It’s the age of the customer and retailers are getting serious about how they implement and manage the customer experience.
Today’s consumers live multi dimensional, multi platform lives and their buying behaviours reflect the same complex dynamics. These days it’s rare for a customer to be a ‘purely online’ or ‘purely bricks and mortar’ consumer; increasingly they expect their retailer of choice to provide convenience, choice and seamless interaction across all channels. All of this puts increasing pressure on retailers to deliver a consistent customer experience – and by implication, brand experience – whatever the channel.
However, in a thought leadership and research report commissioned by Qmatic and entitled “Great Expectations” Vanson Bourne, a specialist technology market research company, has revealed that there is a disconnect between how retailers rate their performance and customer perceptions of actual service delivery. In an in-depth survey of online and offline channels undertaken with 100 UK retail decision makers and 500 consumers, Vanson Bourne found that, while retailers believe that overall they’re performing well – with 82% stating their organisation provides a good or extremely good customer experience – 72% of consumers confirmed they’ve encountered inconsistencies in their customer experience when using a retailer’s online and in-store channels.
In several of my previous blog posts I have written about the importance of the store. In the post. The surprising gap in the modern Customer Experience I highlight the importance of human interaction in a more and more connect world. In the post Shoppers using multiple retail channels spend more money I provide evidence that shoppers using more than one channel spend more money with retailers. And in the post Why 90% of Your Customers Leave After a Single Bad Experience – And What To Do About It I highlight 6 concrete areas to work with in improving the face to face touch points and how to seamlessly integrate the store with the virtual world.
So, clearly customer experience in the physical store is becoming ever more pivotal to overall brand perceptions and purchasing behaviours. Getting it wrong risks contamination across all channels – and ultimately leads to less engaged and less loyal customers. Indeed, the report also states that in the last 12 months around 31% of consumers confirmed that they had abandoned purchasing from a retailer because of a poor customer experience.
Therefore it is quite surprising that this new research find such a significant disconnect between the retailers and their customers. For me it indicates that many retailers still have a long way to go in delivering on the great words of being “multi-channel”, “omni-channel” and/or “seamless”.
The first place to start is to make an outside-in and honest evaluation of the current state – with this as a base it’s then possible to start moving on the path to customer experience maturity.