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Customer experience

Stores being too hot or cold among the nation’s biggest shopping gripes

Stores being too hot or cold, the returns counter located on a different floor and overpowering smells are among the nation’s biggest shopping gripes.

A study of 2,000 Brits found the aspects of modern retail spending which irk us the most, including the layout of a shop changing, broken contactless card machines and even no Wi-Fi in store.

For shopping online, 45 per cent named slow web pages to be their biggest bugbear, alongside products looking different when they arrive and having to wait for refunds.

But while clothes shopping in-store irritates 31 per cent of the nation, just one in 10 feel the same way when purchasing online.

An annoyed 57 per cent even said they have walked out of a shop without buying what they went in for, because they were so fed up.

Mark Howley, UK CEO of Starcom, which commissioned the research as part of it’s ‘Future Tensions in Retail’ report said: “This research defines a cultural shift and insights into consumers for brands around the future of retail.

“Shopping should be an enjoyable experience with interactive areas to enhance this and we predict the way people shop will develop greatly over the next few years, as it already has done up until now.

“Some brands are already delivering this kind of enhanced experience for consumers.

“Topshop recently launched an immersive experience in its flagship store encouraging customers to touch displays, take pictures and relax on the soft furnishings.

“And Samsung’s new experiential store in Kings Cross allows customer to experience its products, attend masterclasses and provide the consumer with key information by the tech experts.”

The study also found one in five have had a disagreement with a member of staff due to being annoyed when shopping, and this has led to three in 10 deciding to shop online instead.

A sixth admitted they feel stressed and frustrated when clothes shopping specifically, while one in 10 find themselves ‘bored’.

But more than a third view shopping as an ‘experience’ and aspects which make a great store were found to be attractive interior, plants and even ‘Instagram-able’ spaces.

It also emerged that a quarter of shoppers would like to see apps which allow you to scan items to avoid having to wait at the checkout, while one in 10 would even like to to have AI-powered shop assistants.

And with the average shopper starting to feel ‘impatient after queuing for 10 minutes, it’s no surprise 44 per cent would like to see waiting times improved in the future.

Another two in five want prices of products lowered.

More than a third would like to see packaging to be more environmentally friendly with one in five taking into consideration whether items are produced ethically when buying them.

A quarter of those polled, via OnePoll, said while they want to buy new things, they also want to help the planet and be sustainable.

The study also found that almost a third believe shops are ‘important’ to their local community and three in 10 think the traditional high street filled with independent stores will return sometime in the future.

To encourage this, nearly a third believe encouraging online retailers to put events on in store or host pop-ups will help it thrive.

But if they could only shop one way in the future, 26 per cent would opt for online while just 24 per cent would opt to go in-store.

This is due to a sixth liking the idea of not having to leave the house, more than a third enjoy having online discounts and 37 per cent believing they are able to brands they don’t have in stores nearby.

On the other hand, two thirds like to actually see a product before purchasing, three in five want to be able to hand pick items and one in five enjoy talking to staff.

Howley added: “These stats only reinforce that brands need to start offering an even more thrilling and enjoyable experience to the shopper, aside from just a good product.

“Brands need to think about the customer retail journey, what can you offer them to get them in store that you can’t get online?

“You need to think about what you can offer in terms of exclusivity, building hype around product drops, offering the Instagram photo-opp, from a fancy wall to some type of entertainment, or even an immersive sensory experience.”

GUEST BLOG: The changing face of customer loyalty

By Dino Forte, CEO, Ventrica

New research shows that 76% of consumers admit they would switch to a competitor if they have just one bad experience with a brand they like.

On the flipside, over half of consumers say that once they’re loyal to a brand, they’re loyal for life. This offers the question – how loyal are consumers actually being towards their favourite brands, and what will it take for a consumer to have a bad experience?

Gaining loyal consumers and advocates is something most brands aim for; but given the research, how far can this really be stretched? Unfortunately, many brands take loyalty for granted. The brands that hold a monopoly over a market, with unique products or services that can’t be found elsewhere, are often the strongest culprits of this, knowing their customers will continue to return regardless of the customer service they provide.

However, even in this situation, delivering a customer experience (CX) that meets the customer’s expectations and needs, is critical. Even for organisations in industries such as utilities where many consumers stay with their provider to avoid the hassle of switching, CX is still key. After all, it is six times more expensive to win new business than to retain it; showing how essential it is for organisations to look after their customers, even if they are confident they won’t leave.

New touchpoints and skilled staff

The fact is, delivering a CX that enables an organisation to remain competitive and encourage the customer to return is a big challenge. With numerous touchpoints now available to today’s consumer – from social media, to the organisation’s website, webchat and phone calls – how can a brand ensure it reaches its customers across all channels but provide the same experience, irrespective of channel?

All consumers will agree that a ‘bad’ CX involves a frustrating experience, long waiting times, unanswered questions, unknowledgeable staff, faulty products or simply not being listened to. Can we really blame them if an experience like this makes them want to switch to a competitor? However, it doesn’t need to be like this.

An organisation’s contact centre should form the heart of the CX it provides, with a trained, dedicated team ready to answer queries and resolve any issues the customer may have experienced across multiple channels. A customer service team should completely embody the persona of the brand; understanding who the customer is, what issue they’re facing and how it can be resolved in a quick, seamless manner that leaves the customer satisfied and eager to purchase a product or service again.

If a bad experience strikes, an organisation can’t blame a customer for wanting to look elsewhere. It’s therefore essential for organisations to put measures in place to ensure that all channels are equipped to provide the best CX possible – so that a customer’s loyalty never comes into question at all. 

Industry Spotlight, Detego: Why omnichannel is ‘everything’ in fashion retail…

It’s clear that omnichannel is key to winning customers in fashion retail and, now more than ever, retail bosses need to be fully aware of customer behaviours both in-store and online – how they move from page to page and view each item; the most popular product categories; the average length of time spent shopping, and so forth.

The concept of omnichannel can be seen as both a huge opportunity and an immense challenge for retailers. For some, it can be experienced as an ‘unrealised dream’ in today’s intensely competitive market. The technology readily available and brick-and-mortar stores can acquire ‘real-time data’ on stock, but how can retailers introduce a beneficial strategy to reap the rewards?

 

Implementing a successful omnichannel strategy

Essentially, to successfully implement a truly omnichannel strategy you need high quality real-time data analysis and smart merchandise management on the single item level, to ensure the consumer follows-through on a desired purchase.

You need to be able to map your customer’s journey, to fully understand how and why they might reach out to browse or buy on different channels at different times.

If you can anticipate and map out the typical customer journey, then you are far more likely to convert to a sale, whether in store or online.

Click & Collect is all well and good, but you need to deliver. Too many consumers have been let down by major retailers over the last few years, due to poor stock control and inventory management. Which is exactly why retailers now need to connect, integrate and bridge their customer experiences online and offline to deliver the seamless omnichannel customer experience today´s consumers expect.

You need to offer real-world personalised customer experiences that create engagement through both in-store and digital means and that can also transform an in-store experience with special touches – such as smart fitting rooms, for example.

The key is in deploying technology that will help you to view and manage your stock inventory in real-time, without having to completely rehaul all of your entire technology systems.

Based on Detego’s proven software suite for business intelligence, which is on the edge of technological advances also in terms of hands-free infrastructure, the solution was deployed in a very short time frame. The fast implementation and deployment was underpinned by a lean and agile approach to immediately realize the aimed business benefits for Denimwall Inc.

We helped to achieve their goals using a variety of technologies to compliment their business vision. A full automated, hands-free RFID ceiling reader system combined with real-time analytics software gave them item level visibility on their garments, plus a mobile application that integrated with our existing retail system all worked together to help them achieve one phase of their overall onmichannel vision.

This is a great example of how an onmichannel vision should be implemented and what it means to deliver stock control for a connected and efficient retail operation. Retailers need to consider a number of elements to achieve this.

First, item-level visibility in real-time and full awareness of the in-store customer is absolutely crucial. How they move and interact with items, where they linger, and what goes into a fitting room with what, in addition to awareness of the online customer – and integration between the two.

Second, implementing predictive analytics can bring a personal shopper experience to each customer whether on the premises or off.

Thirdly, a mapped customer journey helps retailers understand how and why a customer might reach out on different channels at different times.

Last but not least, providing real-world personalised customer experiences can create engagement through digital means and transform an in-store experience with special touches – like smart fitting rooms.

With these elements in place a retailer can automatically collect data about their merchandise, provide accurate inventory information and real-time transparency. Al mobile, 24-7 and hands-free, no matter the size of the operation.

What does this mean? It means that the customer experience is amazing. They find something – in store, online or on a mobile app – and then they can buy and collect it as soon as they want.

And fashion retailers know that customer experience is everything. You can offer the best choice of products via multiple channels. But if you cannot deliver, the customer moves on. Very quickly!

 

Words by Uwe Hennig, CEO at Detego

Industry Spotlight: Is SMS still effective in the retail sector?

With an estimated four billion SMS users worldwide, it is clear that texting still serves its purpose. Despite this, it has been reported that Google may be planning to replace text messaging with Rich Communications Services (RCS) messaging.

There is no disputing the fact that RCS is an exciting technology. It can send images, video and display receipts. However, this does not mean that it is a good idea for any business to remove SMS from its communications roadmap. In fact, text messaging has become so ubiquitous that it has proven itself to be a fundamental element within the whole omnichannel experience.

Consider delivery, an area that online and offline retailers are increasingly becoming involved with getting multichannel communication spot on is key to providing an enhanced customer experience. Consumers today make multiple orders online and want their orders to be delivered quickly, efficiently and, above all, to a sensible timescale; without having to spend hours waiting in for them to arrive. To action this, retailers must keep consumers informed at all stages of the delivery process and SMS is a quick, convenient and inexpensive way of doing so.

In addition, text messages are easy to consume; they have urgency and a trust factor attached; and there were 8.3 trillion text messages sent in 2015 alone.

For example, one of our customers, Home Retail Group, the group behind brands like Homebase and Habitat, sends up-to-date and personalised, text status updates on deliveries. This has resulted in an increased customer satisfaction rate and has reduced inbound calls from customers to the contact centre querying delivery times; boosting the quality of service and slashing costs at the same time.

 

SMS isn’t going anywhere soon

The beauty of SMS is that it provides ‘just-in-time’ information for consumers that are always on the move. It can equip retailers with the opportunity to push valuable information almost instantaneously to customers, including details on special offers and discounts. Retailers can continue a dialogue with consumers by texting new offers after they have purchased products.

Not only is texting still as popular as ever, it can also grab a consumer’s attention more than any other media platform. On average, users take around 90 minutes to respond to an email, for example. The average response time for a text is 90 seconds, according to the Cellular Telephone Industries Association (CTIA).

Texts can also be automated and two-way conversations initiated, while visuals can be added so that customers can click a hyperlink and re-schedule a delivery slot on a product.

SMS is undeniably an easy-to-use, convenient and cost-effective platform which is widely used. All of this incredible functionality means that SMS is here to stay. Yes, RCS, may be waiting in the wings – but SMS continues to reign supreme.

 

Words by Steve Robertson, marketing and sales director at the leading customer contact provider, VoiceSage.

Capita and Tesco Mobile form customer experience focused partnership…

The international business process outsourcing and professional services company, Capita Plc, has announced its partnership with Tesco Mobile to enhance its existing ‘award-winning’ customer service strategy using technology and service design methods.

The deal, which is reported to be worth an estimated £140 million, will run for an initial five-year term and is due to commence on August 1, 2016.

Chief executive at Capita, Andy Parker, said: “With more than 4.6 million customers in the UK, Tesco Mobile is a quality brand renowned for its excellent customer services and, as a result, market leading levels of customer satisfaction. Capita is ideally placed to work in close partnership with Tesco Mobile to continue to enhance the customer experience through greater knowledge of customer behaviours, technology advancements and innovation.

He continued: “Capita has extensive experience working with household names in the private sector and we will leverage our customer experience transformation expertise to enable Tesco Mobile to continue providing flexible, market leading services for customers.”

Approximately 550 permanent employees will transfer to Capita following due consultation under TUPE regulations, and a further 240 temporary staff will continue to work on the Tesco Mobile account under Capita’s management.