The statistics speak for themselves. 84% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services. A further 61% of customers will switch to another brand after just one bad experience.
As the retail and distribution landscape continues to grow, accelerating towards a value of around $30 trillion by 2024, companies have no choice but to ensure they can compete based on customer experience. To meet with expectations, companies need to invest in the latest CX tools and solutions available, from self-service AI bots to workforce management tools and CCaaS.
If you’re struggling with presenting the benefits of a new CX investment to your shareholders, here’s our guide for building a business case for CX in retail.
Step 1: Look at the Evolving Retail and Distribution Space
Customer expectations in the retail world have changed significantly over the last couple of years. Increasingly, your customers expect to be able to connect with distributors and retailers across a range of channels, both online and offline. Customers don’t just want variety in their shopping experience, they want a truly aligned omnichannel journey.
The right CX strategy, combining CRM insights into the customer purchasing map with CCaaS solutions, allows retailers to provide a more connected experience to buyers. You can track customer interactions through social media, and online stores, as well as collecting information about your in-person shoppers and their preferences.
CX solutions can even offer ways to connect the online and offline retail environment. Companies can build loyalty programs to reward customers shopping in any environment, and use beacons and SMS tools to send specific deals to customers based on their physical location. As technology evolves, we’re even seeing the evolution of tools like AR codes which allow customers to scan an out-of-stock item in-store, and have it delivered to their home.
Step 2: Find Ways to Enhance Your Workforce
Research from Gartner indicates that to truly thrive in the new age of retail and distribution, companies need to update their “experience strategy”. Rather than focusing on customer experience and employee experience as two separate entities, teams should be looking at building a campaign for better “Total Experience”, or TX.
After all, to deliver an exceptional experience in the retail space, companies need to first empower their workforce. Employees throughout the retail and distribution space will need to have access to the same information about products, customers, and processes, to ensure they can deliver great service. Implementing CX tools can be an excellent way to enhance the workforce, and improve the overall outcomes of the business at the same time.
For instance, workforce engagement and management tools built into your CCaaS environment can make it easier to track the performance of teams wherever they are, and align staff even when they’re working in hybrid environments. CRM integrations in your CCaaS solution make it easier for employees to track customer information and deliver personalised experiences.
Even the bots that help your customers to leverage the power of self-service can also guide employees in troubleshooting common problems and finding answers to queries faster.
Step 3: Consider Customer Trends
Retail and distribution companies need to be agile and adaptable to survive in the modern landscape. As buyer preferences and expectations evolve, any brand failing to keep up with the latest patterns will end up being left behind. For instance, most retail companies now need to have an online environment where customers can purchase products, as well as an offline store.
However, it’s not enough to simply invest in ecommerce, companies also need to ensure the experience of interacting with the brand online is consistent with the offline experience. This means implementing more tools to help guide customers through the purchasing journey, and provide them with an excellent overall experience.
Businesses are beginning to experiment with video-conferencing tools built into their CCaaS environments, so they can provide customers with face-to-face guidance when they’re making a purchase online. Some companies are creating intelligent bots which can assess a customer need and make suggestions about what to buy based on their preferences.
Staying up-to-date with customer trends also means giving your audience more control over their own purchasing journey. Investing in CX solutions like chatbots and AI tools can open the door to more self-service experiences for the digitally native consumer.
Step 4: Focus on the Present and the Future
To an extent, ensuring success in the current retail environment means being able to not only adhere to current trends, but predict and adapt to future ones too. At a time when consumer preferences and demands are changing so rapidly, the only way to compete is to ensure you have access to the right data. CX solutions can help with collecting the right insights.
Many of the top CX tools in the market today, from chat bots and digital experience tools to CCaaS solutions, have in-built mechanisms for collecting information. These solutions can record customer conversations for meaningful insights with sentiment analysis, or use AI to predict future trends based on historical data. Your CRM solution also provides an insight into the variety of different consumers in your ecosystem, allowing you to create more personalised experiences for each user.
The more data you can collect from your CX tools, the more you can adapt your retail strategy to suit the needs of your audience as and when they evolve. A combination of real-time analytics and historical reporting in the modern retail space will guide companies in a host of decisions. You can use the information you collect to decide which products to invest in when you need to bring more members of staff on-board for service and more.
Step 5: Invest in Differentiation
Finally, it’s worth noting that the retail and distribution environment is extremely saturated. There are countless different vendors out there, many of which are competing for the same audiences, in a very similar space.
While investing in great products and choosing the right pricing points can help your business to stand out, few things are more important than customer experience in driving buyer decisions. 96% of consumers even say customer experience is essential to brand loyalty, meaning your CX could determine how many repeat purchases you get.
Investing in the right tools for CX can set you apart from your competition, and drive endless opportunities for growth. You can start with simple investments, like using AI and automation to deliver self-service and provide insights into the customer journey. If you really want to stand out from the crowd, you can even explore more unique solutions, like bringing XR technology into the retail experience to help immerse customers in better buying decisions.
Building a business case for new technology can be difficult, but in the retail world, CX solutions are well-worth the investment.