The retail business is tough. Consider the top 5 retailers in a region. Each of them are essentially selling the same brands, at almost similar price points, and mostly have the same geographical coverage. With such a flat playing field, one can only imagine how challenging it must be to keep ahead of the competition. If this was not enough, the digital wave has enabled a large number of new entrants into the market, making the space even more saturated, and hostile. In addition, the modern day consumer is more connected than ever before and can make purchase decisions on the go. With consumer's dynamic behaviorism and lucrative offers displayed everywhere, barriers between the various channels are being broken down and customers are being empowered and engaged in a unified way. All this has led to the emergence of a highly competitive scenario in the Retail sector, and retailers are grapping to find way to thrive in such an environment.
The question is, how can retailers address this? While they are trying to address the challenge of customer loyalty with discounts, freebies and offers, it is clearly not a long term solution. What will really make a difference here, is top notch customer experience.
A leading global marketing strategist equates consumer behavior to a spiral. He says that consumer behavior begins with an interaction and with the consumer's increasing engagement the spiral amplifies. True to the core, research has provided the following data -
- More than half of consumers are willing to pay more for a guaranteed good experience
- Over 80% of consumers are frustrated when the agent does not have information
- Over 70% of consumers will share a positive experience with 6 or more people
- More than half of companies are able to upsell/cross-sell to existing customers while only a small percentage of companies are able to successfully upsell/cross-sell to new customers
With stats as diverse as above, it is a challenge to manage personalized customer experience seamlessly across all channels. However, with increase in the use of tools like predictive analytics and behavioral analytics, retailers find it easy to form an online persona of consumers and provide the best experiences and offers.
What the retail industry needs in order to amplify customer experience is an analytics-embedded technological grip. Retailers should look at technologies that provide holistic views of customer preferences, and suggest next best actions for issue resolution. The systems should also be able to come up with suitable suggestions for cross-sell and upsell opportunities. Customer service solutions that are coupled with strong predictive analytics can formulate a 360° view of the consumer, enabling omni-channel support, issue anticipation and higher degree of automation.
A paradigm shift in customer service can be foreseen. Business process improvement and increased profitability with high customer centricity is what customer service platforms should provide. For instance, Digital assistants can be used to enhance customer experience in online shopping. One thing that brick and mortar stores have, that online retailers lack is the presence of people to discuss and assist with a purchase. This one aspect still remains to be addressed despite many advancements in the online space. However, with the use of analytics, and soft-robots equipped with cognitive capabilities, the day is not far when we can chat with a bot on a website in the same manner we discuss our needs with a person when we visit a physical store.
For detailed analysis on the importance of customer experience in retail and to get a better understanding of how retailers can leverage next-gen technology to amplify customer experience, read the full article here.