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Retail customer
experience:
How to keep pace
with customer
expectations

Author: Mike Elgan

Changes in the marketplace are driven by customer expectations, which are constantly shifting. This requires a nimble approach to retail customer experience strategy to keep pace with expectations. Retailers that offer the best customer experiences can impress new customers and enhance the loyalty of existing customers.

Today, customers expect their retail experience to feel like a relationship. They don't want to simply leave with their purchase; they want maximum choice in how, when and where they interact with the brand, and they expect brands to know who they are at every stage of their journey.

This has left many organizations wondering how to enhance customer experience in retail, but it's not as complicated as you may think. The best way to meet rising customer expectations is to rely on advanced technologies and their associated methodologies.

Retail customer experience: How to enhance customer experience in retail

Enhancing the customer experience starts with a unified omnichannel retail strategy that integrates all online and offline retail customer touchpoints and promotional channels. Successful strategies can dramatically improve customer retention and increase customer engagement and spending.

Personalization and hyper-personalization requires data collection and processing at scale. The first step is to define your ideal retail customer experience and work back from there, gathering metrics for outcomes like customer satisfaction, confidence, and trust.

Of course, automation is a key part of enhancing the customer experience in retail, which can deliver personalized customer interactions. Because customers expect their interactions to show that the brand personally knows them throughout their journey, it is imperative that retailers adopt a cross-channel approach to sales, marketing and customer service.

Artificial intelligence (AI) tools provide contextual intelligence that can personalize discounts and promotions, as well as automatically make suggestions based on past actions. For example, you can send a customized alert to a customer encouraging them to purchase a product that is complementary to one of their previous purchases or recommend new products that match their purchase history or preference profile.

AI can also conduct sentiment analysis to prioritize messages. An angry or urgent email, text or social post can be singled out and escalated for higher priority, turning an unhappy customer into a happy one because their concerns were taken seriously and promptly addressed.

It's also important to develop a well-defined Return on Experience (ROE) measurement strategy. By measuring customer satisfaction (using surveys), customer response rates, first contact resolutions, store visit metrics, cross-sell rates, word-of-mouth recommendations and other metrics, you can gauge what is working and what is not.

In short, you should aim to identify the points where the retail customer experience measurably impacts customer satisfaction. 

Continually test, measure and iterate on your ROE strategy

Your ROE strategy should involve testing, including A/B testing, program trials, policy experiments and other methods to understand what's working. Compare these measures against business objectives, and build an iterative feedback system where you can implement new processes and services that elevate customer experiences.

Ongoing communications is the best way to understand how customer expectations are changing.  Ask your customers for feedback on recent experiences or what their ideal shopping journey entails through surveys or other feedback tools. With the right strategies, practices and technologies in place, you'll be better positioned to quickly respond to future changing customer expectations which should result in more happy customers and increased revenues.

Learn how Verizon can help you develop a retail customer experience strategy that puts your customers' needs first.