We are neck-deep in an era of ‘retail happens everywhere’. And no, this is not going to be another one of the endless posts about what the term “omnichannel” means. What this post is intended to convey is that in a day where customers are very educated on what they need, want, and where and how they intend to buy it, it comes down to the experience. At Hughes, we’re not solely focused on just customer experience, but rather split between how retailers can elevate the entire brand by focusing on CX but ALSO EX, or employee experience. Because at the end of the day, if a customer has even one bad experience, you may lose them for good.
In fact, a recent report commissioned by Klarna, surveyed nearly 2,000 US customers and 250 retail decision makers – and the results were very interesting. It was reported that more than half of shoppers today, 55% to be exact, will not return to a brand or retailer after one bad experience – suggesting that today’s customer has essentially no tolerance at all for a poor customer experience.
Further, data in that report stated that 69% of retailers admit they need to work harder to retain customers and another 36% felt as though they are “behind the 8 ball” in keeping pace with consumer expectations.
But where is the breakdown? Perhaps it is a customer’s inability to find what they need within a reasonable time window. Or perhaps, it is missing out on a special promotion because little to no information is communicated at the store level. Or even worse (in my mind), an employee fails to deliver on the expected experience, likewise killing the experience and in turn the loyalty of the shopper.
But why does this happen? In a day where brick-and-mortar brands have been investing heavily in technology, the customer experience should be top notch. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. And here’s why.
- Brands never determined their “WHY.” Why did they invest in technology? Was it because they had data suggesting that the investment would enhance the experience OR was it because their competitors are doing it – meaning it was done out of self-preservation. It is absolutely critical that when a brand invests in any kind of technology, that they have a very clear “WHY” statement that is well understood and accompanied by a solid strategy to execute on it.
- Even when the brand employs data to make decisions, it is critical that those delivering on the tech experience in store have the information they need to not only encourage those in the store to use it, but also understand how it augments and potentially enhances the shopping experience. Whether its introducing AR or AI, or an interactive kiosk into a store, or simply showing someone how connecting to the guest wi-fi and implementing Wi-Fi analytics can provide additional discounts and offers, the customer experience is heavily contingent on the employee. With this in mind, brands are seeing the importance of investing heavily in EX (employee experience) alongside their CX initiatives. Technology that is not appreciated by the customer or the employee is destined to fail.
- The technology fails to perform the way it is intended – and therefore frustrates the customer. In the report mentioned above, Michael Rouse, CCO at Klarna, stated it perfectly when he said, “Consumers now demand more convenient and flexible ways to pay for purchase. It’s also clear that retailers must better understand their customer’ needs in order to build a seamless commerce experience; not only to drive sales and loyalty, but to differentiate from competitors in the current retail climate.”
To clarify, if the technology “bogs” down the shopping experience, while it was no real fault of the employee, and the brand had determined its “WHY,” the technology has to work – otherwise customers will be leery of using it again – let alone shopping at your store again.
Amazon Go is a prime (yes, pun intended) example of this concept where the technology had to work every time. While the case appeared to work, at least in the markets they initially rolled out, imagine what would have happened if the technology didn’t work. It would have been chaos, and customers would most likely write off the concept altogether.
Shopping needs to be “fun.” It needs to be convenient. And it needs to be a memorable experience, because if it’s not, and if it’s not done based on sound data, customers will run for the hills, or at least for your competitors.