Delivering omnichannel CX - dos and don'ts
As the challenges for the high street continue, there’s no doubt that the frontline staff who have contributed so much to both customers and retailers as key workers could do with some reassurance that there’s a bright future for them. Their place is assured in the physical store because customers will always crave personal, ‘human’ experiences, but the skills required to fulfil store associate roles will inevitably be determined by increased customer choice, in-store technology and a degree of automation. New, tech-enabled ways of working from virtual consultations to one-to-one clienteling have come into their own over the last 18 months and they’re undoubtedly here to stay, but they need to be introduced to the shop floor in the right way if store associates are to see an improvement in both their status and their ability to deliver happiness through excellent customer experiences. Here’s how to avoid the pitfalls.
Do talk to your store associates about the future
It’s easy to forget that retail staff are customers too, and will undoubtedly have used technology as part of their own shopping experiences. They will have a good idea of what works and what doesn’t, and are likely to have strong opinions about how to use retail technology to improve their working life.
Tap into this willingness to adopt tech tools and encourage staff to get involved in implementation, training and continuous improvement to ensure a seamless transition to a digitally-enabled environment with customer experiences that work for store associates and shoppers alike.
Don’t neglect to give store associates the tools they need to deliver excellent experiences
Consulting with store associates to make sure they have access to the right kind of technology shows a commitment to providing the right kind of customer experience. The base line for relevant, effective service both in-store and via virtual consultations should be store associates with access to the same level of digital content and technical power as their customers. Deprive them of the devices and data they need to do their job properly and they cannot hope to provide customers with information and advice when, for example, they are asked about the latest range of products or, increasingly, the retailer’s responsible business policies.
Do acknowledge the essential role store associates play in making sure customers have a personalised experience
It’s just not possible to provide great service – context-specific, personalised customer engagement matched to their individual needs – if there is no consistent way to identify a customer across channels. Forrester reports that around 50% of shoppers will spend more with retailers who have made the effort to engage with them as a single, unified organisation by streamlining customer service and combining customer data and digital tools, which is why 72% of leading retailers have committed to investing in a personalised omnichannel experience.
Research by data management professionals Segment reinforces the value of personalisation – 40% of shoppers said they had bought something more expensive than they intended because of a personalised recommendation from a retailer, and 44% said they would become a repeat buyer after a personalised experience.
Once the platform is in place to harmonise customer data across all channels, the quality of their experience depends entirely on store associates with the ability to apply both product knowledge and emotional intelligence to their individual circumstances.
The ability to provide a truly personalised, one-to-one experience will reinforce the value to customers and retailers of the essential role store associates play in both physical and virtual store visits:
- In-depth customer insight will give a complete picture of activity online and in-store for personalised recommendations and cross-sell opportunities
- Access to exclusive content and advance ranges will inspire interaction and increase engagement
- Personalised conversations will deliver a VIP service
Now more than ever, high street shopping is in the hands of store associates. They need - and deserve - the technology that can re-energise the industry as a whole and their roles in particular.
With a background in marketing and psychology, Emma Newman is a talented Client Consultancy Director who has worked with high-profile clients across the retail spectrum. Much in demand as a customer experience expert, she has been instrumental in building customer-focused strategies for a number of leading brands.