“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” [Source]
-Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO, Amazon
Now that you’ve embraced predictive data and have begun personalizing the shopping experience (see The Modern Retail Customer, Part 1), you have your customer’s attention. This is essential in today’s competitive retail environment, where rapid technological advancement has shifted the balance of power into the consumer’s hands. As a result, retailers must move forward from traditional methodologies, instead taking an approach that aims to be more relevant and increase customer intimacy.
That’s no easy task, though. How do you keep your customer’s attention once you have it, optimize their experience, and provide outstanding service across all channels? Start by following four tips for creating an extraordinary buyer experience.
If customers encounter anything other than the path of least resistance, they may take their business to a retailer with a more streamlined process. Digital technologies enable retailers to provide seamless models for order, delivery and pickup, including click-and-collect (ordering merchandise online, then picking it up at the store or another location), self-checkout and ordering with an app. Amazon, for example, provides code-secured lockers where customers can pick up items at a convenient time, and British supermarket chain Tesco offers a collect-from location (e.g., a Tesco van parked in the town center).
After a purchase has been made, returns should be as convenient as possible. Customers should be able to return merchandise to any brick-and-mortar location, regardless of whether they bought online or at a store. Small gestures, such as including a pre-printed return label with online purchases, go a long way toward simplifying the customer experience. It’s essential to reduce the time and energy customers need to spend to contact the retailer.
Shoppers commonly switch between channels to find the best deal before committing to a purchase. A shopper might compare prices online, check out an item at the store, talk about it on social media, read reviews and finally make a purchase through an app-so it’s very important to deliver a consistent experience across channels, including in pricing, promotions, product information, real-time stock availability and delivery information. For example, if a customer abandons a product in an online cart, that detail should be made available to a customer service agent. Then, if the customer calls to inquire about an order, the agent can prompt the customer to purchase that product or offer a coupon for it.
To help shape a particular customer experience, retailers can create personas that represent large segments of customers with similar attributes. Personas provide a foundation for businesses to initiate personalized experiences without relying only on customer-provided information.
Personas can be refined further by considering the customer’s interactions, purchase history, online or in-store browsing behavior, and complaints or compliments in call center interactions. Ideally, retailers should leverage every channel interaction to build and refine a customer profile, creating a unified platform that delivers actionable insights about the customer and drives targeted marketing campaigns.
A major global dairy company leveraged Mindtree expertise to build a 360-degree, integrated view of its customer base across products and channels. Mindtree recommended right-marketing initiatives for a consistent consumer experience, which helped reduce churn by 5%.
In another instance, Mindtree worked with the world’s second-largest car rental company to gain insights that helped it win back dormant customers-and devise marketing campaigns that led to an 800% uplift in ROI.
The final element of customer experience optimization: ensuring a fast, smooth resolution process by leveraging predictive analytics. Retailers should practice first contact resolution-meaning they aim to address a customer’s needs properly the first time they call, so no follow-up is necessary. That’s more likely to happen if customer service agents know and understand the context of the customer’s call proactively. For example, an agent should be able to track a missed delivery with just a name and a postcode, instead of needing to ask for the order number or date. Retailers should also know enough about a customer’s preferences to offer a relevant substitute if a product ordered online is unavailable.
No doubt you’re already working hard to optimize the customer experience and treat customers like invited guests. So what’s the next step? Stay tuned for The Modern Retail Customer, Part 3, to learn about the future of customer service.
To find out more about how to improve the customer experience with digital initiatives, download the Mindtree e-book Are You Living in a Digital Fairy Tale? Make Digital Real.