses are realizing that the Internet has shifted the balance of power; consumers are more in control of how and where they use their money than ever before. And, as Brett King notes, increased choices in customer touchpoints or channels mean that the consumer will continue to be empowered in new ways. The only way brands can ensure they retain existing customers and attract new ones is by providing an unforgettably positive online experience. This means it can’t just be functional; it has to offer more. Forrester’s graph below clearly shows how effective digital experiences should meet three very different types of consumer expectations. Beyond being useful and informative and easy, the ideal experience should be an enjoyable one:

Backbase’s innovative lean portal, based on advanced and innovative web technologies, helps brands to create portals that deliver a great customer experience, because the customer’s experience is at the heart of everything we do.

One of the ways that we implement consumer experience principles is by blending open and closed environments seamlessly, so the consumer always feels at ‘home’. To achieve this we create an experience that ensures the that consumers are never confronted with a site where any page has a different look and feel from the last. Whether they are on the marketing page, their own personal profile or looking for support, the consumer is always reassured they are in the right place by the consistent brand environment. We make this happen by essentially keeping the the consumer on the same page and just providing different menu options once they have logged in and begun their journey.

We also believe that every page a consumer lands on along their journey should be personal and relevant to their goals. Our customization and targeting tools make it possible to anticipate your customers actual needs and avoid bombarding them with irrelevant and unwanted advertisements. You can even use our technology to show your customers you want them to be in control, which will make them feel valued, by letting them adjust their own environment. With our technologies consumers have the ability to customize their own view and determine which widgets and menus will create the most rewarding experience for them.

Last but not least, another essential element to providing a seamless consumer experience is remembering that your customer’s probably won’t view your site through only one device. Trying to squeeze a full-size site experience on to a mobile screen is another great example of less being more. Recognize that a visitor on a mobile phone is probably coming to the site for different reasons than someone on a PC, and give them what they need when they need it. Someone on a mobile is more likely to need an app or widget that uses GPS to locate the nearest ATM than to read a comprehensive history of your brand. People who are always on the move will also expect to be able to do their day-to-day chores, like finding their account manager online and messaging with them as needed, making purchases or transactions – all of which we can make happen.

In sum, the ingredients needed to create an unbeatable consumer experience is a portal that is beautiful to look at, easy to use, registers the device and acknowledges previous behavior to provide a visitor experience and has been designed to be wholly relevant to the individual consumer.

Just to prove we’re serious about supporting consumer experience the whole way down the line, Backbase’s lean portal is just as easy to use for the business owner as it is for the end-customer. Need to see it to believe it? Come on through