Three Customer Experience Tips To Improve Loyalty
Forrester has released its Customer Experience Benchmark results for 2015, and while e-commerce does well, the segment’s brick and mortar brethren are a bit behind the eight ball.
It should be noted that Forrester has changed the way it judges CX excellence. To rank at the top of the pack, the 299 brands studied were required to demonstrate they had designed and delivered a customer experience that created and sustained customer loyalty. That makes sense; after all, loyalty is a dynamite way to prove consumers like a business. Repeat customers are retail gold.
Another change impacted retailers directly: Forrester split the retail industry into two groups – those with physical stores and those without. Retailers without stores (“digital-only retailers”) remained in the lead, beating out hotels and parcel shippers for the top spot. However, those with stores fell multiple places in the industry standings.
Forrester elaborates on that finding in its report. But it is worth considering in what the e-commerce experience is proving better than other industries, as well as physically present retailers. A few lessons, then, that we can discern:
- Personalized attention. You might say this is a no-brainer for brick
and mortars. But being in the same place as a customer does not necessarily mean the sales associate knows what to do. Shoppers’ complaints run the gamut from feeling “creeped out” from too much attention, or “neglected” by a too-aloof approach. Online retailers often send a “thanks for shopping” email that provides an acknowledgement of the transaction, and, if timed correctly, brings the retailer to the top of a shopper’s mind. When was the last time, if ever, a physical store sent out such a missive? The relationship does not end when the shopper leaves; it’s just beginning. While the advantage of having a physical salesperson interact appropriately with customers is clear, it’s a double-edged sword: No one claims to feel “ignored” by an online retailer. The onus is much greater on a physical store to understand how your customers shop. Which brings us to:
- Know your customers. All that data you are collecting needs to be analyzed and put to work. Who is shopping and when? What are they buying? Did someone help them? How did they pay? All that information is critical in learning how to best serve the customer, and to connect with them, with the goal of nurturing a repeat customer. Online retailers are expert at this, culling information, using analytics tools to decipher it and then employing that knowledge to drive traffic. Special offer emails are great examples; retail powerhouse Amazon uses data collected from a customer’s shopping history to send specific offers tailored to their interests. Brick and mortars can do the same.
- Make it easy. If a customer has a problem, how easy is it to rectify it? What is your return policy? Can a shopper use multiple payment methods? This should be a simple point of distinction for many brick and mortars, but isn’t necessarily. Shoppers do not want to be challenged, for example, when making a return. Does it really matter that the shopper wanted to think she’s a size 4 but turns out she’s an 8? No one wants to face an inquisition at any point while shopping. Focus on the “1-click” mindset: The shopping experience, whether leisurely or a strategic strike, should be dictated by the customer, but the transactional part is controlled by the retailer. Make that quick and painless and it will complement any customer-directed experience you provide.
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