Consumer expectations of brands, whether they sell a product or service and do so online or offline, are higher than ever before. As a result, retailers are faced with the need to improve the customer experience to continue to engage and convert customers.
With digital customer experience now so critical to retail and eCommerce success, it’s time we all get to grips the basics. To coincide with the launch our latest report, ‘A retailer’s guide to digital customer experience’, we’ve picked out 12 essential things every retailer needs to know about the term.
1. It encompasses every interaction with your brand
Customer experience has many facets and spans the entire customer journey, from awareness to post-purchase. Any interaction a customer has with a brand influences their opinion and shapes how they feel about the overall experience.
2. The customer must come first
To design positive customer experiences, you need to put yourself in the shoes of your customer. Customers must hear what they want to hear, not only what the brand wants them to. They also expect a certain standard from brands they interact with, a standard which is constantly evolving with exposure to new trends and technology. As a retailer, you need to be prepared to offer a level of experience that will meet, if not exceed, these expectations.
3. One size doesn’t fit all
By putting yourself in the shoes of your customer, you’ll realise that each shopper is unique. Each one has different behaviours, needs and goals which should all have an influence over the experience they receive. Retailers need to understand who their ideal customers are and create buyer personas to help identify the key characteristics of these customer groups. With these in place, it becomes easier to deliver more segmented, personalised experiences.
4. All channels are involved - that includes offline
Customers interact with brands across more channels than ever before. As a result, customer experience should be a consideration regardless of device, platform or location. This included in-store, which despite the rise of eCommerce, still accounted for 89.8% of total retail sales in 2017. As a customer jumps from channel to channel, their experience must be seamless. Omni-channel marketing ensures that customers receive the same message, wherever they interact.
5. Data is a fundamental
Understanding data, and more importantly how to use it, is the foundation to great customer experiences. By analysing customer behaviour and trends, be that browsing patterns, purchase history or demographics, you can build a picture of their customers that will allow you to create experiences that are more tailored and relevant for their target audience.
6. Technology plays a major role
With complex customer journeys and high expectations, technology must play a helping hand. Whether it’s from an analysis or delivery perspective, retailers need to engage the right technology to be able to effectively deliver against consumer demands. You should to commit time, resources and finances if you want to prioritise customer experience and develop a strategy and ecosystem that will deliver results.
7. It’s not to be confused with UX
The terms UX (user experience) and CX (customer experience) are often interchanged. Whilst they are linked, user experience is just a small part of the overall CX, relating to a customer’s interaction with your product or service and the experience they receive as a result. UX is commonly referred to in the context of websites and their impact on the digital customer experience.
8. New and existing customers are equally important
When we think about customer experience, the focus often goes to attracting and converting new customers. An outstanding customer experience strategy will focus not only on this, but also on building relationships and loyalty with existing customers, who are often likely to spend more with your brand than new ones.
9. It can improve engagement, conversions and sales
Good experiences build engagement, which is a pre-requisite to converting sales, so retailers must be sure to create an experience that will foster engagement at every stage of the customer journey. With customers who purchase spending on average 156.4 seconds longer on product pages than those who don’t, brands need to create an enjoyable digital experience that will encourage visitors to stay longer on their websites, ultimately encouraging them to convert and purchase.
10. It matters in every sector and every country
Customer experience is global. Retailers across the world are realising the need to improve, and as more brands start to enrich the experiences they offer, they need to be aware of the different behaviours of shoppers in each corner of the world. Take email remarketing as an example. Our data shows that customers in Asia are more receptive to personalisation, whilst those in the Americas are more responsive to discounts and offers. In this case, brands should be considering market preferences when building customer experiences.
11. Getting it right isn’t easy
Customer experience has been a strategic priority for years, yet the majority of brands still believe they have a long way to go. You need to be prepared to constantly evaluate your strategy to make necessary improvements in response to changes in consumer demands and technological advances.
12. Customer experience is here to stay
Customer experience isn’t a short-term trend – it’s here, and it’s here to stay. For those retailers who are yet to prioritise it, now is the time to build a plan to ensure that your customer experience strategy is fit for purpose.
For tips and advice on building an effective digital customer experience strategy, download our report, ‘A Retailer’s Guide to Digital Customer Experience’. The guide looks at the benefits for brands that deliver, the risks for those that fail to invest, and strategies retailers should prioritise to optimise online experiences.