Why Customer Experience is the Future of Marketing for Retailers
You may think of big data, content marketing, mobile or social as being the future of marketing, but it’s the combination of all four that helps retailers make great experiences for customers. In essence, customer experience is the now and future king of marketing in the retail industry — the connection between a positive worker experience and customer experience, and the company-customer relationship made possible by the many facets of marketing.
Deliver an Optimized, Personalized Experience
Customers associate brands with experiences. If your Amazon Prime Now delivery driver shows up at the beginning of the delivery window, you’re thrilled with Amazon as a retailer, not just the driver, not just the same-day delivery of "Taxi Driver" on DVD. Meanwhile, if a designer shirt you won in an eBay auction never shows up and eBay’s customer service rep can’t get in touch with the seller to rectify the situation as soon as possible, you don’t just blame the seller. Face it, you get angry at eBay. In this digital age, customers want things fast. They want to be able to track deliveries up to the moment and get customer support on any device.
Customers want an experience beyond that of the traditional retailer-consumer relationship. They don’t want basic transactions; they want a personalized experience. They won’t shop with retailers that don’t make an effort to know them, and that involves collecting more insightful customer data and making it shareable across your business.
Deepen the Customer Relationship With Data
The next step is a deeper relationship between retailer and customer. Customers believe they have a relationship with your company once they’ve purchased something or engaged with you. With all the data your company collects when interacting with customers — email addresses, promotional in-store coupon codes — it’s reasonable for your customers to believe that the data will be used to more personally and efficiently interact with them. However, most customer data isn’t used to its full potential. Or worse, it’s kept in silos.
If data is collected but doesn’t appear to be used to connect with customers (e.g., immediately recall their account information and transactional history), customers tend to feel exploited. If a retailer collects a customer's personal data, that customer should feel as if it's going to be used to better understand them and facilitate smarter, more personal recommendations and interactions. They also expect retailers they’ve interacted with before to be able to problem solve and deliver on their brand values and promises — one of which is to put their customers first.
The Internet: Our Modern Court of Public Opinion
Scorned customers don’t just tell their close friends about a retailer’s faulty product or flawed delivery; they take to social media to publicly flog a company for its wrongdoings. If retailers don’t provide simple methods of self-service to their customers (e.g., live chat or a customer community portal), or if the representatives in their call centers can’t access information a customer input online mere minutes earlier, they’ll lose out to retailers that invest in those capabilities — retailers that task every employee with optimizing and improving the customer journey at every touchpoint.
Jiordan Castle is the managing editor at Appirio, a global services company that helps create next-generation worker and customer experience using the latest cloud technologies.