Shopping Around: What Drives Recommendations and Loyalty in Retail
Amazon.com gets it. Target and Publix get it, too.
Customers expect a lot from retailers. Not just competitive prices, but personalized online shopping, flexible pickup options and returns, knowledgeable and empathetic in-store and contact-center employees. In short, they expect outstanding customer experience (CX).
Amazon, Target, and Publix recently finished in the top three for customer satisfaction (CSAT) in the new Verint Experience Index: Retail report. Based on consumer survey panel data from more than 12,000 respondents, the Index benchmarks CSAT and Net Promoter Scores® for the top 25 retailers based on revenue. The report also examines key trends and data that drive the digital experience and help shape consumer behavior across digital, stores and contact centers.
Meeting those expectations has to be a top priority for every successful business. According to Gartner, CX drives over two-thirds of customer loyalty, outperforming brand and price combined. The Index backs that up, showing that customers who report having a great experience have a 74 percent higher likelihood-to-recommend-the-brand score, as well as an 85 percent higher likelihood-to-recommend-the-site score.
What Defines Best-in-Class Digital Experience and Engagement Channel Preferences
Four key elements comprise a best-in-class digital experience: navigation (content findability, page layout, links), look and feel (visual appeal, spacing, legibility), site information (relevance, thoroughness, readability), and site performance (speed, complete loading, responsiveness). Amazon ranked highest across the board in all four drivers. Target scored high marks in navigation, look and feel, and site information, while grocery chain Publix scored well against other brands.
When respondents were asked about their channel preferences for researching and purchasing, digital led collectively for both. However, there's a significant shift toward stores when customers move from research to purchase.
- When researching, customers lean heavily toward digital channels at 61 percent, the clear winner over in-store engagement at 21 percent and contact centers with 7 percent.
- When purchasing, digital channels still lead with 45 percent, just slightly better than stores at 43 percent.
Looking at age demographics, baby boomers are the only segment to prefer purchasing in‑store over using a digital channel, 54 percent to 39 percent. While millennials and Gen Z have similar preferences, they're more likely to prefer purchasing digitally over in-store.
All Channels Matter, But Digital Has an Overwhelming Influence on CX
The Verint Index shows that 66 percent of shoppers use more than one channel and multiple touchpoints during their purchase journeys. Furthermore, 76 percent said they visited a store in the previous 30 days, with 46 percent of that group reporting they used their mobile devices as part of their shopping experience.
Digital gets a lot of attention — and rightfully so. However, Index findings reveal that retailers still haven’t tapped into the channel’s full potential to improve customer care and deliver better customer service. Consider that 31 percent of customers contacted a brand’s customer support, and almost half did so because they couldn’t accomplish their task in a digital channel.
Those digital downfalls have a big price tag: By converting just one-quarter of that group to digital self-service, retailers could potentially save $1,057,500 (per 1 million calls).
Business ROI and Customer Loyalty are Up for Grabs
The bottom line for retailers is that CX competitive advantage is there for the taking. Brands that can listen effectively and understand customer needs and problems will have the upper hand. More importantly, they’ll have the attention of customers, who are looking to reward brands for knowing and exceeding their expectations.
Eric Head leads new business efforts for Verint’s Experience Management solutions.
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Eric Head leads new business efforts for Verint’s Experience Management solutions. He is a frequent speaker on customer experience measurement and impact. He earned a B.S. degree (Marketing) from Miami University and an MBA (Strategy & Marketing) from the University of Michigan.