Getting customer experience right in retail is a big deal.
It’s the reason why Amazon and other eCommerce companies have been able to grow so quickly. It's the reason why we've seen customer-centric D2C brands expand during the pandemic. And it’s the reason why your brand will fly or fail in the coming years.
But what exactly do consumers want? How can retailers ensure they deliver on their expectations? And what are the best CX strategies for success in 2022?
In this article, you’ll learn the five key strategies and trends that will deliver great CX in your business.
But first, let’s run through what CX is, and why it matters so much to retailers.
What Is Retail Customer Experience (CX)?
In general terms, customer experience refers to the interaction between customers and a retail organization or brand. This includes everything from product selection to service delivery to aftercare support. But it doesn't just apply to physical locations; it applies to digital channels like your website, mobile app, and social media platforms.
In other words, customer experience spans every customer touchpoint.
Why Does Customer Experience Matter So Much In Retail?
Aside from the reasons put down in the introduction, improving customer experience has become increasingly important over the past few years. Particularly as more of us shop online.
Here are some stats to support why CX is so important to retail brands.
According to Accenture research, nearly half of all adults say they would be less likely to shop at a store because of a poor experience. That number jumps significantly among millennials who cite poor experience as the top reason they won't return to a particular store.
To add to this, a research-led report from Glance revealed that 78% of customers have backed out of buying due to a poor customer experience.
Zendesk research also suggests roughly 50% of customers say they would switch to a new brand after one bad experience, with 80% of consumers saying they would rather do business with a competitor after experiencing poor CX.
So, clearly, consumer experience matters in retail.
If people aren't happy with your products, services, or the experience that underpins them, then they're not going to buy from you. And if they don't buy your products, you're not going to deliver growth. Growth that ends up driving revenue for your competitors.
So, what can we do to make sure that doesn’t happen? Here are five key things to focus on and consider in the coming year.
Five Retail CX Strategies You Should Focus on in 2022
1. Empower Your Employees with Data-Driven Decision Making
The most effective way to improve your retail brand's CX strategy is through data analysis and employee empowerment.
That may sound oxymoronic, but combining the two improves customer experience. By giving your employees the data they need to succeed, you empower them, and this leads to better CX outcomes.
By using customer feedback analytics tools such as Chattermill (other tools are available), companies have access to real-time information from every feedback interaction customers have with your brand and products – whether they be positive or negative. And it distils it into meaningful trends that are easy to understand and act on.
As Forrester Research suggests, “the ability to analyze large amounts of data across multiple channels provides organizations with insights into how best to meet consumer needs and expectations.”
Having these insights readily available allows your employees to make better decisions based on actual feedback rather than gut feelings or assumptions. It also helps identify problems before they become major issues.
If your feedback analytics tool is telling you that hundreds of customers every month are having issues with delivery fulfilment, or that there are universal concerns about the environmental impact of your packaging, you know where to improve.
By fixing those problems, you'll build trust among your existing customers, attract more loyal ones in the future, and drive growth.
2. Focus On The Consumer Experience Across Multiple Channels
One of the biggest challenges any retailer faces today is being not just present everywhere your customers expect you to be, but consistently present.
In 2018, Amazon reported that almost 90 per cent of consumers use two or more different devices while shopping. They want to see reviews, compare prices, read descriptions, watch videos, and even chat live with sales associates via video calls.
This isn’t anything new of course. It's been happening since the dawn of eCommerce. What's changed now is that we've entered an era where technology makes it possible for us to do so to a far greater degree.
Today, we can interact with our favourite brands wherever we happen to be. We can get answers without having to wait hours for someone to call back. And we can share our experiences with friends and family members right away.While this is great for the consumer, it’s becoming difficult for brands to achieve consistency across every customer touchpoint. Few brands get this right.And they should. Because as Wunderman Thompson research suggests, 42% of consumers say a seamless experience across all devices and channels is a “top expectation”.
Achieving consistency across your channels should be a key CX strategy.
This is no simple endeavour, of course. The best (and perhaps only) way to achieve this is to bake CX into your business’ entire operations. In 2022, you need to move towards becoming a customer-centric company – not just in name, but in reality.
3. Deliver More Personalised Experiences
Creating personalised experiences is nothing new in the world of CX. We all know that if we’re to attract and retain loyal customers, and deliver growth, our customers’ experience of our brands needs to be both memorable and personal.
The data backs this up. Research conducted by Forrester reveals that 77% of consumers have chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand that provides a personalised service or experience.There are many ways to go about delivering personalised experiences. These include using personal names in customer communications, for example. Rewarding customer loyalty is another go-to tactic.The problem is: every successful brand is employing these tactics. And if you’re not, then this is definitely the first thing you should do.
But to deliver personalised experiences memorable enough to turn customers into fans, you need to look beyond these tactics. Leveraging customer data is a good approach.
75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that recognizes them by name, recommends options based on past purchases, or knows their purchase history. (Accenture)
The only way you can achieve this and deliver personalised, memorable experiences is by leveraging your existing customer data – information on previous purchases, conversations, tracking, and CLTV, for example.
To access this data you must look to use customer service software that can collect this data from multiple channels, and present it quickly and clearly to your customer support and service teams.
4. Use Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning To Improve Your CX Strategy
Artificial intelligence and machine learning have already transformed many industries over the past few years. Today, we’re now seeing great leaps forward in the world of CX.
AI systems (like the NLP technology that underpins Chattermill) can analyze vast quantities of free text from reviews, surveys, and other customer interactions at scale to decipher patterns in what your customers are saying. It then presents meaningful insights into customers’ preferences and behaviours.
As a CX leader, this enables you to spot trends, make informed decisions about what to improve in your business, and deliver better CX.
This technology can also be applied to customer support interactions, which is something we’ve recently introduced at Chattermill.
By combining the two sets of insights from customer support interactions, and customer feedback (whether these are from Trustpilot, NPS surveys, chatbots, or app store reviews), CX leaders can use this new AI-powered technology to give a complete, holistic oversight that delivers a more proactive CX strategy.
For 2022, this is a strategy that all CX leaders should consider.
5. Ditch the Surveys, Embrace Predictive Analytics
A recent McKinsey report on The Future of CX published in February 2021 suggested that predictive analytics may take over from traditional survey-based approaches to CX.
This is a huge potential change in our industry. After all, as McKinsey suggests, 93% of CX leaders currently measure the CX success using survey-based metrics like Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) and Customer Effort Score (CES).
So what’s the issue with the survey-based approach to CX?
Well, the report reveals that just 16% of CX leaders that believe the current approach think it allows them to uncover root causes of performance.Does this mean we’ll all flock towards predictive analytics in 2022?
Things are definitely moving in this direction, but in my mind, it’s still debatable whether the quantitative data from predictive analytics systems is really enough to fully understand our customers. As we all know as CX leaders, qualitative data is important.
A combination of both is key. A blend of predictive analytics and analysis of qualitative data collected through real-world customer interactions (whether they be from customer support or customer feedback) is where the real intelligence lies.
And to the 84% of leaders who believe that a form-based approach to CX doesn’t yet uncover the root causes of CX performance, we’d suggest looking at the approach discussed in the previous section. Speak to any of our customers and you’ll see there’s deep customer intelligence in support and feedback data if you use the right tech!
The importance of CX for retailers can’t be overstated. In the coming years, brands that fail to improve will fail to grow. It’s as simple as that.
But we need to move beyond what we’ve done in the past if we’re to take things to the next level. We need to be forward-looking, and better than our competitors.
Looking at the five strategies we’ve put down in this article is a solid place to start. Doing so will empower your employees, give you new insights into your customers’ preferences and behaviour, and ultimately deliver better CX.
Of course, these aren’t the only strategies. You still need to get the basics right, after all. But they’re a mighty good place to start.