Putting customer experience at the forefront of retail in 2020 and beyond

BY Australian Retailers Association
22 April 2020

It's no longer enough to sell a product or service. To thrive in today's market, you have to deliver an exceptional experience for your customers consistently.

Soccer store Ultra Football gets it. The Sydney-based company went all in to make its store an experiential experiment. With an indoor soccer pitch, a dedicated EA sports lounge, and an Italian restaurant, fans are plunged into the world of the sport they love.

It's a daring execution of an ingenious concept that more brands are understanding is critical. Competing on price alone will not work anymore. You've got to design the conditions for brand loyalty, and companies are rising to the top by differentiating with customer experience.

While this is a difficult time for retailers, we have put together some ways are some ways you can enhance the customer experience, so when the industry does bounce back, you and your business be set to conquer the experience economy. 

Harness emotion at scale

One of the best ways to get and keep a customer's attention is to stimulate a positive emotional response. Forrester Research found that when customers are engaged in the right way, with the right emotion, they're willing to pay a premium for the experience. By using data to understand how and why customers behave at each step, organisations can create a relevant and delightful experience. This is a purposeful CX design that is both art and science. And it's one that all companies - of any size and from any industry - can employ to engage and unlock the right emotions at the right time.

Use high-performing CRM infrastructure

To create an engaging experience, you need the right foundation to underpin it all. With high-performing software, you can use the power of machine learning to provide a seamless experience. Data is critical to understand, predict, and manage customer journeys, and you want a CRM platform that can facilitate a natural conversation with a customer no matter which employee or department is engaging with them. It should allow you to easily share data and be flexible and agile enough to implement any CX innovations you dream up quickly.

Ensure CX is a team sport

In the experience economy, the lines within companies are starting to blur when it comes to the internal functions that engage with customers. The truth is, CX is a team effort where many roles have a position to play. The key is using data and analytics to understand where customers are in their journey and to trigger the right engagement so the right agent can take the ball at the right time.

Two areas that have the highest touches are customer success and sales teams. They need to work together to contribute to outstanding CX - and capitalise on cross- and upselling opportunities. For example, a good ticket-workflow will have a record of customer success staff engaging positively with customers, which may spark a sales lead. Sales can use this relationship to foster a different conversation with the same customer. This is a tailored experience built on rapport and trust among an entire team.

Invest in AI and bots for self-service

It wasn't long ago that the idea of employing bots for customer service was inconceivable - critics considered it impersonal, clumsy, and incapable of delivering personal attention. But, the latest iterations of bot engagement have improved dramatically, and we're seeing new generations of consumers embrace self-service.

Many consumers are looking for fast solutions. Automation and bots can anticipate customer needs, leverage machine learning to address those needs, and provide automated resolutions with an interface that still reflects the tone and style of the company. While customer service agents are still vitally important, many people prefer speed over human interaction. We're going to see more organisations employing both in the years to come.

The bar is high for 2020 and beyond

Ingenuity like this is happening in many industries, and I believe there's more to come. We know that customers are now comparing every interaction with a company to the best experience they ever had. This is one area of customer service that has the potential to make or break a company's competitiveness.

What will your organisation do?

Written by ElisabethZornes, chief customer officer, Zendesk

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Australian Retailers Association

Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is Australia’s largest retail association representing Australia’s $320 billion sector, which employs more than 1.3 million people. As the retail industry’s peak representative body, the ARA works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating, and saving money for its 7,500 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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