Retailers across the industry are coming to the same conclusion: customer experience is the best way to differentiate a brand. It provides increased cross-sell and upsell opportunities. It drives engagement through personalized interactions. It allows teams to make decisions faster, reducing wasted time and resources. It gives a complete view of the customer and aligns the entire organization. These are just a few of the benefits of customer experience. For further information, take a deeper look at the financial benefits of customer experience.
All companies have a customer experience culture, whether it is formalized or not. No retailer wants to annoy its customers, and all would love to delight them. But the key to building a customer experience program that will truly differentiate a brand from its competitors is data. Don’t just take our word for it: data was the element most cited as important to great customer experience in a Forbes survey of over 350 senior executives. Below, we highlight how data can take a customer experience to the next level.
Let customers provide data in touchpoint surveys
Retailers are awash in data. They have transaction histories, gross margins, turnover rates, demographics, and on and on. Yet to improve customer experience, a little more is needed. We need to talk directly with customers and ask about their interactions. Surveying on key touchpoints enables customer experience improvements where they are most likely to cause frustrations, or conversely, where there is the greatest chance to delight. Customers are happy to provide feedback, and merging this data with existing customer data generates invaluable insight.
One side effect of asking your customers about their experiences is that they will expect resolution when they report issues. This produces a golden opportunity to retain customers through what we call “winback programs”, and yet again data is the key. For optimal performance, we need to identify our best customers, which customers are likely to leave, and customers’ reasons for leaving, what we call their “true needs.”
For help on selecting a touchpoint and establishing an associated winback program, see our retail CX blueprint. And stay tuned to our blog for more information, including how to quickly determine the value of at-risk customers.
Dig deeper into data with key drivers
In customer experience, as with any analytic enterprise, core metrics are necessary, but not sufficient. High level KPIs are a reasonable barometer of the current state of your program and are excellent at tracking history. To truly drive change however, we must dig deeper into the data and establish key drivers. Key drivers are leading indicators of the high level KPIs, enabling your organization to get ahead of problems, and more quickly determine whether they are on the right track.
Identifying key drivers begins with brainstorming potential factors which might affect core metrics. Next, quick regression analyses establish causal relationships between potential drivers and the CX KPIs. The top two or three variables with the most significant relationship to the core customer experience metrics become the key drivers that directly affect customers’ experiences and, in turn, financial performance. At least one of the key drivers should be a question on the touchpoint survey, and often all of them are. To dig deeper into how key drivers can accelerate change in customer experience, see our guide on getting started in retail CX.
Usher in emotion… with data
At its core, the customer experience is driven by feelings, not data. As such, emotions are a critical consideration in any CX program. Consider what prompted the customer to begin their search in the first place and ask: “What is the root problem that the product solves?” Or examine who or what along the purchase path is influencing the decision-making process and ask: “Who are customers listening to on their journey?”
These are important questions that a customer experience program must seek to address. And (you guessed it) data helps here as well. Asking customers the right questions can unlock previously hidden information, hence the survey form requires careful construction. Accurately classifying and assigning verbatim comments allows for a more personal touch, so consider using an artificial intelligence solution. Building automated feedback loops and intelligently assigning feedback to appropriate owners to respond transfers knowledge where it can make immediate impact.
Gartner asserts that for 9 out of 10 companies, customer experience is their only true differentiator. And when asking for feedback, developing key drivers, and identifying customers’ emotions, data is the bedrock of any great customer experience program. So to drive impact and accelerate growth, retailers must heed the call and embrace data-driven customer experience. To this end, Centriam has put together a Retail Customer Experience Blueprint to guide retailers of any size on their CX journey.