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Topic(s): Metrics & Methodology Customer Experience CX & Business Strategy

Improving customer experience in Retail: our best practices

The retail industry has been through an enormous evolution over the past decade. It's almost impossible to think of a time when you could only buy things in a physical store. Today, there's a huge offering of products that you can buy online, basically anywhere, at any time. Whereas online stores may be quicker to meet customer’s expectations, brick-and-mortar stores can offer an added value that digital can’t. In this shifted retail landscape, the two ways of business complement each other.

During economically difficult times, customers are hyper-aware of where and how they spend their budgets. That's why investing in the ultimate customer experience (CX) matters, now more than ever. 

The importance of customer experience in retail 

Why should you care about CX as a retailer? It shouldn’t come as a surprise that offering a great customer experience boosts your business. In a time where customers can easily hop between brands that offer the same product or service, a good customer experience makes you stand out from your competitors. 

According to a Salesforce survey, the retail industry is in the top three ranking industries for experiences. This means that customers find retail the third best industry when it comes to having a good experience. The same survey showed that 84% of customers find a company's experience as important as its products and services. So, it goes without saying that the importance of CX in retail can’t be overlooked. 




Measure, manage, and mastering CX in retail with NPS, CSAT and CES 

Before taking action to optimize your customer experience, the first step should be obvious: what is the state of your CX now? To evaluate your current CX, you’ll need to capture data that lets you measure relevant customer experience metrics such as NPS, CSAT, or CES with a voice of the customer program.

  • NPS (Net Promotor Score) gives you insight into customer loyalty. Would they recommend you to their friends, colleagues and family?
  • CES (Customer effort Score) gives you insight in your customer convenience. How easy or hard was a certain interaction with your business?
  • CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Score) gives you insight in your current customer satisfaction. How satisfied is your customer with a certain interaction with your business?

While the survey scores will show you how you're doing, scores on their own have little meaning: a score is nothing but a number. By combining them with open feedback, you gain insights into the reasons behind the scores you receive from customers. The result? When you truly understand your customer’s frustrations, you can tackle them in a targeted way. 

So, what should be improved to increase your customer experience? A VoC program combined with open feedback will show you what to look at (first):

Finally, it's also very important that customer feedback reaches the right department. This is much harder for mid market and enterprise companies with hundreds or thousands of employees and multiple branches. A feedback management tool can help you tackle that problem.

Consistency is key

As you know, the customer journey doesn’t start when a customer walks into your store. It starts when they have a need or wish in their everyday life. Before purchasing a product, they might explore your website, subscribe to your newsletter, or scroll through your social media channels. They won't even just explore your solution or product, they will also look at your competitors. Salesforce states that customers interact with an average of nine channels when they purchase a product from a company. In-store retail is not a stand-alone journey, it’s part of a bigger omnichannel journey that covers both physical and digital touchpoints. 

So, the customer experience should meet your customer’s expectations and needs across all touchpoints. Take this example: a customer is very satisfied with the personal advice they received in one of your stores. However, when the customer wants to install the product at home, the manual is missing, and your online customer support team is unreachable. How will your customer feel about you now? The good doesn’t always outweigh the bad. 

By focusing on an omnichannel approach and ensuring consistency across all your channels throughout the customer journey, you take away frictions at all touchpoints, meet your customer’s expectations and establish a relationship of trust. 

Personalizing the retail customer experience

If you decide to implement an omnichannel strategy, you’ll soon notice that it goes hand in hand with a personalized customer experience. Personalization entails understanding your customer’s expectations and needs and adapting based on their behavior and actions. It comes down to tailoring the customer experience and treating your customer as an individual, not as a number. 

The (not-so-)secret weapon to personalize the customer experience? Data! Gather data through customer feedback and leverage it with the data that’s already in your systems. For example, your ticketing system tells you more about your customer support processes, data from your CRM gives you additional information about your customers, or transactional data reveals info like the purchase orders, the store or branch, and so on.  

Relevant data insights tell you exactly what you need to know, such as your customer’s expectations, purchasing behavior, and online activity. This is where your omnichannel approach comes in: setting up a personalized experience includes all touchpoints, from emails to to customer service contact. 

So, what’s in it for you? A high level of personalization along the customer journey will enhance customer engagement and loyalty and stimulate your company’s revenue.  




Building customer loyalty

Building customer loyalty is one of the most important KPIs for retail. And how do you make sure your customers stay loyal long-term? You guessed it: by offering the best customer experience. The better your CX, the more likely your customers are to become or remain loyal. 

Customer loyalty goes beyond your product and service offers. It establishes a connection between your customer and your company on an emotional level. Customers who feel seen, heard and enjoyed their experiences with your company will become loyal, which can be achieved by personalizing the customer experience on all levels and channels.  

Long-term loyalty results in higher profitability, as explained by the 3 Rs of customer loyalty: retention, repeat purchase, and referral. A satisfied customer will remain a customer over time, which creates a steady revenue stream for your business. Nothing proves customer loyalty more than a customer that buys your products repeatedly. As a company, your loyal customers are your most valuable resource when you develop new products. And customers that have put their trust in you are more likely to buy a product that’s exactly tailored to their needs. Cross-selling reduces your costs since existing customers require fewer marketing efforts. And lastly, loyal customers tend to recommend your company to their friends and family, saving you customer acquisition costs and allowing you to drive new business. 

More loyalty among your customers leads to customers that stay, buy more, and recommend you, which ultimately increases the customer lifetime value and… more growth for your business. 

Learn from other retailers 

Our retail customers managed to upgrade their customer experience by using our customer feedback analysis platform. We gave them the insights they need to find out where they can improve as a retailer, both online and offline.  

  • Standaard Boekhandel: staying relevant as a retailer

Standaard Boekhandel is a Belgian retail franchise with a strong leading position in the book market in Belgium. This market is constantly changing, and retail has evolved into an increasingly omnichannel environment. How do they maintain their leading position? They use customer feedback to implement strategic decisions and take precise, targeted actions.  

As a result, Standaard Boekhandel has seen an increase in customer retention and customer centricity. Since their products also have a digital alternative (e-reader), they face more competition. The insights from the feedback allowed them to remain successful in a competitive market and keep on offering quality products and services in an omnichannel environment. For example, thanks to the feedback, they have improved their click and collect services.  

Discover the complete customer case 

  • Cassis-Paprika: creating the ultimate in-store experience 

The fashion retailer Cassis-Paprika wants their in-store service to make a difference and highly values offering a unique customer experience. To achieve this, they needed a continuous flow of feedback about their store experience and, additionally, their e-commerce activities.  

By capturing feedback both online and in-store, the company has improved its sales performance and they are now able to continuously improve the customer experience and exceed expectations. Cassis-Paprika achieved a high response rate (minimum of 10%) from their customers in their stores. This shows that customers are eager to share their opinion and value a company that puts its customers first. Additionally, Cassis-Paprika gained insights into other KPIs that drive retail businesses, such as variety, in-store offer, and pricing.  

Discover the complete customer case 


In a nutshell

So, do you want to step up your CX game? Start by implementing our best practices to optimize the CX for retailers: 

  • Evaluation and data collection to know your current CX position 
  • Omnichannel point of view to create a seamless shopping experience overall 
  • Data-driven personalization to meet a customer’s individual needs and expectations
  • And a combination of these three aspects to build a loyal customer base and turn one-time shoppers into loyal customers 

Improving your customer experience is not a one-time effort. It’s a continuous process of capturing data & feedback, investing in customization, and ensuring consistency across your channels. In the end, everybody wins. When you invest in optimizing your customer experience, your customer loyalty will increase, which ultimately drives your company’s growth and revenue, and turns you into a retail powerhouse. 

Don’t know where to start your journey to the ultimate customer experience? Discover how Hello Customer can help you improve customer experience in retail.