Today, the mantra “the customer is always right” has transformed into “the customer always comes first.” Thanks to the emergence of digital technology and shifting consumer demands, retailers have discovered the importance of adopting a customer-centric sales approach. The result has been a greater focus on the “customer experience.”
Customer experience, or CX, is a measure of how satisfied customers are whenever and however they engage with a product or service. It includes every interaction, no matter how brief or whether it results in a purchase. CX is constantly evolving; therefore, it’s critical for modern retailers to figure out what customers want and create the ultimate customer experience based on their demands. Doing so will help build customer loyalty and ultimately increase revenue.
What Makes the Ultimate Customer Experience?
Consumer expectations have changed dramatically over the years. Historically, customer satisfaction was defined by quick and friendly service. Today, the ultimate customer experience revolves around empathy. Customers want to interact with companies that reflect their values and understand the challenges they face in an uncertain world. Companies like Ombori Grid are helping businesses meet these shifting demands.
Solutions that Provide the Ultimate Customer Experience
Consumer demand for empathy took off during the COVID-19 pandemic, and experts predict the trend will continue. To create the ultimate customer experience based on empathy, retailers have come to rely heavily on three solutions: safety and security, options, and omnichannel.
Customers Demand Safety and Security
Part of being empathetic is understanding what it takes for customers to feel safe and secure in a retail space. During the pandemic, store visits were stressful, often involving face masks, social distancing, and queueing up to enter. Many people preferred to spend as little time as possible inside stores. As the pandemic recedes and shoppers return to retail spaces, businesses can continue ensuring customer safety through digital solutions.
Why Consumers Demand Safety and Security
According to the accounting firm KPMG, personal safety is now one of the top three purchase drivers among consumers and is considered a “basic need, alongside value for money and ease of buying.” Among the reasons why customers demand safety and security are the following:
- Fear of getting sick: According to Chain Store Age, “82% of consumers are concerned that relaxed health and safety protocols at stores will lead to a resurgence of COVID-19.” Moreover, nearly 30% say they would not return to a store if they felt the retailer failed to implement appropriate health and safety measures.
- Desire to feel valued and appreciated: Customers want to know that retailers care about their health and the health of their loved ones. Stores that place health and safety at the forefront of their plans make customers feel understood and respected, ensuring their trust and loyalty.
- Need for empowerment: Customers continue to seek ways to minimize their time inside retail locations and maximize their control of the shopping experience. They appreciate being able to utilize tools such as virtual queueing, curbside pickup, self-checkout, and no-contact payment.
How Safety and Security Benefits Customer Experience
Personal safety is an integral part of the customer experience. The more comfortable people feel when engaging with a retailer, the more likely they are to return and the longer they will stay. Ensuring customer safety is a way to establish and maintain trust with shoppers.
Retailers who fail to ensure proper ventilation, enable safe distances, sanitize surfaces and products, and warn customers of potential dangers could be setting themselves up for costly liability claims. On the other hand, stores that focus on making customers feel comfortable will see a positive impact on their bottom line through increased trust and loyalty. Ombori provides an array of solutions to achieve these goals by improving customer safety.
Today's Customers Demand Options
Having options is empowering for customers. Unfortunately, being presented with too many options can leave them feeling overwhelmed. Promoting impulse shopping is one way retailers can assist customers in overcoming decision fatigue.
An impulse buy occurs when a customer purchases an item with little forethought and no prior intention of buying it. Studies show that “shoppers make at least one impulse purchase each week, [and] those impulse buys add up to $5,400 each year, on average. Depending on the product, impulse buys can make up to 80% of all sales.” Ombori solutions can help retailers tap into this potential revenue.
Why Consumers Demand Options
In addition to decision fatigue, people make impulse purchases for a variety of reasons. For some, it may be an emotional outlet, a way to relieve stress and anxiety, or a form of entertainment. For others, it may be prompted by fear of missing out (FOMO), or not wanting to pass up a good deal while it’s still available. Finally, impulse buying sometimes occurs when consumers aren’t paying attention to their purchasing decisions.
How Options Benefit Customer Experience
Regardless of the reason, impulse shopping can have a positive impact on customer experience. How retailers align their assortment of products and present options to shoppers can help simplify and facilitate decision-making and instantly make the shopping experience more gratifying.
The experience is heightened with the addition of interactive digital signage, which can nudge consumers into impulse purchases by providing more information, highlighting a good deal, or showing how the product will benefit their lives. Digital signage and streaming video offer excellent opportunities to attract customer attention.
Customers Demand Omnichannel Retail
Consumer demand for options applies not only to the number and variety of products offered by a retailer but also to the way customers interact with businesses. Today, people expect their shopping experience to be seamless across multiple channels, platforms, and devices. Customers want to be able to choose their own shopping adventure, and retailers can meet this demand by utilizing omnichannel tools.
Why Consumers Demand Omnichannel
Because people are not quite ready to place the entire customer experience into technology’s hands, retailers should be prepared to embrace an omnichannel approach. This allows consumers to complete most of their shopping journey online but still interact with humans when necessary. Research shows that consumers are still reluctant to trust chatbots, and only 63% are satisfied with the service they receive from one. The goal for retailers is to find a balance between humanity and automation.
How Omnichannel Benefits Customer Experience
Omnichannel technology enhances customer experience in important ways:
- Improved communication: Customers can engage with a retailer in real-time via chat or video, and even through screen sharing and co-browsing. The ability to communicate and share information across channels means customers do not have to repeat the details and they receive a timelier resolution to their issue.
- Increased flexibility: Even when the physical store is closed, customers can still shop 24/7 or place their orders in advance. Queries and reservations can be handled by a chatbot and read by actual sales agents on the next business day. Once the physical store opens, customers with reserved orders can pick up the items they paid for online.
- Greater personalization: Integrating data collection and analysis across channels can provide retailers with a 360-degree view of each customer and allow them to tailor their marketing efforts to the customer’s needs and preferences. They can show customers the products they are most likely to buy and hide those with less appeal.
Benefits for Businesses
Consumers benefit from a customer-centric approach to retail. However, businesses enjoy the spoils as well. Companies with a stellar digital customer experience can command premiums of up to 25% on their products. However, a poor customer experience can cause companies to lose customers – more than 33% of customers would consider switching to the competition after just one incident.
Each engagement between a customer and a retailer is an opportunity to show empathy, and doing so not only earns consumer trust and loyalty but also ensures continued sales. The focus on customer experience is not going away anytime soon, and if anything, it is becoming the number one driver of purchases among today’s consumers. Retailers must continue to prioritize the optimal customer experience for each person by putting the customer first in their sales strategies.