How do you give customers the experience they want when customers don’t really know what they want? That’s the crucial but confusing question for retailers struggling to enhance their brand experience.
A flurry of recent surveys paint a puzzling picture of customers who are both dissatisfied with the customer service they now receive but uninterested in deeper in-store engagement.
Think of them as the friends who regularly share their most challenging problems … and then grow annoyed when you offer possible solutions. As Krista Garcia asked in an article on eMarketer, “What if good customer experience means being left alone?”
Businesses Walk a Fine Line
Almost all consumers — 95 percent, to be exact — want to be left alone while shopping unless they need a store associate’s help, according to a new consumer survey by HRC Retail Advisory, a strategic retail advisory firm.
But in practice, sales associates are apparently too intrusive or not attentive enough. A new survey from Arvato, which provides customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, found:
- Only 52 percent of consumers think they regularly get excellent customer service
- Only 9 percent think that they “always” get excellent customer service
Arvato based its conclusion on a survey of 500 consumers and business leaders in the customer service space.
The experience they want straddles the line between friendly and aloof. And it’s not easy to get right.
“Businesses need to focus on how they’re delivering customer service to make the process convenient, personalized and seamless for their customers,” said Fara Haron, CEO of Arvato CRM Solutions, North America and Philippines.
The Murky Experience They Want
Survey data suggests customers are relatively self-sufficient, with what HRC describes as a preference for in-store technology over the guidance of sales associates while they shop.
But hold on. They aren’t that interested in technology in apparel-store fitting rooms or even mobile payments.
They’d rather have Wi-Fi, in-store apps, mobile Promotions and sales information. They also favor mobile point of sale options that allow them to pay a sales associate from anywhere in the store.
So invest in technology, but invest thoughtfully.
“Identifying the right technologies and pairing it with the right in-store experience for shoppers of different generations will be critical to retailers’ long-term success. Those that curate and customize the store experience and services to suit shoppers’ needs will see the benefits,” said HRC President Farla Efros.
More broadly, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. As noted in a 2017 Retail Trends Report by InMoment, a provider of customer experience intelligence, businesses should analyze their own sectors and customers before investing in any specific technologies.
“Flashy and emerging solutions aren’t best for everyone, and doing things just because others do them isn’t a smart investment strategy. At the end of the day, retailers have to listen to their own customers and employees and examine the needs of their business to inform the wisest choices,” the report states.
Start With Strategy
Chris Spears, Chief Marketing Technology Officer at Arke, understands the pressure to adopt the latest technologies. It often triggers shiny object syndrome. That’s a condition that causes businesses to lose focus because they are so distracted by every new technology.
But that’s risky. Your technology investments have to align with a well-reasoned brand experience strategy, he said.
Once the strategy is in place, marketers can make a holistic assessment of journeys and channels. Then and only then, should they consider investing in technologies — and carefully select the options that support their desired outcomes.
“In the end, technology is just an enabler. It is not a magic bullet. The most important things are a broad vision and long-term strategy in mind,” he said.
Want to learn more about creating the best brand experiences? Email Arke CMTO Chris Spears for more information.
Atlanta-based Arke develops strategies and implements digital technologies for better brand experience for your customers.