5 Steps Retailers Can Take to Achieve ‘Constant Connectedness’
Retailers thrive on making personal connections with their customers. Their ability to create and leverage these connections directly impacts their ability to rise above the clamor of the marketplace and differentiate themselves from the competition.
Emotional connections, in particular, drive customer experiences with brands, transforming mere “purchasers” into committed brand advocates. Since relatively few retailers can compete on price alone, customer connections and differentiated customer experiences are primary concerns, driving retailers to carefully listen to the “voice of the customer” and focus their efforts accordingly.
But many retailers are struggling to keep up with consumers who live in the emerging world of constant connectedness. Technology has given consumers tools to forge instant connections with brands and with other users to communicate good (and bad) experiences. Unless they learn how to sufficiently navigate these communication channels, retailers will increasingly find themselves excluded from conversations that are essential for creating rich customer experiences and achieving bottom-line success.
It's still early, but consumers are beginning to use social media and mobile technologies as channels for forging and maintaining connections with their favorite brands, and for sharing brand-related conversations with the people in their online networks. There's a huge opportunity for brands to play an increasingly important role in the social media lives of their customers, and this is evidenced by an increased level of investment among retailers.
But in order to maximize the impact of their investments, retailers need to learn how to participate in these conversations. It involves looking at current practices and the experiences they offer customers. These are categorized in five primary steps:
- Listen. Do you listen to your customers often enough and through the channels in which they prefer to communicate?
- Understand. Do you have a clear understanding of the things customers really value about their experiences with your brand, and know what drives loyalty?
- Engage. Are your employees equipped with the right tools and information they need to positively impact the customer experience and to engage shoppers while they're in your stores?
- Nurture. Have you given your employees the tools they need to “save a sale” by understanding key elements of the shopping experience?
- Mobilize. Are you creating consumer advocates and making it easy for them to influence other consumers via social media?
For retail employees, a constantly connected approach begins with embracing a more collaborative working culture that produces a higher service level for consumers. Instead of relying on top-down collaborative strategies, mobile online interactions can be used to nurture relationships with employees through immediate online recognition of on-the-job excellence and positive customer feedback.