In the ‘Age of the Customer’ more organisations are recognising the need to build customer-centric businesses. What does this mean, and what mistakes should retailers avoid making?
Forbes has reported that 75 percent of companies named their top objective as improving customer experience, while another study found that 59 percent of customers who had a poor brand experience wouldn’t return, with the majority seeking out a competitor.
The retail evolution from bricks-and-mortar to digital brings its own unique challenges in meeting consumer demands, with one study reporting that nearly half of consumers felt the products they bought online rarely met their expectations and they would usually or always return items.
Customers want products and services that meet or exceed expectations and ultimately make their life easier. They want it to work. They want to get what they’ve bought in a timely and efficient manner. Retailers who can’t deliver on time, to the desired location, have product out-of-stock or hefty delivery charges are starting to suffer.
There is currently a lot of talk about digital transformations. Every second article from large IT consultancies are explaining why this is a game changer for retailers. To a certain extent this is undoubtedly true, but digital design is expensive and can be fraught when things go wrong and the seamless journey it promises fails to materialise. You don’t need to look too far to see that retailers are suffering as each month goes by. They are losing the ability to heavily invest in a brand new backend technology platform as a silver bullet to return them to growth.
Instead, the retailers we are talking to are looking for pragmatic solutions that will move the needle on their business both across their stores and online by better understanding their prospective customers and offering them an easier more compelling journey.
While an increasing number of retail businesses are investing in CX, there are some critical mistakes being made:
Failing to Meet Your Customers When and Where They Want to Engage With You
Convenience and presence are key. Being available to your customers whenever and wherever they want to interact with you is one thing. Properly integrating these channels to work together and provide a seamless experience for the user is another.
Investing in Shiny New Tech Before Delivering a Quality Service
While it is tempting to create a new platform or app to wow customers if you aren’t answering the phone, processing refunds quickly and generally managing the basics first, there is no need to confuse the customer with yet another means to interact. Make sure the channels you have are working efficiently first.
Failing to Value the Employee Experience Equal to Customer Experience.
Whether your employees are bricks-and-mortar sales people or are picking and packing for delivery, they need to be able to understand and empathise with your customer to deliver the best possible service. When redesigning your business to be more customer-centric, ensure they are brought on this journey. They are the ones delivering to your customers every day and need to be involved in the redesign process.
Remember that brand is the promise you make; customer experience is the promise you keep. From the first interaction to the final engagement, customers are forming perceptions of your brand and business and in 2019 when all your competitors are investing in CX, you can’t afford not to. When customer expectations aren’t met, brands collapse.