Why are retailers struggling to prove the value of their customer experience programmes?
The US retail market is estimated to be worth over $5 trillion in 2018. Forrester indicates that success largely depends on retailers being able to maximise their customer experience (CX) programmes.
While there's no shortage of research proving the value of a differentiated CX, it can be challenging to prove the ROI. The cross-departmental nature of customer experience initiatives often result in a lack of consistency, with issues dealt with reactively as they’re not identified quickly enough.
Additionally, data is typically spread across multiple, siloed systems. Stakeholders across the organisation collect data in disparate tools and CX leaders don’t have a single platform to house all CX-related data. This makes the interpretation and prioritisation of data tedious and time-consuming. In this environment, proving the value of a CX programme is challenging.
For retail CX programmes to be successful and for stakeholders to get continued investment from the c-suite, there’s a critical need to be able to prove return on investment. Here are three specific strategies to ensure programmes can measure ROI and realise their full potential:
#1. Breaking down silos between systems
The typical retailer has countless sources of data, both internal (i.e. surveys, mystery shopping, customer data) and external (i.e. social media platforms) which are being collected through disparate tools. Usually there’s one team overseeing social media, another working on mystery shopping, and yet another handling customer service — and none of those teams have access to the other team’s data.
As a result the CX team is left trying to gather data that’s incomplete or prone to errors, as it’s subject to interpretation. This makes it extremely difficult to demonstrate the business outcomes tied to CX programmes.
For retail CX programmes to be impactful and live up to their full potential, silos need to be completely eliminated and all feedback sources and systems data be rolled up into a single, centralised platform. The goal should be to include real-time customer data feeds from third-parties, internal audits, solicited and unsolicited feedback, and data from other business systems.
Eliminating silos into a single CX system makes measuring results not only accurate but also much simpler. The relationship between CX programmes and key performance indicators (KPIs) linked to customer loyalty, increasing profit margins, growing business revenue, and improving employee engagement, becomes clear and tangible when data from all relevant systems are housed in one place.
Additionally, a single integrated system means that every stakeholder in your organisation has the data they need, when they need it, and insights can be shared across departments.
Eliminating silos into a single CX system makes measuring results not only accurate but also much simpler.
#2. Creating visibility across all stages of the journey
One of the main goals of retail CX programmes is to provide the organisation with the data required to identify trends and emerging issues at every step of the customer journey.
For CX to be effective and drive ROI, each step of the customer journey needs to be connected so that points of failure and opportunities for feedback can be managed. Without a holistic view and customer touchpoints that are disconnected from one another, it’s incredibly challenging to tie stages in the customer journey to specific KPIs.
The goal should be to create a map of the customer journey where CX problems or opportunities can be anticipated and prioritised at every step of their interaction with your brand. By mapping feedback inputs to the customer journey, key stakeholders can identify sources of delight and despair and then take action.
Visibility into each stage of the customer journey proves the ROI of CX by ensuring the full impact of each customer interaction with your company is clearly understood. By visualising the customer’s experience from end-to-end, you’re able to capture outcomes of interactions and take steps to improve CX. This is particularly important in cases where CX is broken and negatively impacting the organisation, as the ROI of taking action and fixing the problem before it snowballs is clear.
Each step of the customer journey needs to be connected so that points of failure and opportunities for feedback can be managed.
#3. Closing the loop between customers and employees
Customer experience programmes are a priority for retailers, yet they are often just that: a programme. Instead, CX must become a culture that’s built into the organisation as a whole.
Often with CX it’s unclear who’s responsible for what, meaning problems aren’t identified early enough because they’re viewed as isolated issues. For CX to be more than just an isolated initiative, a closed-loop approach is required where customer issues are managed at scale through to resolution with full visibility into the actions taken to resolve issues.
Every retailer knows how quickly a single customer issue that’s mishandled can get out of control. With the power of social media, a simple customer concern has the potential to go viral in a matter of minutes, which makes listening and proactive solutions more crucial than ever.
With a closed-loop approach everyone involved is clear on what their role is, and what needs to happen next. As part of this, both reactive and proactive tasks aimed at improving experience can be assigned and continuously tuned to meet the desired KPIs and business outcomes.
This closed-loop system makes the return of investment associated with CX much clearer. As issues are identified and employees take action to improve customer experience touchpoints, their impact on KPI performance and other CX metrics are readily available.
With a closed-loop approach everyone involved is clear on what their role is, and what needs to happen next.
CX programs and tying them to ROI provides retailers with an opportunity to not only improve experiences, but to ultimately achieve better business performance.
Read the blog, The ROI of Customer Experience: 16 KPIs You Should Be Tracking, and download the KPI resource as a cheat sheet for the most important metrics you should be tracking.
About Lindsay Sykes
Lindsay Sykes is the Director of Marketing at Intouch Insight. Intouch offers a complete portfolio of customer experience management (CEM) products and solutions that help global brands delight their customers, strengthen brand reputation and improve financial performance.