Quality, value for money, good service – those are not enough to connect with your customers. Nowadays, retailers have to put customer experience first.
What is customer experience?
Customer experience deals with the relationship you have with your customers, how they experience your brand – conscious or subconscious. It’s also the feeling your customer has when interacting with your brand because experiencing is a feeling.
They know this at Retail Office: “The meeting between a customer and a brand results in emotions. A positive emotion convinces a customer to buy or appreciate your brand which can result in purchases at a later time. You have to start from the customer to get customer experience right.”
Be careful: customer experience isn’t the occasional ‘wow’ feeling you create. That can pleasantly surprise your customers but it stays a one-night-stand. one-night-stand. You want a lasting relationship. You can only become you customers’ soul mate when you understand them. Only then they will return and tell others about you
How to do this in practice? Obviously, quality and service remain key points but you can make it easy for your customers with a well thought-out store lay-out. Contemporary store concepts not only anticipate on customers’ expectations but also on their senses in real life.
For example, by spreading a pleasant smell, your customers will stay longer in your store and are more likely to come back. Scents influence your product experience. Research shows that scent marketing can increase your turnover. Music plays a big part Music plays a big part too. Who hasn’t run out of a store because of the too loud or annoying music? A playlist that fits with the atmosphere, concept and time of day is necessary.
Those examples show you how to create an emotional connection with your customers. A scent and a matching piece of music reveal care and attention. It’s like a salesperson carefully listening to a dissatisfied customer and looking for a solution instead of an uninterested person saying: “I understand, but …”
What about customer experience online?
How do you extend your concept when your customers are only able to see and hear? Your stores are just one channel, and again, the customer experience is decided by all your interactions with the customer, before, during and after the sale.
Obviously, consistency is important. That starts taking the online look and feel and extending it to your store. Customers expect that the online and offline prices, product placement and product information are seamlessly integrated and equal.
Discounts and benefits they have online, should also count in the store and vice versa. They expect the answer to questions or feedback online to be as smooth and relevant as in the store. Ordering a product online with just a few clicks should be as efficient as collecting it in the store. Your staff better be well informed.
In actual practice, that is only achievable when you have a central view of the sales and your online and offline stock and cash registers are integrated. An integrated backbone ensures you to have customers who talk about their experiences.
An item that isn’t available in the right size in that one store, is probably available in another store. Maybe the customer wants to get it delivered at home? When a customer walks out with a new TV, they will find an electronic receipt including the warranty and a link with fast installation tips in their mailbox. When they walk out with napkins for a party, they will get free creative folding tips with the e-ticket. The possibilities are countless.
Whatever aspects are that tell the story of your brand and determine your customer experience, make sure that they come up consistently online and offline. It all comes down to determining the processes that give the customers what they are looking for, preferably without having to think too much.
It’s easy with the right infrastructure. An integrated backbone gives you a lot of customer information that gives you an idea about their needs and preferences. It helps you to improve and personalize your service. You learn to understand your customers. The underlying technology, strategy, design and marketing are important for an omnichannel retailer when it comes to customer experience.