With an array of local and global brands to choose from and instant gratification expected, it’s easier than ever for customers to switch brands if they are unhappy. Customer satisfaction and a frictionless and meaningful relationship with your brand should be the driving force behind your customer experience strategy to ensure that you remain competitive.
Let’s look at four important ways to enhance your customer’s journey and ensure that you remain relevant in an ever-evolving retail landscape.
Be where your customers are
Customers expect a seamless shopping experience, regardless of the device or platform they are on. They also want to be able to move between platforms and devices without it negatively affecting their experience.
Do you know if each of your customers prefers WhatsApp, Instagram Messaging, Twitter, email, or Google's Business Messages? Instead of bombarding them with marketing messaging across channels they rarely use, tap into their preferences, and be available on the platforms where (and when) your customers need you.
Employing omnichannel messaging allows customers to communicate directly with your brand across multiple channels, with innovations like in-channel payments enabling them to complete their purchase without leaving their favoured channel. But with the increased adoption of omnichannel retail strategies in an eCommerce environment comes increased workloads and the need for automation.
Automate to innovate
Marketing automation is the future of the eCommerce customer journey and can be the difference between a struggling and a thriving enterprise. As customers demand instant and reliable service on all channels, the pressure is on. Pre- and post-purchase care is critical, and underestimating its value is a costly mistake few can afford to make.
Living up to customers’ expectations while running an efficient operation comes down to knowing which customer journey elements to automate. Thanks to smartphones, consumers expect to be able to access 24/7 support via their channel of choice. The only way to provide this cost-effectively is automation. Providing basic customer service with the help of chatbots will streamline your customer service strategy and free up your customer service agents to focus on more tricky issues.
eCommerce brand Missguided has used this technique to increase efficiency and cut costs. Eleven months after launching a chatbot, engagement with the chatbot reached 80%, reducing service agent contact and costs by 14%.
Optimise your returns and delivery processes
Traditionally, refunds and returns have been painful for consumers and customer service agents. A less than satisfying returns or delivery experience is a guaranteed way to lose customers. Realising the value of repeat business and providing an environment in which customers can experience smooth shopping, returns, and delivery experiences are critical when competing with retail giants.
Here, chatbots can be used to gather user behaviour data and communicate with customers by helping them keep track of orders. And if customers do return an order, a returns chatbot will keep customers up to date with the status of their return at any time of day. These chatbots (especially conversational chatbots that understand natural language and context) also give you access to invaluable user behaviour data.
Offer a hyper-personalised experience
Relevance has never been more critical for retailers. With sophisticated marketing systems allowing hyper-personalisation, customers expect to be exposed to products and services they are likely to be interested in – and actively reject messaging that doesn't resonate.
As more marketing messages are sent to consumers across multiple platforms, consumers are likely to only interact with brands they feel understand their needs. That’s why context and relevance are so crucial in marketing communication. The solution to providing genuinely personalised messaging is a sophisticated data storage system called a customer data platform (CDP).
A CDP is a software solution that gathers and organises data from a wide variety of sources and allows you to automate the segmentation of data to create targeted, personalised and relevant marketing campaigns. With a CDP, you can create reminders or personalised messages for your customers (like birthday messages or ‘back to school’ reminders for busy parents). Key calendar events also become less obtrusive, with targeted alerts delivered to individuals who want to receive them. For example, alerting customers to Black Friday deals they are more likely to be interested in, rather than overwhelming them with all deals. Retailers can use a CDP to reimagine the in-store experience – they could use the platform to identify and target their most loyal high spenders and invite them to a VIP in-store experience.
Dermastore provides a great example of a brand using personalisation well. Thanks to a short Q&A that consumers fill in, personalisation starts from the moment you add an item to your bag and continues until you receive your order. Customers receive a personalised letter and skincare routine, plus free samples based on their skincare routine – no doubt creating loyal customers for life.
The digital era has undoubtedly provided business challenges, but there are far more opportunities for retail and eCommerce businesses. By pro-actively attending to and even pre-empting customer needs in real-time, you’ll improve their overall experience, rather than reducing your efforts to simply reacting to complaints and queries. Using smart technology to get to know and communicate with your customers will allow you to optimise and personalise each customer’s experience at scale – and that’s the secret to an exceptional retail customer journey.