Customer Experience - How and Why to Invest and Improve This Year
When it comes to standing out from your competitors customer experience is key, meaning that everything from how you interact with customers to the technology you bring in-store and online has to be optimised.
If there is one key buzz phrase for 2015 it has to be customer experience. Improving the experience of customers online or in-store is essential to enable retailers to stand out from their competitors. Increasingly, technology is enabling retailers to do this, yet many are still failing to invest in it and, therefore, failing to satisfy their customers.
Reversing such a trend is key with retailers eager to turn their customers from simple transaction points into key promoters and advocates of their brand. This is supported by the Sanderson Retail Insights Survey 2015 which shows that improving the customer experience is the key focus of retail technology in 2015. As retailers battle to both win sales and increase loyalty in an ever more competitive and global market, 60% of retailers said that improving customer experience was their key focus of retail technology for 2015.
Where are retailers failing to deliver?
Improving the customer experience online and in-store poses its own challenges. When the Sanderson Retail Insights Survey asked ‘on a scale of 1-10 (10 being ‘very well’) how well do you think retailers are managing stock across various channels and multiple locations?’ 40% of respondents rated retailers’ ability to manage stock across various channels between 7-10. Whereas 60% of respondents rated this ability between 3 and 6. Clearly demonstrating that there is a huge need for improvement in this area, particularly as consumer demand for a totally seamless multi-channel shopping experience grows.
Respondents also thought that the industry was still far away from achieving a single view of the customer. On a scale of 1-10 (10 being very close to achieving a single customer view) only 1% of respondents thought that the industry was a 9 in terms of achieving a single customer view, 24% rated it as 7, and 19% as 6. However the majority 44% rated the closeness of the retail industry to achieving a single customer view between 1-5. A single customer view is the goal of all retailers but as the results of the Sanderson Retail Insights Survey 2015 shows the industry is still very far from achieving this, let down by poor data collection and ERP implementation.
Retailers, however, are aware of the need to improve in these areas. When the Sanderson Retail Insights Survey 2015 asked the multiple choice question of what would be the key focus for their retail technology in 2015 60% of retailers and retail experts stated ‘improving the customer experience’ , 82% responded ‘mobile applications’ or ‘mobile payments’, this was followed by ‘enhancing click and collect services’ (31%), ‘extending in-store, ecommerce services’ (28%) and ‘increasing range of delivery options’ 25%.
How can retailers improve?
The introduction of kiosks and iPads in store are complementing retailers’ online presence offering greater stock availability and product information for sales staff.
iPads were first introduced in-store in 2011 by fashion group Aurora and they are now being seen as an essential tool for improving customer service. John Lewis revealed in March that it had spent £92.5 million on IT and systems in 2015 in order to give it “the foundations of a fully joined-up customer experience across the customer journey.” Part of this investment was the roll out of more than 4,000 iPads to staff.
63% of retailers in the Sanderson Retail Insights Survey 2015 said that they felt selling online in-store using ordering solutions such as kiosks and iPads would become commonplace by 2016. A further 20% said they felt that the market could move in such a way with only 17% of respondents dismissing the technology.
Location based technologies such as beacons will increasingly improve the customer experience in-store too - whether that is through the sending of time and location appropriate offers through a smartphone or simply alerting a staff member that a valued customer is in store. Retailers including John Lewis, Tesco, Asda, Mothercare and House of Fraser are trying out the technology as they look to better engage customers and a Retail Week survey showed that 40% of customers said that the biggest draw of in-store technology was greater visibility of special offers.
There is much to be done to improve the customer experience but if retailers want it to be a positive one they must act fast. The time to invest and improve is now.
- Don’t lose customers to the competition by failing to invest in customer experience
- Investing in technology is the key enabler of customer experience.
- Turn negatives into positives by investing in technology that improves the customer experience
Learn more about what the future hold for your business with our free eGuide Retail Insights Survey 2015 - Essential Understandings
Topics: Customer Experience