The customer is king. The customer is always right. Make a customer, not a sale. There are plenty of clichés for retailers to quote when considering customer service. However, with customer expectations inherently dynamic, the bar is constantly being raised by new experiences from across the industry and beyond.
This year, we see retailers focusing ever more closely on customer experience but some retail archetypes are putting a greater emphasis on this area than others.
In our previous report, The Omni-channel Journey, retail boards continue overwhelmingly to emphasise the need to delight customers to drive sales.
However, Omni-channel Pioneers and Omni-channel Followers place more emphasis on this than Challenged Multi-channel retailers. This could leave the Challenged Multis at risk of failing to meet customer expectations as the market moves further towards Omni-channel service standards.
Price, customer service and assortment dominate the landscape, with price re-emerging as a key driver of purchase decisions, alongside customer service.
Omni-channel Pioneers acknowledge the greatest challenge to maintaining brand consistency is delivering uniform customer service, no matter the channel.
However, although Omni-channel Followers also acknowledge the importance of uniform customer service, only a quarter of them place a strong emphasis on it. This may be because they do not yet have a fully integrated operational capability or because they simply do not understand the importance placed on this by the customer. However, this is a clear warning sign as they risk falling further behind Pioneers’ service standards.
We are also seeing a tendency to over promise and under deliver among Challenged Multis who score considerably lower on all counts, placing significant risk on long-term customer service and, as a result, on loyalty and sales.
Worryingly, around a third of retailers claim not to have the tools in place to truly understand their customers.
This reveals a contradiction. Customer satisfaction is a top priority for retailers yet they are not putting in place the tools to effectively measure and report on customer needs and expectations.
Today, it’s critical to have a single view of the customer, their orders and their history, no matter which channel or device they use. This is fundamental to providing the personalised, seamless experiences that customers are increasingly expecting.