You may have read my colleague Ray Ffrench’s blog “Thank you for your custom: here is a £40 parking fine” which highlights an important disconnection in a retailer’s omni-channel customer experience. This inspired me to consider what retailers should be doing to ensure their omni-channel customer experience becomes a point of competitive advantage and not something that detracts from their customers’ loyalty.
How to get it right!
Cover the CX e2e – as per Ray’s example the retailer must consider all aspects of the customer experience, door to door, click to collection or delivery. Also even if part of that journey is out of the direct control of the retailer, such as parking or the last mile delivery through a 3rd party, they must realise that the customer may not draw that distinction. Innovation can help here through delivery tracking or having a car parking section within your site/app.
Be clear - Discoverability - ensure the content within the contact area of your website is accurate & up to date (locations, phone numbers, opening hours, store services, parking info). Ensure that is fed through to Google via SEO.
Don’t forget the hygiene factors – I’ve used retailers stores where they heavily promote their apps or online service yet don’t offer any free in store Wi-Fi despite being located in an area of poor reception.
Offer choice – have the capability but let the customer chose how to interact with you, Live Chat isn’t right for all and a traditional telephony customer service channel remains important to some segments. Likewise new initiatives such as digital receipts are important to some but the choice needs to remain.
Be contactable - Customer contact strategy alignment – ensure your site drives customer queries to your chosen channel, live chat or enable click-to-call or click-to-email functionality for ease of use.
Provide convenience – having a real-time store stock checker enables the customer to plan their purchases better and illustrates a joined up cross channel CX.
Make it easy to buy – Ensure editorial content is merchandised, align this to stock levels or margins and make it easy for users to purchase the product highlighted in the content, ‘buy the look’. Also enable in-store purchases from mobile devices from your displays.
Know your customers - Align the level of customer experience to your customer value strategy – it is important to use mechanisms such as Single Customer View to identify your best value customers and offer them a consistently high level of service, even if they are engaged in a low value transaction. A strong loyalty programme, ‘White glove concierge’ / personal shopper services are examples that improve CX.
Be consistent – In the restaurant business, they say the last plate of food served must be as good as the first. Likewise, if you utilise other sales channels, like marketplaces, you must ensure the level of omni-channel CX offered is consistent with your main channels.
Avoid the own goals – ‘here’s a loyalty voucher, but you can’t redeem it in that channel’, ensure you lift the barriers to a good CX. Don’t sell gift cards in store that are not redeemable online & vice versa, don’t over complicate your promotional T’s & C’s and ensure you differentiate customer promos or they’ll lose their value in the customers’ perception.
Provide Click & Collect in the right way – Whilst working for a large retailer one Xmas, our store within the City of London had more customers queuing for Click & Collect during their lunch hour than in the rest of the entire store! You need to ensure the designated area for this is appropriate. In addition, queue management, location details and notification services are important to ensure this service does not end up costing you customers.
Remove internal conflict – A nature element of conflict can exist between online & offline teams within most retailers. This can lead to varying levels of cross channel promotion; one way I have seen to eradicate this is to agree on a share of sales ownership within the P&L’s. That can make the shop floor staff more comfortable with directing customers to other channels; like-wise the collateral throughout the stores promoting online channels and in-store technology is used to a greater extent.
Support the customer journeys – Elements such as blog & editorial content, your app, the fulfilment experience and search capabilities should all be configured to supporting online & offline customer journeys.
In summary, I feel it’s all about offering your customers the choice of how they interact with you and not exposing your internal siloed teams to your customers. Breaking down internal barriers between online & offline teams is an integral part of delivering a true omni-channel customer experience.