Customer experience – How to apply customer-centric principles to your retail business
We’ll take a look at the key elements of the customer experience and offer our top tips on how to use technology to apply them to your business.
Customer experience is one of the most important aspects of retail and is the difference between your customers returning to your business (and telling their friends about you!) or deciding never to darken your door again (and telling the friends about you!). Research shows that customers will tell up to 15 other people about a negative or disappointing experience, and only around 3 when they have a pleasing experience so that should put the importance of this topic into perspective.
So, with all that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the elements of a retailer’s offering which add up to a great customer experience so you can be sure you are on your A game.
Defining customer experience
The customer experience is the sum total of all encounters a customer has with your brand. It’s important to remember that this is not limited to their first transaction or even their most recent transaction; it encompasses every touchpoint they have with your business, whether they actually make a purchase or not!
What are touchpoints?
Touchpoints are the encounters a consumer has with your brand, whether that is through your social media, an advert, a member of your team or even your website. With so many touchpoints, it’s crucial that your messaging is clear and consistent throughout everything you do – otherwise underlying any customer experience will be confusion.
The benefits of positive customer experiences
While your ultimate measure of success, or Key Performance Indicator (KPI), may be your turnover, remember the point we made in the intro about how many people an unhappy customer will tell about your brand? Just because someone has completed a purchase it doesn’t mean they have had a wonderful experience and it doesn’t mean they will return.
This is why one of your KPIs should be your customer satisfaction levels. After all, which scenario makes better business sense? Making a sale to 10 unsatisfied customers who never return and tell a further 150 people about their poor experience, or making a sale to 5 happy customers who tell a further 15 people about your wonderful brand?
Aside from your sales figures, ensuring your customer experience is tip top will also:
- Increase customer loyalty
- Encourage loyal customers to spend more with you
- Win new customers through recommendations
- Boost your brand’s reputation
All of which result in more sales and higher profits.
How to manage your customer experience
Good customer experience management has a number of components, including:
- Consistent brand and messaging
- Knowing your customers
- Recognising and rewarding loyalty
There are infinite methods which you can employ to give a positive experience so let’s jump in with our top tips on how to give your customers the best experience possible.
How to achieve consistent branding and messaging
This is probably the most difficult yet most important part to get right and begins with how you portray your business across all touchpoints. Points to consider are:
- The look and feel of your business
- Your tone of voice
- Your business’ personality
- How you are different to your competitors
If your business is already established, your brand will already have a ‘look and feel’. Components include your logo, brand colours, fonts and style and it’s important that these are consistent across all channels. For example, you should be applying these standards to your social media platforms and posts, advertising, website and in-store.
Your tone of voice is also very important and should be consistent across every touchpoint, using language and a speaking style which appeals to your core customer base.
When it comes to your business’ personality, think of it like a human and consider things like how it would dress, what is their age and gender, and finally what would people say about them? Here are some examples of brands who have nailed their personality:
- Apple - Fresh faced, cool, quirky, innovative and dependable.
- Tiffancy & Co - Sophisticated, prestigious, elegant and iconic.
- Your business’ personality
- Airbnb - Exciting, carefree, untraditional and unique.
In a world where the same or similar products are available from a wide range or sources, differentiating yourself from your competitors is vital. So, think about what sets you apart from your competitors. It could be your pricing, quality, speedy delivery, a unique product set or anything else that you do differently or better. The key point here is that you shout about it!
When it comes to applying these concepts to your business, consistency is key! Your physical store, eCommerce store, marketplaces and anywhere else you sell should extol the virtues of your brand.How Saledock can help: Saledock’s eCommerce websites are built to your brand specifications and our unified solution ensures you can manage every aspect of your business from a single platform so you can ensure consistency across the board.
Getting to know your customers
While you may think you know your customers, without a bit of technical assistance you’re really relying on your own observations and generalisations about who your customers are, their buying patterns and how they like to interact with your business. While that level of knowledge can assist with key decision making, such as when to replenish products or when to run a special offer, having detailed data on your customer base and individuals can elevate your marketing to another level.
When it comes to offering an exceptional customer experience, you can’t beat personalisation. If your customers feel valued, appreciated and understood, you’re already way ahead of your competition. For example, if you’ve ever received a birthday gift such as a special offer or a freebie from your favourite retailer by email, you know the power that a personalised offer can have. However implementing such tactics is simply impossible without the right technology.How Saledock can help: Saledock’s advanced customer analytics provide detailed insights into customers as individuals, including their buying habits, how often they shop with you, how much they spend and what they actually buy. Using this information, you can tailor your marketing tactics (and the shopping experience!) to the individual. Our HubSpot integration enables two-way syncing so you can send personalised emails in just a few clicks.
Recognising and rewarding loyalty
We’ve all seen loyalty schemes which use cards and stamps or stickers to record purchases, for example the recently phased out McDonald’s coffee loyalty cards. Not only are they open to fraud (which is exactly why McDonald’s changed their model!), they are also offer only a short-term reward structure, whereby the card is actually handed back to the retailer once redeemed. Modern, electronic loyalty schemes (whether you issue a physical card or not) can do so much more than just giving customers a free coffee after your tenth purchase.
Not only do they allow you to build up a picture of your customers' habits, they are also redeemable in different ways, for example in-store or online. They offer the flexibility of points-based or visit-based rewards which can be tiered to provide more valuable rewards for your most loyal customers - and even personalised offers for the ultimate loyalty-building scheme. What’s more, customers are often prepared to pay more for a product if they gain loyalty benefits from the purchase.How Saledock can help: Saledock’s loyalty features provide the flexibility of points-based or visit-based rewards and can be tiered to provide more rewards for your most loyal customers and even personalised offers for the ultimate loyalty-building scheme.
When it comes to offering the best customer experience possible, you simply can’t beat a tech-first approach. Gone are the days where customers are satisfied with a friendly greeting alone, today’s shopper expects an impeccable, personalised service from start to finish and this is simply impossible to achieve without the right technology behind you.
Saledock’s unique solution is built specifically for the modern retailer and encompasses everything you would expect from a forward thinking solution provider. We pride ourselves on our own customer experience and put this at the centre of everything we do.
Why not try our solution free for 14 days and see for yourself how you can apply our customer experience principles to your business through our innovative and sophisticated retail solution. Begin your Saledock journey here.
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