Customer experience in retail
APRIL 14, 2021
It is a fact that the backbone of retail has always been physical sales, having customer experience being correlated with the corresponding physical elements and touchpoints. As the world of retail is evolving through e-commerce, retail customer experience has also evolved.
The spanning across physical and digital touchpoints to ensure customer needs are being met wherever customers choose to interact with the brand.
Retail deals with both products and services. While products are consumed, services are experienced. This distinction is simple but important to understand to be successful in retail today. The customer is the most important piece of the puzzle in a retail business, and not without reason.
Let’s see below how Customer Experience unfolds across the retail customer journey and suggest some tips for improving the retail customer experience at each touchpoint.
Loyalty: Providing the best customer experience is the only way to gain loyal customers. Loyal customers are, without a doubt, the backbone on which retail businesses survive; increasing customer retention by 5% improves your sales by 25-95%, depending on the industry.
How to identify the customers that are loyal to the brand?
There are a few metrics that are frequently used by retail businesses, such as the likelihood of a future purchase, identifying a brand as superior to your competitors in surveys, and the willingness to recommend the brand’s services to others, all of the factors that can help assess the lifetime value of a customer.
The importance of customer loyalty for retail businesses can be broken down into two main components: reducing costs and word-of-mouth marketing. Harvard Business Review estimates that getting a new customer is five to twenty-five times more expensive than retaining an existing one.
How to achieve this? By providing a memorable experience for customers, so that they are likely to return regardless of incentives like loyalty programs; it’s the personal customer experience that builds brand loyalty.
Word-of-Mouth Marketing: Customer loyalty results in more effective word-of-mouth marketing. Satisfied customers help you gain more new customers through recommending your store. The thing is, customers almost universally seek recommendations of their friends and family to decide which retail outlet to visit. In fact, 84% of consumers act upon such recommendations. If you play your CX cards right, each customer can bring in tens of new potential visitors. As your number of satisfied customers increases, this has an exponential effect on your marketing — word of mouth has been shown to improve marketing effectiveness by up to 54%.
Understanding the customer experience: Customer experience is no longer an additional thing to keep in mind when developing a business plan — it is a part of the business plan and it’s a never-ending process, as almost half of the consumers stop shopping with a brand after two poor customer experiences, regardless of whether they are loyal customers or not.
Reducing wait time : Winning over new customers while retaining your existing ones is a tough battle, but being prepared is half the battle won. Getting rid of long lines is a nice first step in securing loyal customers. Improving customer experience in lines with a queue management system means not only reducing wait times but also facilitating impulse purchases. On a personal level, it also shows the level of your care towards your visitors. Another benefit to using a line management system is all the customer data you get out of it — data that can be used to further smoothen out the rough patches in your customer experience strategy.
Omnichannel retail makes products and services more accessible: Brick and mortar, or digital? Both, as retails brands will have to reach customers with both physical and digital presences with an omnichannel approach; retail powerhouses are now harnessing the power of e-commerce and app-based marketplaces to serve their customers safely and make their products and brand as accessible as possible.
Measuring digital retail customer experience: Digital retail is all about convenience and nowadays, safety and aims to put the consumer in total control of their journey. Digital retail can be regarded as a series of connected web or app experiences that allow consumers to interact with brands and make a purchase.
Measuring CX during a customer’s digital journey can be done with a few different survey methodologies, typically delivered via web, email, SMS text, and link:
- Net Promoter Score (NPS): This measures customer loyalty by asking how likely they are to recommend your brand, product, or service, aiming to identify the promoters that could further influence marketing, sales, and other business decisions.
- Customer Satisfaction (CSAT): This method helps understand how satisfied customers are with the brand, or products and services provided and these surveys are useful for making product enhancements when satisfaction scores for some products or services falls low.
- Customer Effort Score (CES): Customer effort is a key driver of customer satisfaction and loyalty. Customer effort measures the effort for your customers to accomplish their sought-out intent. Basically, CES can provide information as a slow online checkout process, a hard-to-reach CS, or an item return.
Measuring customer experience for physical stores. Those same feedback collection strategies for digital can also apply to physical retail stores and there are a few survey delivery methods that are suited for in-store feedback, such as:
Kiosk: A survey kiosk for customers to leave in-person feedback before they even exit the store, with an easy-to-navigate interface, typically loaded on a large touch screen or portable tablet that can be sanitized between uses.
Email: Email is another popular method for brick and mortar retailers to solicit feedback from their customers and ideal for touchless surveying. While kiosk has an incredibly low barrier to completion, email requires retailers to collect their customers’ emails at some point during their shopping journey.
While collecting feedback may not be as instantaneous as a survey kiosk, some benefits of using email to deliver a survey include optimal timing, as some consumers need time to use the product consistently to leave an accurate review of it, as well as deeper customer segmentation, as emails are tied to a specific customer record.
Link: Distributing CX surveys by link is by far the most flexible method of contact-free delivery in that you can add a survey link to almost any customer touchpoint, both physically and digitally. For retail stores, survey links are usually added to things like receipts, posters, or in-store displays.
Measuring retail customer experience delivered by employees Employees are the backbone of the retail industry. Whether brands operate entirely online, or with a combination of digital and physical marketplaces, the human element of retail is essential for success.
Measuring the relationship between customer experience provided by employees and customer satisfaction can be also done with the same survey methodologies and delivery mechanisms noted above, as:
- CSAT: a method to gain insight into how satisfied your customers are with the service provided by an employee.
- Thumbs: a binary method to capture whether or not help provided by an employee was satisfactory or not.
- 5-star: collect feedback on an employee by asking customers to rate his/her performance in a quick, familiar way.
- Smileys: gain instant insight into customer sentiment with a universally understood method for gathering experience feedback. “How satisfied were you with the support provided today by Sharon?”
Trends on improving retail customer experience
Put people, their experiences, and their needs first. This is and will continue to be the biggest trend for retailers trying to improve customer experience and brand perception throughout 2021. Although this may seem counterintuitive considering how digital-heavy an omnichannel approach to retail is, today’s customers, much like those of the past, will expect brands to meet their expectations during every aspect of their shopping journey.
Stay human: “The future of retail CX is human,” says the title of Denise Lee Yohn’s article in Forbes. Becoming more human requires retailers to listen to their customers and collect data on their perception of what’s working and what’s not across all channels: digital, brick and mortar, support, and employee interaction. In fact, listening to the customers digitally and in-person is essential to the success of your business. Using a CX platform to ask customers the right questions, at the right time, is a wonderful first step to establishing an open dialogue. CX surveys can identify both positive and negative customer sentiment and provide the insight needed for retailers to have personal follow-up conversations with their customers.
Upgrade your tech stack: Technology gives retail customers more access to product, company, and competitor information than ever before. In fact, 89 percent of retail customers said having access to real-time product availability information would influence their shopping choices in terms of which stores they would frequent.
Although the use of technology may seem impersonal, integrating the right tech into your business can make it easier to have the “more human” conversations mentioned above. A few tools that retailers can easily deploy to make omnichannel shopping experiences more personal include Social listening tools, Web-based chatbots, Customer experience platforms, and Account-based marketing tools, and web design to quickly provide information customer segments want
The right technology can personalize retailer-customer interactions. Deciding which tools to use begins with listening to your customers and acting on feedback to identify the best-fit solutions for your business. If you’re interested in diving deeper with more tips and tricks on navigating COVID-19 through the power of surveying, check out our back-to-business solutions for immediate action-planning.