Traditional business wisdom would have it that the right product at the right price is the secret to retail success. But these days, the right customer experience is increasingly seen as the make-or-break factor for a retailer.
Customer experience is an individual’s total experience of your brand over time; all the interactions they have with you, through advertising, sales, complaints and repeat business. Customer experience tells you how people feel about shopping with you while they’re doing it, and how they feel about you afterwards.
Collecting data on your customer experience and analysing it can give you essential information about what’s going on in your stores, both on the high street and online, show you where improvements can be made and give you guidance on the direction the company should be going.
Why is it useful?
Better customer experience drives sales and improves customer retention. One study suggests customers who have a good experience of a brand spend 140% more than those who have a bad one. It goes beyond price cuts and product promotions to get to the heart of why people are shopping with you, and why they’re not.
Positive customer experience promotes loyalty and makes for satisfied customers who come back for more, but it also gives you invaluable guidance on the direction your company should be taking. Should you be investing in better tech support, new product development, physical stores, online presence? Customer experience analysis can give you the data to answer these questions.
Customer Journey Maps
A customer journey focuses on the points at which a customer intersects with your brand. The concept involves walking in a customer’s shoes and seeing their experience through their eyes. Analysing the journey map can give you information on successful elements, areas that need improvement and sources of irritation.
There is a wide and growing market of customer journey mapping software out there which can help you collect the data needed to map customer journey and get feedback on potential points for improvement.
In-Store Customer Journeys
A customer journey applies to how a customer interacts with you at every point. However it can also refer to their physical journey through your store. From what they see in your windows to your entrance area and natural path through the store, you can plan layout to make customers feel welcome, to enable browsing and encourage sales. This clothing store invites customers to follow a clearly laid out path through the store; displaying products on easily accessible racks on the way.
Customer experience doesn’t just apply in a bricks-and-mortar store; the journey happens wherever your customer intersects with your brand, whether it’s in a store, on your website, on a mobile app or through a phone order. Mapping customer journeys needs to take all these channels into account, planning and testing each individual journey.
Subscription coffee bean service Pact is a great example of a strong online customer journey. A clearly signposted website that answers obvious questions up front and a completely customisable sign-up process that makes changing orders, pausing a subscription and adding multiple delivery addresses easy.
Customer journey mapping can become complex because customers don’t always follow the path to a sale you expect or plan. They might discover your brand through a website, visit a physical store to research a product and then download an app to make a final purchase, a journey that crosses several channels unpredictably. This makes customer journey mapping different to many traditional marketing techniques, because it’s often not linear.
So what questions should you be asking about your customer experience?
Is the customer experience memorable?
Customers remember brands that stand out for the right reasons – interactions that pleasantly surprise them. Premium fashion subscription service Trunk Club delivers clothing and shoes in an attractive cardboard ‘trunk’ with a handwritten note from the stylist who selected the items. The unboxing of the product becomes memorable in itself, making the customer feel they are getting an individual service. The handwritten note is the kind of detail people are likely to talk about to others, spreading the good word on a brand.
Is it different?
Standing out from the competition makes for a good customer experience. John Lewis markets itself on the knowledge and impartial advice of its staff, differentiating itself from competitors who rely on the hard sell. The result: customers choose to interact with John Lewis because of this extra service.
Is it authentic?
A good customer journey leaves a lasting positive impression of your brand, and achieving that means communicating emotion. Showing your passion and commitment to what you do makes an impression on a customer, which creates a lasting experience. To achieve this, your employees need to be on board with your vision, delivering it to customers on the shop floor.
“Store Layout”: wobisobi.blogspot.com, https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/380413499748852820/
“Pact Coffee Website”: Pact Coffee, https://www.pactcoffee.com/
“Trunk Club”: Trunk Club, https://www.trunkclub.com/
“Cameras”: John Lewis, http://www.johnlewis.com/