‘Retailagility’: Exceeding Changing Customer Expectations
The customer expectation is changing and developing lasting relationships with clients is only getting harder. Much is being written about customer loyalty, but many programs are still missing the mark. Until now, customer experience best practices have focused on product differentiation, special offers and customer service. However, most of these practices don't change or adjust to the customer at the point of interaction, and aren't personalized to their individual needs.
Going forward, best practices will shift significantly toward providing information and assistance during or before the moment of purchase decision. According to a recent Experian Data Quality survey, 90 percent of retailers believe that by 2020, the majority of purchase decisions will be influenced by customer data. To deliver such quickly actionable information effectively requires a great deal of agility — "retailagility" — to have personalized campaigns and offers ready to meet and exceed customer expectations as they develop.
The challenge isn’t just to deliver a great and consistent experience across all of your different channels. The bigger issue is keeping up with customer expectations as they morph and change with every technological advancement and competitive move.
We need look no further for an example of customer expectations changing than their use of mobile devices. Many consumers use their mobile device for shopping research — e.g., price comparisons, delivery options. In addition, some consumers are now paying for purchases via their phone with services like Apple Pay. Mobile payments are particularly popular with millennials.
The proliferation of mobile devices is a key challenge for retailers. Retail technologies such as in-store beacons, texted sale codes, mobile applications, etc., offer connection points. However, simply pushing notifications to consumers each time they walk by a location can be not only irrelevant but also intrusive. By using data effectively to better target relevant offers and make improvements based on user interaction, brands are working to create a more positive, personalized experience.
While technology and data are empowering retailers, they're also challenging them. Consumer expectations are increasing. Retailers need to use the information they have responsibly, and personalize the shopping experience to meet growing customer expectations. Customers are willing to share their information, but they expect the retailer to give them something in return — i.e., a better experience. This is where retailagility comes in.
To be agile, retailers need up-to-date and accurate customer data as a starting point, with as complete a profile of each customer as possible. While retailers are collecting more information than ever before, it's often siloed within systems that manage individual channels. Having varied collection techniques also introduces a significant degree of inaccuracy. According to the same Experian Data Quality study, retailers on average estimate that 34 percent of their customer and prospect data is inaccurate. Without accurate, accessible customer information, retailers are left unable to understand their customer on a basic level, much less personalize interactions as quickly as the customer interacts with the brand.
The world is changing rapidly, as are customer expectations. Savvy retailers are building their retailagility capability to meet or exceed customers’ expectations at the moment of decision. To do it requires a very strong focus on data acquisition, quality and management.
Courtney Cunnane is vice president of marketing at Experian Data Quality, a company that offers a full range of contact data management solutions.