In today’s retail environment, price and product no longer represent a retailer’s biggest advantage for standing out in a crowded marketplace. Instead, the key differentiator is a store’s ability to deliver the best possible customer experience.
The reality is that customers are no longer brand loyal—they are experience loyal.
If your store can’t measure up to expectations, it risks abandonment from customers, who can—and will—find another nearby business that meets their needs. In order to stay competitive in the era of experience loyalty, retailers must restructure their strategies and make customer engagement a priority. Here are four areas to focus on.
1. Connecting Across Channels
Customers today are omni-channel—that is, they take their shopping from desktop to smartphone to retail location (sometimes more than one at the same time) and back again, and they expect their experience to be seamless and personalized from start to finish. With local traffic increasing from a variety of smart devices, overall store success depends on satisfying moments of local purchase intent.
To effectively harness customer experience, merchants must stop thinking “big picture” and start building their strategy around understanding the customer’s needs and an individual’s path to purchase. This means redefining what role their store seeks to fill in a customer’s life, and discovering what it takes to deliver that experience consistently across all devices.
Customers are impatient and no longer satisfied with complicated “points-based” rewards program. The movement to rewarding loyalty with instant in-store credits – from stores like Costco and Kohl’s, to the local boutique – is irresistible.
2. Strengthening Strategy With Technology
Brands like Amazon and Starbucks continue to be industry leaders because their strategy prioritizes constant innovation into digital tools that improve the customer experience. But all retailers have the ability to use technology to their strategic advantage.
For example, using native mobile functionalities to provide customers with value based on their real-time activities – such as offering instant, in-store credits based on purchases – helps personalize the buying experience and showcase the store as one that genuinely understands their customers’ needs.
3. Using Data to Make It Personal
At the heart of engagement is personalization fueled by layers of user data. Technology is enabling companies to gain greater access to accurate information about their consumers that helps drive truly personalized experiences across devices.
Personalization, however, really begins with the collection of these data layers, which merchants can utilize to map and personalize the customer journey. This process enables retailers to view the journey from the perspective of their customers and ask questions that characterize engagement at every key touch point: what are the steps my customer has to go through to reach me? What do they expect from this interaction? What are the points of customer friction they are experiencing? What kinds and amounts of loyalty rewards will motivate return visits and higher spending?
4. Focusing on Simple Metrics
It’s no wonder that 47.3 percent of customer experience professionals surveyed think that their organizations are either “ineffective” or “very ineffective” at measuring the business impact of customer experience—engagement is a notoriously difficult thing to measure.
While a variety of factors contribute to this, merchants often struggle with data overwhelm resulting from a virtually endless number of digital strategies. Instead of getting lost in all the possibilities, marketers should focus on identifying specific goals and utilizing data obtained from simple metrics to achieve success: Did this ad drive sales? Did this loyalty reward increase return customer visits online or in-store?
The combination of these factors working together enables retailers to master customer engagement and realize the true potential of delivering an exceptional customer experience, with an emphasis on rewarding customer loyalty through instant in-store credits to motivate return visits and higher spending.
Credits: Adapted from article posted at Convince&Convert.com