In an era of instant gratification and one-click services, customers have high expectations and little patience. It’s up to retailers to provide exemplary customer experience (CX) for consumers, and today’s companies have much room for improvement, especially within their digital platforms.
It’s no secret the retail industry is in a bit of a transitional period. E-commerce leader Amazon.com has a lot of retailers concerned about the industry’s future. But while many are concerned with the alleged “retail apocalypse,” companies may need to look at the digital experience they're providing their customers with rather than attempting to play catch up to Jeff Bezos’ brainchild.
When it comes to their shopping experience, today’s customers have a list of demands. They want it fast; they want it personalized; they want it to go where they go. More than ever before, consumers are shopping for products across channels, and they expect each one to provide seamless transactions and immediate opportunities for feedback. Retailers aren’t necessarily living up to the demand, however.
As it turns out, companies are losing more customers than expected as the result of poor online CX. A new report from Medallia, surveying 3,000 consumers across the U.S., U.K. and Australia, suggests this could be a result of brands’ inability to be anywhere their customers are at any time.
However, many of the these frustrations could — and should — be resolved the instant a customer experiences them. According to the survey, there are a few key findings retailers should take note of in order to best engage their customers and prevent dissatisfaction and loss.
Consumers Want Assistance, and They Want it Now
Consumers can buy any items they want in an instant, whether from their smartphone, laptop or in-store. They want the same ease when giving feedback or asking for help. In fact, the survey found that 79 percent of U.S. respondents expect the ability to contact a customer representative immediately when they need help. And this real-time assistance can benefit both customer and company, as retailers will be able to learn in an instant what’s working and what isn’t.
Consumers Expect Seamless and Convenient Omnichannel Experiences
With so many channels to interact in, it’s imperative that companies engage in real-time conversations to address customer problems the instant they arise. Recently, Medallia customer Electrolux wanted to redesign its website, but in order to understand how to best redesign, the company first needed to learn how online visitors use the existing website. Uniquely gathering feedback in real time allowed Electrolux to target visitors with the right questions to understand how they preferred to use its site. Requesting feedback post site visit may have been too late and could potentially hinder further opportunities for insight.
Additionally, companies need to make giving feedback easy and accessible across channels. The survey found that 66 percent of consumers expect the ability to provide feedback about products and services in the channel they're currently using. Furthermore, 63 percent of customers expect easy transitions between channels as they toggle from smartphone to laptop to in-store pickup.
Consumers Expect Brands to Treat Them as Individuals and Anticipate Their Needs
While consumers want their shopping experience to go off without a hitch, they also want it personalized. According to the survey, three in five consumers would like companies to personalize communications based on what they know about past experiences with the brand, including shopping preferences and return history. An additional 49 percent of consumers would like brands to anticipate their needs and offer help before they need to ask for it themselves.
Consumers have spoken, and it’s clear they want convenient, real-time access to brands across multiple channels. In today’s retail reality, moments are critical, and customers’ experiences are won or lost as soon as they occur. The successful brands will be those that engage with consumers in the right channel, at the right time, in order to provide a seamless overall experience.
Emma Sopadjieva is head of research at Medallia, an enterprise customer experience management platform.
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Emma leads Medallia’s Research Practice and is responsible for developing insights and frameworks that define how companies will win in the future through customer experience. Prior to Medallia, she was a consultant for over five years in Deloitte’s Financial Advisory practices in the US, the UK and Spain. She has an MA in international economics and management from the School of Global Policy and Strategy at UCSD, and a BS in business administration and management from Bucknell University.