“The key is to set realistic customer expectations, and then not to just meet them, but to exceed them — preferably in unexpected and helpful ways”, quoted by Sir Richard Branson.
Businesses who cannot anticipate the needs of their customers cannot survive for long. In order to succeed, the retail businesses need more than survival methods, they need the right set of weapons.
In a recent survey conducted by Temkin Experience Ratings across 331 companies across 20 industries, the companies Ace Hardware, BJ’s Wholesale Club, and QVC have topped the list in delivering the best customer experience in the retail industry. Ask them the secret to their success, they will just stress the importance of customer experience. Are there any best practices that a retail business can follow? Based on extensive research and their expertise, SerenaWay customer experience consultants suggest the following have proven to be the best practices in the current and for the future retail market.
Research has shown that emotionally connected customer is twice valuable than a highly satisfied customer. Companies can reach out to their customers through several emotional motivators, they include a sense of belonging, achievement, etc. They can map the customer journey through emotional touch points. SerenaWay suggests that emotion needs to be pursued like science and strategy. Understanding your customers’ mindsets and segmenting them based on that helps in creating effective communication that enables in establishing emotional connect. Emotionally connected customer will visit the shop more often, be it online or offline, will recommend the shop to others, will be less sensitive towards price changes, and will generate more revenue than the other regular customers. The omnichannel presence, regularly attending to customer feedback, a well-trained employee and implementing latest technological advancements can all help in achieving the required emotional connection.
Every business wants to reach out to as many customers as possible. With the ease in technology, decreasing brand loyalty and availability of too many options consumers would prefer going with an easy and hassle free option. Amazon, the leading online shopping giant has opened its offline bookstore in Seattle. Retailers no longer want to confine to one mode of selling. Along with being physically present, they also want to be reached out online and also through mobile apps. Also, it’s not just the omnichannel presence that a customer is looking for but they expect a well-integrated omnichannel experience. If a customer is shopping for a certain brand of coffee in a retail store, he wants the app on his phone to show the exact aisle where the item is located. If he is purchasing a mobile online, he still wants to see the features of the phone physically. Hence, retailers need to practice a well-integrated omnichannel experience.
No customer wants to ask or answer a question twice. With the technological advancements and as every information is available at fingertips, most of the consumers prefer to avoid approaching a sales assistant for any assistance they need. This makes the task of sales personnel very tricky and highly sensitive. Employees play a key role in creating emotional connections with the customers in a physical set up of a retail store. The current employees should be able to anticipate the needs of the customers and should be able to reach out to them even before being asked. A customer centric culture practiced and advocated by leadership and a focused training becomes imperative to boost the customer experience to the desired level. Customer related data like preferences, mindset and transaction history prepares customer service agents to provide a personalized and warm customer experience.
‘Stay updated or get lost’ is the new mantra to thrive in the competition. Retailers can make use of the latest in technology. Alternative customer support channels like chatbots, self-service, customer service through social media, etc are gaining popularity. The latest chatbots can read the customer’s mood and feelings and know when to transfer to a live human assistant available. By applying the latest in technology, retailers can provide everything at the fingertips of the customer. The customer need not stand in lines for check outs, they can just grab the product and the billing will be done at the retailer’s end automatically. BigData provides the much-needed information to the retailers that can create a personalized experience to the customers. They expect their digital coupons updated to their account, they want to avail all the latest promotions and discounts without being told to them. AI is replacing the all the possible human contact with the customers and customers today expect the retailers to be updated with the latest in technology like enhanced digital shopping experience. They key is maintain the right balance between automation and human element as not to loose the emotional connect.
Most of the businesses believe that they know what the customer think about their organization. According to SerenaWay study related to customer experience, 82% believe they are delivering a superior experience. This is compared to only 9% of customers who believe they are receiving a great customer experience. Hence, it is important to stay updated with the customer’s expectations and reviews related to the organization. Customers do not like to be bothered much these days, so be sensitive in obtaining the feedback and customers get hurt when the organizations do not take the given feedback seriously. Hence, not just taking feedback, organizations need to act on the feedback and have to let the customer know that their feedback was taken seriously and necessary action has been taken. Closing this loop on feedback is very important and it encourages customers to be vocal. Feedback can be collected through several channels, like social media, mobile apps, emails, wireframes, etc. but it is important that the organization consider the customer’s preference in the channel of communication.
An emotionally connected customer, who is well engaged by the business with the technology and human efforts is more prone to return and bring more business to the organization.