Four Ways Retailers Turn Away Customers

retailers
Four Ways Retailers Turn Away Customers

If you take a company that is already delivering a great customer experience and add time to the equation, what do you get?

For the answer, take a look at this observation from Shoebuy’s SVP of Customer Experience and Retention, Kavita Baball (published in this new article):

“Customer expectations change over time, so even though you may deliver a good experience now, you have to always consider the customer and their changing needs and expectations.”

In all areas of their business, Shoebuy’s MVP is their customers. One more interesting thing about Shoebuy: They offer over 1 million products on their website.

A study reported in Multichannel Merchant magazine analyzed numerous products sold online by retailers. It found that when a new product is added to an ecommerce website, it directly contributes to growth in gross merchandise value. Today, more products (and more unique selections for the customer to choose from) create more revenue overall.

The rules of inventory, selection, price, and placement are bent and broken by changing customer preferences and innovations from the rise of online retailing. It wasn’t so long ago that retailers started creating niche options in their stores and online to appeal to changing consumer preferences. In retail, the unique, personalized, special option is highly valued by consumers today.

Limitless options are available online, so a consumer can find nearly anything he or she wants from a variety of sources. What can retailers do when customers want something unique, just for them, and can get it anywhere?

The only answer is adding value by providing a great customer experience. An amazing thing to note here: Gartner predicts that by 2016, companies in all industries will be competing on customer experience alone.

Until then, retailers should assess how they lose customers over time because of a poor experience. As Shoebuy knows, customer preferences continue to change. What works now may not always be a solid strategy. Fewer than 50% of companies in a Gartner survey said their customer service was exceptional today. If you aren’t putting customers at the center of everything, throughout your business, Gartner’s prediction shows that you are essentially turning away customers. Here are four ways this can happen:

1. Not being able to contact customers. If your contact data is invalid, including email addresses, phone numbers, and postal addresses, it can be really tough to call yourself customer-centric. Bounced emails, returned packages, and wrong numbers hurt the customer experience. When e-receipts aren’t received, or a customer service call isn’t successfully made, or an order is sent to the wrong address, customers are unlikely to be loyal and come back for what they believe will be the same experience.

2. Not providing a single experience across channels. When customers contact you for service or support in your call center, the representative should be able to pull up a full contact record, including past buying histories and other contextual information that helps make the interaction a success. The same applies to your ecommerce site, in-store at point-of-sale, and any other channel. According to Forrester Research, 42% of customer service representatives said they were not able to resolve customer issues effectively due to disconnected systems across multiple applications with outdated interfaces.

3. Offer no additional value. Part of a great customer experience is adding stand-out services, conveniences, and speed to every interaction. Customization options, online support and knowledge centers, and membership for exclusive perks are just a few ways to help your customers while building your authority in the market. Loyalty memberships are a great way in particular for marketers to use, as they provide great perks to customers while giving retailers insight into who their customers are. Add-ons may be perceived as expensive to provide, but 86% of buyers said that they would pay more for a better customer experience, according to survey results from Harris Interactive.

4. Not increasing investments in your marketing technology. More and more, improving every customer interaction throughout all channels is becoming part of the job description for marketers. According to eMarketer, the top reason marketers said they needed new technology investments was to improve customer service and satisfaction. See more on steps you can take to avoid wasting your marketing budget in 2015 in this blog post.

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Being faster, more reliable, innovative, and being there for your customers are all going to be important for retailers in 2015. For more on this topic for retailers, check out this new infographic, “4 Ways Retailers Can Improve Customer Centricity” on the Retail TouchPoints website.

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