Relieving customer experience pain points
For many retailers with multiple stores, the gold standard for customer experience was always based on being able to guarantee exactly the same service in every store in every high street across the globe. While that’s still true for some – bargain and discount stores tend to focus on selling stock rather than getting to know who’s buying and why, for example – homogeneity is no longer the holy grail for retailers looking to engage and retain today’s customers.
In the latter half of 2021 and the build-up to what should be a much more lively Christmas period than last year (stock and logistics issues notwithstanding), it’s much more about individual experiences and having the ability to meet their personal needs.
Customers’ issues tend to fall into several key ‘pain points’, each of which highlight the need for businesses to take steps towards reviewing their cross-channel systems and investing in technology which will ensure the in-store experience meets each customer’s expectations.
Pain point – they have no time:
- To visit a store
- To look around for their product/size/alternatives
- To check/visit other stores
This is where online and virtual shopping has come into its own for time-poor (and safety-conscious) consumers – they can talk through their choices, select stock, browse alternatives, arrange a convenient delivery/pickup at a local store whenever and wherever they choose. But this doesn’t overcome the fact that many customers would still prefer to have the option to visit a bricks-and-mortar store as part of their shopping journey (73% of customers use multiple channels to shop, according to Harvard Business review). The solution for customer-centred retailers is to take advantage of retail tech that allows them to converge online, virtual and in-store experiences as well as access to product information, stock ordering, pickup from alternative stores and so on into one seamless path to purchase which works for the customer across all channels - fluid, driven by their needs and inherently time-efficient.
Pain point – service expectations:
- They’re looking for a personalised service
- There isn’t enough information in-store about products
- Things which are supposed to improve efficiency don’t always work – for example, click and collect may not save time if the ordered item is not to hand
Most retailers know that shoppers are looking for a level of clienteling, where store associates are able to offer a personalised service that anticipates and meets customer needs from finding products to sourcing orders. We know from our own research that store associates themselves often feel that they would like to know their company’s products and customers better, so that they can provide a superior service. The solution is to give them the right tools, with full, ‘live’ access to stock, products, deals and so on as well as customer information such as profiles, previous purchases, wishlists and orders for collection. According to our research, this can increase sales by as much as 52%, and positivity among store associates by 74%.
Pain point – the stores haven’t got what they want; customers:
- Leave without buying when stock isn’t available/can’t be ordered online via the store
- Have spoken to staff who don’t have enough information to offer alternatives
Losing business through processes that don’t work across all channels should be a thing of the past. The technology exists to ensure that store associates equipped with the right tools can order stock which isn’t available in-store on behalf of the customer, for delivery either to their home, another store or for pick-up on their next visit.
Pain point – waiting in line:
- Visiting a store involves long queues or waiting for store associates to be available
- They have to wait for information/stock check/alternative store details
Fortunately for customers, retailers who have committed to digital transformation have the ability to reduce and, at best, eliminate waiting times. Omnichannel PoS has the power to vastly increase the number of checkouts and payment options available including mixed baskets and remote payments with full attribution - coupled with technically-enabled staff who have all the information at their fingertips to provide customers with what they need, having to wait for either products or advice need no longer be a concern.
Prevention is better than cure
Each of these remedies can help with the most pressing customer issues, but there’s no doubt that applying the balm of technology after the event is nowhere near as effective as taking steps to prevent the pain from happening in the first place. Retailers who aren’t making moves towards a whole-of-business approach to customer experience which removes the barriers between physical stores and online activity to provide a customer-driven, pain-free shopping experience, may well feel the pain themselves when it comes to the bottom line.
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.