Today’s retail marketplace is more customer-centric than ever, with fierce competition to stand out among an abundance of options consumers have to do business with.
In what Forrester Research has dubbed the “Age of the Customer,” consumers are widely sharing their experiences online and hold tremendous power with competition just a click away. As a result, retailers have found it increasingly difficult to meet their expectations.
Challenges such as guaranteeing a great shopping experience in stores, reducing employee stress and churn, consistently delivering high customer satisfaction, and promoting the “store” brand alongside other CPG brands will get increasingly complicated.
In light of this, how can store operations teams deliver a superior customer experience, win share of wallet, and increase customer loyalty?
The answer starts with data. Here are four reasons store operations teams can’t afford to ignore customer experience data.
Loss of Market Share
If a customer calls your support team and threatens to leave you for the competition, you should capture their specific reasons. You might learn that they are leaving due to a particular but resolvable service fee, or you could uncover that customers prefer your competition due to product availability. In either case, you have hard data you can act on. Competitive information is also readily available across social media platforms where your customers are able to freely voice their opinions—and they aren’t shy in doing so.
Moreover, people are listening: a recent study shows that 90% of customers say buying decisions are influenced by online reviews. As you analyze and engage with how people feel about your brand and service experience online, look at what customers are saying about your competitors, too. Are customers who shop at your competition unhappy for specific reasons; do they love something that your competitors provide, but you don’t? Competitive analysis arms you with the information necessary to counter your competitors in the marketplace and can allow you to differentiate exactly how you are meeting customer expectations.
Low or Ineffective Employee Engagement
Customers are increasingly expecting a more personalized and tailored in-store experience. Analysis of your customer feedback can help pinpoint how you can improve employee engagement, and many retailers are gathering feedback data directly from store employees, immediately after an interaction has occurred. Analyzing each interaction that your team has with customers will undoubtedly provide insight into what customers need and want, and how they feel about their overall experience. For example, how does the “digitization” of stores impact your company? Is it something your customers want from you? Maybe customers in a certain region care more about using their mobile devices in store. As the face of your brand, your front-line employees are a valuable asset. Use customer feedback to ensure they understand the most common customer concerns and are able to address them quickly.
Supply Chain Failures
The ability of your supply chain to deliver on customer needs hugely impacts your business. You can’t afford to over stock less popular products or have empty shelves when your customers need an item. Further, online returns are an increasing concern for retailers and their supply chains. Point of sale data gives you one picture of the quantities and items that customers want, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. By understanding shopper habits and preferences, you’ll be able to stock the right products at the right time, eliminating waste and increasing sales.
Sending the Wrong Message to Your Local Community
Local communities may expect your brand promise to reflect certain values that they hold dear. For example, local shoppers might expect your suppliers to adhere to sustainable fishing methods or to provide pesticide-free produce. There may be a local sensitivity to a certain product line or advertising message. Analyzing customer feedback can inform you of what your customers expect from your suppliers or brand values. Studies show that consumers are more loyal to companies that engage in corporate social responsibility. Meet their needs and you could increase sales and win loyalty.
Building an effective customer experience strategy includes collecting, integrating and analyzing customer feedback and then, using the resulting insights to inform business decisions that improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. With competition to reach today’s consumers so intense, retailers can’t afford to fall behind.
Susan Ganeshan, CMO of Clarabridge