5 Things Leading Brands Do to Create World-Class Customer Experiences
The key to retailer success was once very simple: provide the lowest prices on the products people wanted. Times have changed. Today’s consumer has multiple shopping options and several ways to make a purchase. It’s no longer just about the best deal; it’s about the customer experience (CX).
We live in an experience economy. Making your customers the focus of your business isn't a competitive advantage; it’s become a basic business requirement. The challenge for retailers is, how do you create loyal customers?
Here are five strategies that elite retailers leverage as CX leaders:
1. Seamless Omnichannel Experiences
Today’s consumers are being bombarded with online and offline brand touchpoints. A good or bad experience in any single channel can easily win or lose a life-long customer.
Consumers have a low tolerance for bad experiences encountered at any given touchpoint, so retailers can’t afford to risk ignoring the details that make up the customer journey. Elite companies put significant time and resources into understanding how their customers experience their brand across all touchpoints and channels to ensure a positive outcome.
2. In-Person Experiences Still Count
The growth of digital has had a big impact on retail. According to a February 2019 report by the U.S. Commerce Department, the total market share of “non-store,” or online U.S. retail sales was higher than general merchandise sales for the first time in history.
Despite the growing shift to the digital world, customers still care about in-store experiences. A survey from Google/Ipsos found that 60 percent of consumers would rather buy from brands that had a physical presence over those only available online.
The desire by consumers to still experience a hands-on shopping experience presents retailers with an opportunity. Retailers that focus on creating an enjoyable and memorable in-store customer experience are more likely to drive higher brand loyalty and repeat customers.
3. Focusing on Personalized Experiences
Low prices are not the driving factor in the retail world. According to a PwC survey, 86 percent of consumers are willing to pay more if it means they’ll have a better experience.
Customers want to feel heard and have personalized shopping experiences that not only bring them back again and again, but share those experiences with others. Expectations will vary when it comes to smaller-ticket items, like a shirt or pair of pants, compared to a much more tailored approach for large-ticket items, such as a new car or home.
4. Making Meaningful Connections Between Your Employees and Customers
Improving the CX a company provides begins with a cultural change. It requires a companywide commitment and sense of ownership for customer experience by every employee.
A Temkin Group study revealed that companies delivering great CX have employees who are 1.5X more engaged than those with less satisfactory CX.
How do companies develop an engaging environment for their employees? The key is to provide employees with the tools and context required to make an authentic connection with customers. This helps create a heightened sense of empathy and improved engagement.
5. The Power of Emotional Connection
According to Forrester’s 2019 CX Index, emotion plays a strong role in customer loyalty. Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman even went so far as to say that 95 percent of purchasing decisions are driven by emotion.
Nike's commercial during the 2019 Women’s World Cup is a great example of creating an emotional connection with the brand. The ad elicited strong reactions from viewers and soon went viral. While it was clearly a Nike ad, it wasn’t specifically advertising anything Nike was selling, but rather focused on people, and the powerful emotions that we experience throughout life. The power of a positive emotional connection and experience is undeniable, and studies have shown that consumers want more of it.
Successful retailers understand the importance of nurturing a relationship with their customers, which requires trust, reliability and an emotional connection.
In today’s retail world, simply saying you offer a great customer experience isn’t enough. You have to prove it every day, with a carefully devised, ongoing plan that helps everyone in the organization think about the customer first and create great customer experiences.
Janelle Estes is chief insights officer at UserTesting. In that role, she is responsible for stewarding the future of human insight and setting the tone for the company’s thought leadership.