Shoppers have come to expect more out of brands, and who can blame them?
The rise of the Customer Experience Economy has forced companies to rethink their customer engagement strategies, and approach shoppers with a clear CX blueprint at the centre of everything they do.
A survey conducted by British payment services provider Barclays found that while 81% of shoppers believed that receiving value for money was important, the experience a brand provides was seen to be just as important.
At Energi HQ, the habits, preferences, and perceptions of consumption are our second language. After sitting down with each member of our team, we’ve pulled together a compilation of the insights and key learnings from our own individual personal experiences. As fluent speakers of all things ‘Shopper’, here’s our advice for creating a memorable customer experience, in the fast-evolving and disruptive world of retail.
1. Spark delight in your customers with a personalised experience.
Whether they’re online or bricks-and-mortar, retail brands that create personalised, immersive, and emotive experiences are undoubtedly the ones that will survive and thrive.
Personalised experiences can be simple, and don’t have to cost the earth. Some of our team’s favourite examples include in-store fashion stylist services, free test products for valued customers, and hand-written cards with delivery. None of these tactics are particularly ground-breaking, but instead, rely on smart acts of personalisation to create a memorable experience.
The richer and more layered understanding of your customer, the better you’re able to provide a richer experience. So, use the power of technology and data to find out more about your customers. Don’t forget people don’t like being treated like a number, but an individual – but where and how to acknowledge and act upon this is ultimately up to you.
Thankfully, there are plenty of affordable analytics tools available to help with customer research. These days, most shoppers understand that a personalised experience is only possible if they share some data about themselves. Just be upfront about how you will use their information, and make sharing their data optional, and most will be willing to share.
Explore the different touchpoints you can personalise and understand your customer’s experience from their point of view. Remember, the best opportunities aren’t necessarily the most complex or expensive. Keep it simple, and you might be surprised by the results.
‘Decoding the New Consumer Mind: How and Why We Shop and Buy’ by Kit Yarrow offers up some great insights into how your customers think. Here’s where you can grab it off Amazon.
2. Make sure your customer experience is frictionless.
Today’s customer expectations are greater than ever before. Thanks to companies such as Amazon, Uber and others disrupting their industry, customers don’t just want; they demand a level of attention that may not reflect the service and experience you provide. With this growth, our expectations for less friction across all touchpoints has also risen. A PwC study found that 42% of customers would happily pay more for a friendly, welcoming experience. In contrast, 32% said they would walk away from a brand after just one bad experience.
Over-complicated or time-consuming purchase processes are one of the Energi HQ team’s biggest turn-offs. Some examples of retail friction included hidden online shopping fees, lack of product education, inability to trust staff for a recommendation, and poorly personalised suggestions. Many brands try to recreate a personalised experience through automation-led technology, but this doesn’t always work in their favour. When used incorrectly, this software can hinder your results and manifest in inaccurate assumptions and overwhelmed customers.
With online shopping in particular, technical efficiencies are everything to ensure a frictionless experience. The fewer clicks it takes to purchase, the more likely customers are to complete a sale. The more they’re bombarded with bots, notifications, and hundreds of emails, the more likely they are to be put off your brand for good.
This friction can be grouped into several categories:
- Time: Why am I on hold for so long? Why is this site taking forever to load?
- Visibility: Can I see where I am in a process? Can I see if my issue is being worked on, or if my package is out for delivery? Visibility = control.
- Identity: Do they really know who I am? How much information do I need to provide for them to validate my identity?
- Consistency: If I contact customer service, will I get the same answer every time?
- Proactiveness: Do I have access to all the information I need, or do I have to ask?
- Empowerment: Can I take control of the situation? Are there self-service tools for me to use that are easy and intuitive?
Being detail-oriented is a must. If your business involves constant direct interaction with customers, it is important to frequently audit every customer touchpoint and make sure you have a smooth, frictionless customer experience pathway in place.
For more tips on a friction-free customer experience, we suggest taking a look at ‘Shopper Marketing: How to Increase Purchase Decision at the Point of Sale’ by Markus Stahlberg. Check it out on Amazon here.
3. If you can’t remove the pain point, turn it into a positive.
Almost every business has points of friction that are impossible to remove. In those cases, we recommend reframing how they are perceived instead.
Companies like Ikea do this brilliantly. They’ve turned what can feel like a chore to some, with a trip to one of their stores into a highly anticipated brand experience, complete with a Scandinavian-style meal at the end (and the opportunity to purchase all the ingredients to make it). They know that the longer their customers linger in their stores, the more likely they will buy.
They’ve also turned the major pain point of having to assemble your furniture into a point of pride. The genius behind this business model eliminates the resources, storage space and costs required to build their products in-house. Also known as the ‘IKEA effect’, they create a cognitive bias, with customers placing a significantly high value on the products they help partially create.
Pain points are not always a bad thing. If you can’t completely eliminate them, look for clever ways to reframe them and use them to your advantage. This might be the starting point of a novel approach that will turn you into a trendsetter within your industry.
Bottom line: Customer experience matters.
With the rise of social media and customer empowerment, turning your customer off is increasingly costly. That’s why we believe it’s important for any business, whatever its size, to focus on improving their customer experience.
This isn’t just about knowing your shopper’s buying habits, incomes, and demographics. It’s about their thoughts, emotions, and states of mind. Until you understand these subjective emotions and how to shape them, true customer satisfaction will remain inconsistent.
Energi’s new customer experience platform Shop with Me is designed to help you understand what your customers really want, so that you can elevate their experience. It allows you to see what your customers see in your category with your brand and product. Find out more about how Shop with Me can help transform your customer experience here.