Giving your customers a great shopping experience every time they come to you, is by far the most delicate task you can have on your hands. Customer experience management has emerged as a whole new concept and businesses are no longer ignoring its importance, because happy customers are the one thing that will ensure your business success.
Keeping your customers happy, however, is easier said than done. It’s a job that takes the perfect mix of skill, research and technology. Most of all, it takes a complete shift in attitude, from profit-first to customer-first. In the process of doing so, you will face some unique challenges, as customer experience isn’t an exact science. You need to understand what your customers expect, and make sure they get just that, every time.
So let’s take a look at the three central challenges you will face in the process of giving your customers a great experience.
1. Make a customer-first attitude ubiquitous
For years, employees have been trained to go after the customer, close the deal and bring in the numbers. This entire regimen now needs a deep-pore cleansing. Earlier, you may have had protocols in place for rewarding employees based on speed of handling and number of sales closed.
Now though, you have to change the focus to effectively resolving customer issues and going the extra mile to make a customer happy.
This might cause your staff some conflict at first, as it will affect their average handling time and reduce their efficiency. Re-training them about the concept of efficiency and overhauling your rewards and appreciation metrics will help you create a customer-first culture.
Zappos is the one online retailer that is most often lauded for their customer service. The company generates $1billion in revenue from clothing and accessories alone and spends zero money on advertising. Instead, they can rely on a loyal customer base as well as word-of-mouth, as a result of their exceptional customer service.
Here, you can read some of the amazing Zappos customer service stories: 10 Inspiring Zappos Customer Support Stories
Although not every company can take customer service to such extremes, it’s definitely worth and wise to take a lesson from Zappos to see what is possible.
Conclusion: Employee autonomy – Give your front line staff more leeway to handle customer requests. The customer shouldn’t have to yell ‘Give me your supervisor’ for every request. Make sure your employees understand the value of customer experience and know that change must come from within the company first.
2. Personalize the experience and beware of the creepiness factor
Personalization isn’t a novelty anymore. It’s become a necessity for businesses to offer experiences that are much more convenient and perfectly suited to customers’ wants, so they won’t even consider switching to a competitor. And it’s not as if there was a real choice. Modern shoppers have more options and instant access to information, and they demand more innovative, and personalized products, services, and experiences. In the age of smart customers, personalization is the future of experience.
Many companies struggle to bring their personalization strategies to fruition. Starting with personalization efforts, your company needs to be willing to adjust offerings to the needs of individual customers based on an understanding of what those customers want and need.
When employing personalization strategies, it is also important that you do not to cross the creepiness line as Brendan Witcher, principal analyst with Forrester Research, stressed on the SAP hybris Summit. Personalization is brilliant whenever it provides relevant information to the right people at the right time. However, if you make it a point to show off your tracking skills and technological capabilities, you’ll quickly lose trust. Don’t go personalization-crazy. If it doesn’t not add real value to the customer journey, stay clear.
In a previous article, we have covered 5 ways to deliver personalized experiences
Victoria’s Secret uses Interactive shopping guides (or quizzes) to add a highly need- and consumer-oriented layer of personalization to the shopping experience. They are aimed at making it easier for consumers to pick the right product, while providing educational information to support the buying decision and reassuring them that they are making the right purchase.
Users can answer a series of questions in an engaging step-by-step process. Based on their answers, the guide serves up a list of products that match the shopper’s stated needs and requirements.
It’s not only an effective way for Victoria’s Secret to deliver a more tailored experience, the company is also able to learn more about their customers in the process.
Creating such a Guided Selling solution from scratch may seem very development-intensive. However, with the right technology platform, product finders, just like Victoria’s Secret’s bra guide, can be setup within only a couple of hours.
See how you can create, launch, and optimize your own product finders.
Conclusion: No matter what business you’re in, creating an “ideal” shopping experience that is tailored to the shopper’s specific interests, wants and needs, has become a commonplace. No company can afford to ignore the need for personalization. Those that are best able to deliver, have a significant competitive advantage over those that cannot.
3. Provide a great experience across all touchpoints
Business is no longer happening only one way. Customers can research their purchase on their smartphones, select products on their desktops, and pick items up at the store or vice versa – today’s customer journeys involve many different touchpoints and channels.
There is no one single point of contact. A study by Rawson, Duncan and Jones found that customers do not rate a company based on one experience at one touch point. Instead, they determine their happiness with a business based on their collective experience across multiple touch points over a period of time. You need to make sure all departments are coordinated and your customers are satisfied at all touch points.
Nordstrom an American upscale fashion retailer is focused on creating a seamless” experience for the shopper and determined to be the world’s top omnichannel retailer. They are also said to have the highest sales per square foot performance in the retail industry.
James Nordstrom, President at Nordstrom, describes Nordstrom’s perspective as:
We’ve been focused for a number of years on really trying to create a seamless experience for our customers, whether they’re shopping online or in the store or on their phone, and we’ve made, and we continue to make progress on that. We don’t think the customer is loyal to channels. We don’t hear customers talk about channels very much. Customers value experiences, and so the more successful we’re at in creating a great shopping experience, no matter how they’re choosing to shop, I think the better our business will be.
Katrina Cho shared a great example of her experience at Nordstrom that just shows what Omnichannel and seamless experience really mean from the customer’s point of view and which positive effects it creates for them: How Nordstrom Can Help You Master Omnichannel Marketing
Conclusion: Every step of the customer interaction matters and the customer must receive great service at every stage across all platforms. Having a great selection of products must come with an easy to navigate website, a good price must come with easy checkout, and speedy delivery must come with hassle-free returns – across all touchpoints and devices.
In order to carry this out efficiently, every time, you need to make sure your workforce is extremely well coordinated. You must allow for cross department collaboration so that different channels can communicate with each other to make sure the customers are spared the hassle. Remember calling in to cancel your cable and dealing with an annoying IVR, and then being connected to sales, and then being on hold for hours before you could get through to the cancellations department, which is actually the retention department insistent on giving you a free month so you don’t cancel?
Well, that shouldn’t happen. Ever.
The challenges are many, but entirely worth the effort. Giving your customers a great experience every time will not only keep them loyal, but also make them advocates. You need to
- understand what your customers truly want,
- have the right technology to support you, and
- employ the right professionals who know how to meet the often volatile customer expectations proactively
All that talk about improving your Net Promoter Score (NPS) begins with happy customers. The happier they are, the more likely it is that they will recommend you to their family and friends.
In its essence there’s not so much that has changed compared to the old-fashioned way – the final conclusion is: Keep your customers happy, make it easy for them to shop, exceed their expectation and they’ll stick with you.