A key to business survival may depend on how effectively retailers and other businesses can combine digital and personal customer experience (CX) tactics.
The pandemic came close to nailing the coffin for the livelihood of brick and mortar stores. Despite shoppers’ appeal to the convenience and health safety of online shopping, their hunger for personal shopping experiences is preventing some shop windows from joining the life support victims, or worse.
Surviving retailers are adapting to new shopper trends as retailers emerge from the pandemic. However, all retail operators must come to terms with the post-pandemic retail reality. If they don’t adapt to the new shopper mores, foot traffic won’t return anytime soon.
New normal ‘Disruption as usual’
Brands are moving to accommodate that same customer experience refit to attract both digital and physical foot traffic. Organizations see a future of constant change and constant challenges. According to Celia Fleischaker, chief marketing officer at Celia Fleischaker at Verint. These problems seem to have no solution in sight.
“While brands have overcome the initial shock and disruption of the pandemic, they are now operating in a state of ‘disruption as usual,’ and must respond to continued rapid changes,” she said, referring to this year’s survey that was recently released. revealed in the Global Research on the State of Customer Engagement and Experience report.
New market research shows that shoppers are sticking to the habits they’ve developed while avoiding physical shopping. For example, researchers found that more than 67% of consumers said they would continue shopping online, according to Elissa Quinby, former Amazon leader and now senior director of retail insights at Quantum metrics.
“Twenty percent noted that they prefer to shop online and then use services such as curbside pickup. As consumers gain confidence to re-enter public spaces, retailers need to make the experience as seamless and flexible as possible to maintain their confidence. In-store shopping will only recover if retailers can improve the experience with digital features,” she told CRM Buyer.
Main CX Challenges
Verint recently surveyed more than 2,700 business leaders from various global industries to see how they are adapting. The investigation revealed three main issues:
76% of leaders believe customer engagement challenges will increase this year 71% consider retaining talented employees a moderate or very challenging task 52% have difficulty managing customer engagement due to supply chain issues
Organizations say understanding and acting on consumer behavior and building lasting customer relationships are the top two challenges they will face over the next 12 months. That result echoed similar findings last year.
Companies are embracing the means to support kinder, friendlier and more people-centric engagement. They devise technology-infused strategies to ensure both employee wellbeing and the delivery of empathetic customer engagement.
About 91% have adopted technology and strategies to support greater empathy in their customer engagement efforts for 2022, Fleischaker noted. According to Verint’s research, there is a trend to use artificial intelligence to drive intelligent engagement.
It found that 78% of business leaders say expanding AI and automation are priorities for 2022. It also showed that 84% of organizations plan to invest in technology this year to deliver the right mix of self-service and human engagement. to support.
Multiple tools address customer segments
Different generations value different tools and media for interacting with their favorite brands.
With so many digital options to choose from, and with consumers pulling businesses in multiple directions, brands need to narrow their focus and make sure they’re making the right digital bets when it comes to the customer experience, said Kevin Lazorik, senior vice president for alliances. Bee Hero Digital.
“Businesses need to evaluate where their next digital investment should be and how these companies can better understand their own customers through data to support these decisions,” he told CRM Buyer. “Companies of all sizes are often faced with the difficult decision of where to invest their budget to improve customer experiences and ensure brand quality.”
Younger customers may favor chatbots when seeking support. But older customers may require that they speak to a real person. The same goes for purchasing, returns and all aspects of the customer journey.
In many ways, brands are being pulled in different directions by these generations. The big question is how companies can narrow their focus and make sure they’re making the right digital bets when it comes to their customer experience, she explained.
Merge measurable mashups
For retailers, it’s especially critical that they integrate ways to merge digital and in-person shopping, Quinby noted. While cashierless checkout options and augmented reality storefronts can spark shoppers’ interest, they may not change habits in the long run.
“To keep people coming back to the store, retailers need to ensure that brand experiences are flexible, responsive and personalized no matter where they shop,” she said.
Creative tactics to improve the customer experience are essential. Temporary discounts are no longer enough to let customers shop in person. Major retailers like Target are improving by turning their stores into mini-malls and expanding curbside pickup options, she explained.
Smaller store owners need to be in tune with their target audience and be selective about which digital approaches they can afford, Quinby warned. They depend on their clientele and their customer base and how they encourage that loyalty.
“I think technology will become available in different ways. The closer businesses get to one-to-one personalization, the more they’ll be able to build that brand, trust, and drive that customer loyalty to keep customers coming back and shopping. “
Marketers must have digital momentum
Retail is starting to see a new crop of digital tools coming, Quinby noted. What exactly is available now depends on the type of user.
For example, technology such as virtual reality is already here. The pace of implementation will accelerate over the next two to three years.
“I think the digital merging of the changing rooms will take a little longer. We’re not going to see an actual experience where a mirror takes your measurements and gives you custom sizing recommendations,” she said.
That’s probably more than three to five years out. So it depends on the innovation. But retail clothing stores will start scaling it up as many shoppers are excited to get back into stores, she added.
The number one must-have item on her list for all businesses is personalization. Whether it’s VR technology so you can see something in your home before you buy it or the seamless delivery where you can pick it up at the curb. The catch is making sure the marketing tools are as convenient as possible for shoppers.
Quinby’s other vital digital strategy is to ensure brands are aligned with their mission. Not everything has to be technically possible. However, brands must ensure that the mission alignment is stated so that customers can determine whether their values align with a company’s vision and aspirations.