There’s dozens of definitions of what retail CX is and how it’s the secret to surviving a new era of changing consumer expectations. Here at Arkade, we don’t break out the tarot cards often (we’re more a ‘Cards Against Humanity’ kind of crowd), but we have delivered enough practical CX solutions to arrive at what we think is a useful summary of the current state of play of retail CX here in Australia.
A typical ‘clicks-and-bricks’ retailer needs action across 6 key departments to be able to say you have a solid CX platform on which your strategies can be realised.
Point of Sale and Clientelling
You have two types of customers, and your in store experience needs to deal with both. It’s easy to spot the difference between them by how they answer the question, “do you have an account with us?”
If NO, this is a GUEST customer.
They may want to register an account with the brand once they understand the benefits of doing so, and this should be an efficient and enjoyable process — just don’t call it a loyalty program. They may browse and shop, or leave the store with nothing more than a tick on your footfall counter. The only way to influence their future purchases, outside of advertising, is the strength of the memory of their experience in your store. Savvy retailers may have a win back call-to-action on their printed or emailed receipts.
If YES, this is a KNOWN customer.
In this case you should be able to quickly call up the customer’s profile on the POS or other clientelling device as part of your normal service routine. From here you’ll be able to:
- Identify and fix any broken or missing contact info such as bouncing emails addresses and missing mobile phone numbers
- Update communications preferences across email, sms and push notifications
- View and update the customer’s product preferences (eg style and size for apparel retailers)
- View a quick and friendly history of their relationship with the brand — including online and in store visits, purchases, email and customer service interactions
- Save follow-up information for the customer — eg add some items to their wishlist to consider online in their own time
But you don’t always need to rely on your own tech to access this — the known customer should also have their profile loaded into the brands mobile app on their phone…
Did you know nearly every customer has a computer in their pocket that has a faster processor and better internet connection than your POS has? When you think of it this way, maybe all this effort of fitting out our stores with tech and devices could be skipped if most of our best customers brought their own. Lets call it BYO-POS™.
A mobile app should be considered as:
- Another square metre of retail space that’s staffed and open 24/7
- A mobile POS terminal
- The most direct and personalised form of communication with your best customers — it trumps email and SMS in effectiveness when used correctly
A native mobile app must work in tandem with your mobile web presence, which over time will only service casual/guest customers as your best customers will gravitate towards your app.
Advantages of native apps over your mobile website include:
- An always-logged-in view of the customer
- Ability to track individual customer locations down to ‘In Change room’, or ‘At POS’ via Beacons — This is opt-in individual tracking of known customers, not aggregate tracking that you might have seen in wifi based footfall tracking tools
- Access to cameras for image capture, barcode reading and new AR experiences
- More robust saving of credit card information for 1 click (better than ‘1 page’) checkout
- Brand presence on your customer’s favourite device — as opposed to being hidden behind a browser icon and search bar
A multichannel retailer can expect an eCommerce conversion rate of somewhere around 3%. Much effort is spent trying to improve this without much consideration on what the other 97% of visitors are doing other than not converting. When you stop trying to make these customers convert to an online sale today, and instead confirm that their curiosity has been converted into a strong intent to purchase — most likely in store — in the immediate future, you have the potential to unlock a much larger number of incremental sales. They just won’t be online.
The eCommerce site or team should be able to accurately take credit for the number of in store sales that occurred at the end of an online consideration phase. With this number in hand, the prioritisation of features and the amount the brand chooses to invest in its own online storefront will likely be a vastly different conversation than what it is today.
One of the biggest drivers of ecommerce growth is the reach and effectiveness of the physical store footprint. Conversely a significant proportion of in store sales can be attributed to eCommerce site visitation.
Success is symbiotic, so it is vital the retail and eCommerce teams work very closely together to maximise the effects of this flow of value through investment in initiatives that benefit the other channel.
Some great examples of this are:
- Fulfillment integration — you know all the buzzwords: click and collect, store to door, endless aisle
- Virtual and physical gift cards that can be purchased and redeemed in both channels
- Customer account creation and access including styling, sizing and communication preferences
- Wishlists that can be accessed and updated in store by staff and online by customers
- Full purchase and online order progress available in store and online
Site and Store activity: products or looks viewed online available to store staff
Firstly let’s assume you have a single customer service team and don’t have a completely separate online order support team. This team of often under-appreciated individuals have the list of things that your customers wish you could do better. A list of things that if you could fix would make your customer experience better than many of your competitors. Most heads of CX are either born from this environment, or get so jaded about about brand and customer that they quit your industry entirely!
You customer service team needs to:
- Actively categorise and quantify all inbound service requests — regularly identifying key pain points and presenting them to the business in a way that can be addressed
- Create a suite of self service content and capability for customers to deflect ‘easy win’ requests
- Prioritise proactive and high value support tasks like live chat and knowledge base (FAQ) development
Consider who in your business could add value to customer service requests and explore ways to get them involved. By leveraging your store staff network you could solve some interesting capacity and time zone challenges that brands that stick to a head office only approach to support will never be able to beat.
Customers that are known to the brand should have their requests prioritised and super-charged due to all the additional context your agents will have at their fingertips as soon as the email arrives, phone rings or live chat begins.
Specifically we are talking about direct-to-customer communications such as email, SMS, push, re-marketing audiences, and even post — not advertising of any form. That said, let’s break this section in to Marketing and Customer communications.
At the risk of oversimplifying things, Marketing communication is all about solving specific business problems by activating the most relevant set of customers via a direct communication (or just send-to-all emails every Thursday at 8am!).
It is the role of the CX platform to make as many relevant, contactable customers available to the marketing team with enough identifying and behavioural data that will allow marketing to address the problem/opportunities of the day.
Marketers must do this in a way that does not abuse the access they have been given to their customers, as every unsubscribe or opt-out reduces the effectiveness of future campaigns.
These communications are personalised and action based. They occur on the customer’s experience timeline, not the brand’s. By keeping the approach (and even the team and toolset used) separate from marketing communications you may be far more effective at influencing the behaviour and value of your customers over the longer term.
Here’s a hit list of typical customer communications that you should have considered
- Onboarding (welcome)
- Profile completeness and hygiene
- Post purchase
- Ecommerce order and shipping sequences
- Post visit including abandon browse, list and cart
- Pre/Post Customer service
- Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) sequences
- Individual reward or benefit earn, remind and extend sequences
- Referral and advocacy sequences.
If these are all setup correctly, then the right customers will be getting regular, personalised and highly relevant communications from your brand based on their current customer journey (typically with engagement rates more than double that of marketing communications) — reducing the reliance of marketing to ‘blast’ offers at their customers.
Marketing can always ‘rent’ space on these customer communications, changing the nature of marketing messages to be more ‘while we have your attention’ than ‘hey look at me!’
Reporting and Insights
So you’ve now got most customers actively and consistently tracking interactions and transactions with the brand over a significant period of time. Remember they are doing this because of the specific value it brings to their experience with the brand — not to add records to your database.
But a database you have! You are in the enviable position of having lots of ‘answers’. It’s now that you realise that you don’t have as many ‘questions’ as you thought you did.
We often hear brands request more insights, reports and dashboards from the CX tools — but often they expect these to come with the questions and answers already defined. Most tools have canned Q&A reports in place — but these are available to everyone who uses that tool and can’t really offer you anything more than baseline metrics that have little value without your context.
You need to have real questions to answer or theories to test before you really start getting mileage out of your data or reporting tools. Its only with tough questions, that have real value once answered, that you can gain a competitive edge from your customer data.
The sorts of questions that are worth answering are:
- What is the real value of my known customer asset
- What does a newly registered customer generate in revenue in 90, 180, 365 days, and over their lifetime
- How much does it cost me when we let an active customer lapse
- What does an unsubscribe cost me over a year (or a lifetime)
- How much convenience benefits (eg free shipping and returns) can I afford to offer a registered customer compared to their annual value
- What products when purchased generate higher long term customer value
- What is the long term value of customer who return more products
And this is just the start.
Moving your analysis from transactional to customer-centric can quickly solve many vexing questions that may have eluded you to date. It also enables the economic decisions to focus on the value a customer brings over time, rather than within one single transaction alone.
but none of this is possible unless your customers are part of the solution, and by that I mean they are known to the brand and love being known!