The stakes have been raised when it comes to customer experience, with the successful retailers being the ones who can put their customers at the heart of everything they do. The shift to online shopping has seen consumers demanding the same quality of personalised experiences they get with companies like Spotify, Amazon and Netflix.
This means businesses that don’t prioritise creating and delivering tailored experiences run the risk of getting left behind.
Let’s dig a little deeper…
How the digital landscape has changed the customer journey
Modern technology has enabled businesses to be worldwide. This means consumers can easily access the world’s businesses via the internet, anytime, anywhere. Consumers can also see what businesses like yours have to offer anywhere in the world.
This clearly makes it harder for you to offer truly unique selling points (USPs) because despite your best efforts, there will always be another business somewhere that can offer the same (if not more) than you.
So, to appeal to your customers, you need to focus on how you can keep up with customer expectations and continuously improve the customer journey.
How you can improve your customer journey
Create one source of data truth and offer personalised experiences
Combine data from both your instore and online channels. This helps you create one complete view of your customers that can be used to enhance the experience for them. For example, access to transactional data helps you understand:
- What products your customers are buying
- How often they’re buying them
- What channels they’re using
Use these insights to create personalised experiences for your customers.
When personalisation is implemented well, you’ll not only gain a competitive advantage but also boost customer loyalty. In fact, recent research shows 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand that provides personalised experiences. So, it’s vital you focus on creating highly personalised customer experiences that are difficult for your competitors to imitate.
Some examples of personalisation include:
- Product suggestions based on what you already know about your customers (this could be previous website activity, order history, etc)
- Greeting returning customers/website visitors (this could be recommending products based on their previous website activity)
- Exclusive deals based on what you know about your customer
- Search results personalised to the customer’s previous interactions with your website/company
Anticipate customer expectations
Today’s consumer spends more time online and can easily access a variety of options when deciding which retailer best suits their needs. A 2020 report by Zendesk found that roughly 50% of customers say they would switch to a new brand after one bad experience.
With this added pressure, you must make sure your online storefront is equipped to go beyond the buyer journey and continue into the customer journey.
Some ways you can improve your online storefront include:
- An attractive website – your website reflects your brand and everything that it stands for. A consumer’s buying decision is usually made after three seconds on your website, so that first impression counts
- Social media – pick the channels best suited to your business and use it to connect with your customers. This could be replying to their comments, running giveaway competitions, etc
- Customer care – there’s no better promotion than satisfied clients. In fact, 68% of consumers say they are willing to pay more for products and services from a brand that’s known to offer good customer service experiences. So, offer a great customer experience customers remember and they’ll be more inclined to spread the word about your business
Offer round-the-clock support to your customers
More online shoppers theoretically means more orders and questions for your customer support team to manage. With chatbots, you can offer your customers round-the-clock assistance to their common queries and filter the urgent customer queries from the not-so-urgent.
Chatbots can also narrow down the intention of a customer request and if it needs to be passed on to your agents, they can jump straight into the conversation (without needing to ask prequalifying questions such as ‘what’s your name’, order number and so on). These self-service offerings can help you improve customer satisfaction, build trust and boost retention.
This end-to-end approach requires alignment across your business – marketing, product, sales, support and customer success – where all your teams leverage data to personalise every single touchpoint. Plus, you need to ensure you’re connecting these engagements across your channels so you have a single unified voice, even if your customer is interacting with different service reps at different points in time.
Ways you can create a single unified voice include:
- Brand consistency – the more consistent your brand is, the more recognisable it’ll be to consumers, helping build trust and reliability. For example, consumers often buy the same brand of washing powder or visit the same restaurant because we know what to expect and know we’ll enjoy the outcome. So, by providing consumers a dependable experience regardless of the channel of communication, you can increase the chances of them buying your products again and again
- One source of data truth – by having the full context on every person and company in one location, you can tailor experiences to the individual customer. This helps your customer service teams access the right data at the right time, meaning they won’t have to ask your customers the same questions over and over. Plus, the next agent can pick up from where the previous one left off, helping to reduce customer friction
You can read more into the importance of communication channels in customer experience by clicking here.
Combine your physical and online stores
By combining your physical and online stores into your omnichannel approach, you can keep your customers at the centre of the retail experience. Make the customer experience at your physical stores as fun and immersive as your online store. For example, use showrooms where customers can touch and ‘experience’ your products or services before buying them.
Then for your online experience, make it as multi-sensory as your physical stores. Tools like augmented reality – which allows customers to see what products will look like in real-life without needing to visit instore – can transform your online experience.
But don’t forget about brand consistency – customers should feel like they’re interacting with the same brand throughout.
Offer an omnichannel experience
From text and online chat to WhatsApp and Twitter direct messaging, the more channels you have to communicate with your customers, the more you need to keep track of what’s going on.
When customers start messaging on your website and then switch to mobile, they want a seamless experience. They want to pick up where they left off, regardless of the device or channel. That means your team needs the required context when resolving the issue. So, it’s vital your customer-facing teams have the full picture of these engagements across different channels.
There are technology solutions which can help increase visibility of your different channels and give you a competitive advantage. They include:
- Commerce solutions to connect the storefront and back-end that ensures you provide seamless customer experiences across all your go to market channels
- Customer relationship management (CRM) systems which can centralise key customer data and help you gather information on trends (e.g. where most of your leads come from)
- Product information management (PIM) system that ensures only the most accurate, timely and high-quality product data are shared through your sales and marketing channels
- Content management system (CMS) that can optimise your website so it delivers the right messages to the right people at the right time
- Artificial intelligence (AI) that’s capable of analysing customer behaviour on your commerce platform or content management system (CMS)
You can read more into the benefits of incorporating technology into your digital strategy by downloading our guide below.
Put your customers at the heart of everything you do
With businesses increasingly dependent on relationships rather than transactions, the entire customer journey becomes more and more important. By upgrading your CX strategy to include personalised interactions, self-service options and modern messaging challenges, you’ll not only create a richer experience, but help build a lasting relationship with customers.
Read more about how other retailers are coping and what they’re planning to do in our exclusive report in association with industry publication Retail Gazette. We look at how the UK’s retail industry has experienced five years of change in five months.
Download it below.