7 ways retailers could boost customer experience with tech
To stay relevant today, brands must look beyond the 4Ps of marketing (place, price, promotion and product) and consider how they can better satisfy customers’ needs and expectations.
In addition to generating positive word-of-mouth and improving brand image, customer experience (CX) now plays a vital role in attracting and retaining customers. According to an Accenture report, almost half of Singaporeans (48 percent) are frustrated with companies that fail to deliver relevant, personalised shopping experiences. Among these consumers, 45 percent will choose to switch companies. This highlights an urgency for brands to improve CX. How, then, can brands ensure that they are truly differentiated from their competitors?
A 2017 Gartner survey revealed that 84 percent of organisations are expected to ramp up investments in CX technology this year. Improvements in technology allow retailers to access new tools and techniques for valuable customer insights and new avenues for interactions. Chatbot, for instance, is a great tool for businesses to quickly resolve customers’ enquiries – 57 percent of companies globally are already using chatbots or have planned to introduce one in 2017, according to Forrester.
Customers notice details – be it good or bad – so it is always in a company’s best interest to make sure they are innovating in the right way. Below are seven ways retailers can consider using technology to deliver compelling experiences to their customers.
1) Improved churn prediction
Retailers spend tremendous cost and effort to find like-minded customers, and attract them to a specific brand over competitors. Most importantly, smart companies are taking a step forward as they spend money in figuring out how to keep their customers loyal to their brand. By the end of 2018, brands will be so good at spotting a consumer’s potential defection that they may be able to predict when a consumer will defect even before the consumer knows it themselves.
2) Satisfy customers’ needs instantaneously
Any CX manager will tell you that responding to customer complaints and demands needs to be as close to instantaneous as possible. The next frontier in service is instant delivery, or as close to it as realistically possible. With companies like Amazon and Walmart investing heavily in same-day delivery and rapid response, many others will follow suit. As consumers begin to expect instant service, smart companies must figure out how to provide it or provide a product of such intrinsic value that it would be worth the wait for.
3) Compress the consumer-to-manufacturer feedback chain
A 2017 Qualtrics report revealed that more than half of Asia Pacific consumers (68 percent) consider it very or extremely important that an organization responds to their feedback. Consumers expect to provide feedback on products but often do not expect to see improvements for months – if at all.
Manufacturing costs and sophistication often contribute to this delay. However, one of the biggest challenges is the “knowledge chain” of feedback. This is a process where – once feedback is shared – someone must first learn and understand the problem, then approach and convince the next link in the chain to make a change, and so on until it finally gets to the right person.
To address this problem, we will see a rise in feedback mechanism on the product itself, so customer problems and defections are sent directly to the manufacturing plant and product manager in real-time. This creates urgency and transparency between these groups and will greatly improve the speed of production and marketing.
4) A new Internet of Things (IoT) era
The next level of the IoT is more personal.
Everyday products will have “smart” features, such as containers that can determine how fast a product is being used, how soon it will run out, and add itself to an automated delivery list. As such, retailers in Asia Pacific can expect to see several new patents both in the space and in-product.
5) Improved anomaly detection
Identifying anomalies in behaviour is an easy, but understanding the meaning behind them is difficult.
Retailers will then need to ask multiple questions to truly understand the customer’s purchase intent: could it be fraud? Is there a new significant other? Did you receive a raise and are trying to improve the gifts you give?
Marketing firms used to simply bombard potential customers with advertisements. Advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence will enable more complex anomaly detection in 2018, thinning out the marketing span and delivering real value opportunities that are more germane and timely to a purchasing decision.
6) Self-services will become the norm
People are increasingly impatient and refuse to accept that easy ideas would require difficult processes to execute. Many industries — from medical care, to automotive sales, to college admissions — are ready to be disrupted by innovative methods of service delivery. Similar to the self-check counters at supermarkets, many consumers are choosing to forgo human interaction in favour of solving their own problems.
The motivation is easy to understand: nobody takes care of me like I do.
By anticipating customer needs and implementing smart software to address issues, companies are putting routine problems in the hands of their customers and saving their customer teams for more complex issues. For companies that want to retain service as part of their value proposition, those services must significantly outpace the perceived value of the self-serve alternatives.
7) Improved personalization through enhanced data
Talking about personalized experience as a “north star” is nothing new in the CX space.
In 2018, retailers will make significant progress towards this goal as they align existing legacy systems and enhance them with better experience measurement and experience management platforms. Coalescing the data streams from operational warehouses and meshing those with attitudinal data and analytics will unlock great potential within companies to get personalisation right.
To put these new practices to use, most retailers will need to spend time and resources building equally new systems. Flipping the switch to “on” should be the last box left unchecked. As organizations properly combine tried-and-true practices with new concepts, they will continually uncover innovative ways to reach customers and their pocketbooks.
Perhaps the single biggest key to future growth is moving beyond earlier predictions and expectations. Many brands spent 2016 and 2017 trying to achieve and live up to 2015 predictions. Cutting lose any anchors of ineffectiveness will let retailers simply move on to leaner and more productive years ahead.
Qualtrics is a rapidly growing software-as-a-service company and the leader in experience management. More than 8,500 enterprises worldwide, including more than 75 percent of the Fortune 100 and 99 of the top 100 U.S. business schools, rely on Qualtrics. Our solutions make it easy to measure, prioritize, and optimize the experiences organizations provide across the four foundations of business: customer, product, employee and brand experiences. To learn more, and for a free account, please visit www.qualtrics.com/au