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It’s Get to Know Your Customer Day – and recent news puts an interesting twist on the event. Open the business pages or trade magazines, and we’re faced with yet another headline about a retailer in difficulties. After a busy summer for House of Fraser and Debenhams, a revitalising rebrand at John Lewis and a 62% profit plunge at M&S, we now have the news that Coast has entered administration. At that’s after a trying year Maplin, Toys R Us, Poundworld and Mothercare, among others. So how do you improve and retain customer satisfaction?
There’s no question that retailers are facing a perfect storm of market pressure, including ecommerce effects, rising rents and unfavourable trading conditions.
But all this raises an interesting question in light of Get to Know Your Customer Day – can retailers buck the trend by looking after their customers better? And what makes a retail customer experience stand out?
Technology itself is no longer a differentiator
As technology evolves, so do customer shopping habits. We’ve seen this in the surge of mobile searching and purchasing. And we’ve seen this in the rise of chatbots, artificial intelligence and messaging apps. Having an intelligent chatbot offering customer service operational 365 days a year and 24 hours a day used to be a differentiator. Now it’s the norm.
So how do go about making your customer experience memorable for the right reasons?
Retailers need a cost-effective way to communicate authentically and personally
We all know that nothing can replace that authentic human touch – that empathy with customers’ feelings and emotions. Having a shop assistant offer valuable advice or going above and beyond with a query makes all the difference when it comes to fostering loyalty (and generating positive word-of-mouth marketing).
The challenge comes in scaling that personal approach. Despite the wealth of customer data retailers have at their fingertips, it’s not easy to get personalisation right. Mass sales and promotional messages (even with a personalised greeting) aren’t delivering the right ROI. For example, as Black Friday has evolved, 36% of consumers say they’re no longer interested in generic promotions offered on the day.
Siloes are preventing retailers from delivering a truly personalised experience
Heineken recently admitted that they don’t understand their customers well enough to succeed online – the Dutch brewing company says lack of shared data, collaboration and targeted investment is holding back its ecommerce ambitions.
The difficulties stem from the growing number of data sources involved in delivering a multi-channel experience. If your CRM, customer service database, email system and chatbot don’t connect, there’s a limit to how personalised you can be.
You need to bring data together quickly and easily – without having to undergo the pain of a complete IT overhaul. The starting point is to map your customer journey, so you understand what data is gathered at each touchpoint. Then you can look at what data sources need to connect and how you can integrate them to enable true personalisation.
For example, can your automated personal stylist service then integrate with your loyalty programme and promotional emails, so that customers get offers linked to what experts say suits them? If customers are near a store, can they get push notifications with a stock update on an item they’ve viewed online?
These are examples of the scalable personalisation we’re aiming for – and data connectivity and collaboration are the key.
Connected data leads to comprehensive reporting
In our recent blog, we talked about how the CMO’s role is evolving from opinion to data-driven decision making. Connecting data across the customer experience – in essence, having a customer experience hub – means you have the evidence to make informed decisions that have a positive, measurable impact.
And that’s what Get to Know Your Customer Day is all about – having that true understanding of who your customers are and how you can help.
Take the next step and download our retail whitepaper – ‘Tear down siloes and connect with customers at every touchpoint’ – for a practical guide on how retailers can win both online and in-store.