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Freshly Baked Customer Experience: Part 1

By James Prebble,

Customer Experience: like fresh baked loaves in a supermarket; an intoxicating way to draw customers towards you. Can't you just smell it?

But what are the ingredients required for an exceptional customer experience in retail?

A sprinkling of personalisation, a splash of transparency, and a liberal amount of seamless cross channel integration - and you’re somewhere close.

Retailers all over the globe are transforming their core operations to improve their customer experience offering and drive sustainable growth. Their mission? To delight customers throughout their journey by providing them with invaluable goods and services with the ultimate goal; to differentiate themselves from their competition and stand out as a clear choice to consumers.

But if you think it’s all about digital and mobile experiences, you’re mistaken. A recent time trade survey showed that 75% of purchases are still being made in-store.

When shoppers enter the store, they’re seeking assistance from a knowledgeable associate; with 85% of shoppers in physical format stores buying more when an associate helps them, and 90% more likely to return to the store again.

The increasingly competitive and fragmented nature of retail, combined with the growing expectations of today and tomorrow’s consumer, makes differentiation in customer experience a much harder challenge than in the past. Leading retailers are weaving technology into their core operations, and that means their stores themselves, their staff and their customer service provisions, by placing data and insight at the forefront of their decision making processes, fast.

Much has been written on the vital ingredients of customer experience in retail, but there are four clear themes in which these descriptors lie, the first of which is discussed below.

Effortless Execution

Effortless browsing, comparison, checkout, delivery, returns and more.

Goods and services should be made readily available at a time, in a place that is convenient for the customer, across channels that work for the customer.

Not exactly revolutionary.

But the key lies in taking time to know customer behaviours and expectations. To really deliver effortless execution requires businesses to take a hard look at journeys from the customer’s perspective to find the pivotal insight around which a new journey should revolve. So before you decide to rip up what you have and creating new pathways to customer delight, take some time to step into their shoes and understand how they might want it to work.

Resist the temptation to look over your shoulder at the way competitors are supporting customers. You shouldn’t be interested in the end results, more in how they got there.

A great example of effortless execution can be found around Kate Spades approach to delivery in NYC. Granted, it is not a full format roll out, but their belief that delivery options should be flexible, trackable and delivered at a place that suits the customer (wherever that may be) delivers a pretty powerful customer experience.

Next week a dash of personalisation and how true personalisation can deliver significant impact to customer experience.

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