To remain competitive, today's retailers need to embrace both a data-centric business strategy and a consumer centric mindset.
Data allows retailers to identify, track and understand their customers at a deeper, more personal level, increasing their relevance, customer engagement and, of course, revenue.
An interactive, ever-evolving knowledge database about individual customers before, during, and after a transaction, is crucial to delivering a seamless and valuable customer experience, an experience which:
- Educates customers so that they know how to get the most from a service or product.
- Builds a rapport with customers to make them feel valued and like their needs are important.
- Handles problems or complaints promptly.
- Ensures customers have a satisfactory experience and offers other potentially relevant services to extend the customer relationship.
Customers want to believe that a retailer’s concern for them goes beyond getting into their wallets. Customer data can help, enabling a business to demonstrate authentic concern for the customer, resulting in stronger customer relationships, better retention, and more referrals. Here’s why.
1/ Don’t assume price is most important
Cost is certainly a consideration for consumers but various studies indicate that it is not the most decisive factor. American Express, for example, finds that 7 in 10 Americans are willing to spend more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service. And Defaqto Research reports that more than half (55%) of consumers will pay more to ensure a superior customer experience.
Clearly, consumers are seeking the best value from businesses, value which includes not just price but – importantly – a high level of service. Listening to your customers will enable you to gather valuable insights into how your customers are interacting with—and feeling about—your product and support. Working with this feedback, you can make sure you are delivering a customer experience that is worth your their time and money.
2/ Be more helpful
SmallBusinessTrends reports findings from a recent study which indicates that the number one reason why more than one-third (34%) of consumers voice a complaint is poor customer service, with rudeness, bad attitude, lack of knowledge, and delays the most common, specific reasons for these complaints. And the impact these grievances have on a retailer cannot be overstated: 90% of consumers admit they are influenced by online reviews.
With customer experience an increasingly important differentiator (and, according to many, the single most important differentiator), retailers must make a long-term commitment to delivering the support customers want and need. This requires regularly gathering customer knowledge, measuring the support you offer from your customers’ point of view.
3/ Provide a seamless multichannel experience
PWC finds 86% of US consumers usually shop across at least two channels. Moreover, 88% of US shoppers research a product online before buying and 73% research online specifically when buying clothing, footwear, toys, and health and beauty products. And this online research doesn‘t just lead to online purchases; often times, it is a critical step in a larger journey, leading to purchases via other channels.
Therefore, retailers must be adaptive and agile with today’s technology, embracing customer demand for a multichannel shopping experience. Customers are increasingly shopping across a variety of channels – brick and mortar, website, mobile app – even using a variety of channels to complete just a single purchase. To provide a seamless experience, you must clearly understand customers’ preferred channels and have the ability to synchronize multiple databases (customer, sales, inventory, financial) in order to provide a friction-free experience.
4/ Personalize, personalize, personalize
Personalization is everything in today’s retail environment. For example, nearly three-fourths (74%) of online consumers express frustration with irrelevant communication (offers, ads, promotions). Therefore, it should come as no surprise that personalized email communication delivers six times higher transaction rates than do email blasts or that MyBuys reports 40% of consumers buy more from retailers who can personalize communication across all channels.
To successfully personalize the customer experience, retailers must understand the importance of customer segmentation. Customer segmentation refers to the process of using customer data to create a clustering of customers with shared attributes. Communication can then be customized to say different things in different ways according to the specific wants and needs of each customer group. This will enable you to deliver greater value to your customers who are more likely to feel their needs and interests are being specifically addressed.
Overall, customers are looking for value to be clearly demonstrated, value which reflects the right balance of price, product, and service tailored to fit their needs. They prefer to buy products from companies who understand them and are able to clearly demonstrate that understanding. And to earn customer loyalty, businesses must constantly meet their expectations – delivering the right products at the right time via the right channels.