Having a great product isn’t enough to compete anymore in today’s market. Nine out of ten marketers now regard customer experience as the key competitive differentiator, even outranking factors as important as price and quality. Today’s independent retailer needs to cultivate a reputation for stellar customer experience in order to attract shoppers away from competitors and build brand loyalty. Here are four steps you can take to improve your customers’ experience in order to meet and exceed their expectations, keep them coming back for repeat business and make them want to tell their friends to buy what you sell.
Offer Customized Selection
Companies such as Nike have pioneered the successful use of mass personalization, where customers can select from digital options in order to choose customized products. Experts see mass personalization as the future of retail, but many companies have yet to catch on. Digital marketing provider Lyris has found that only 24 percent of marketers use personal information they receive from customers in order to customize the value they deliver. Meanwhile, over 70 percent of customers feel jaded because they are used to receiving impersonal marketing offers.
You can stand out from competitors who haven’t yet caught on to mass personalization by making efforts to customize your selection for individual customers. If your product line lends itself, you can follow Nike’s strategy of enabling customers to choose custom selections. For instance, jewelry retailer Argos uses 3-D printing to allow customers to choose personalized rings, earrings, pendants and bangles.
Make Personalized Offers
Marketing offers can also be personalized for individual customers. For example, Amazon does this by suggesting products to customers based on items they have previously purchased and based on items bought by other customers who purchased or browsed the same things. In a similar way, your web designer can set up your website to display customized selections based on customer browsing and purchase history.
Another way to extend personalized offers is to use mobile location marketing techniques. For example, you can geotarget all customers in a certain area with an offer specific to their location.
Offer Loyalty Rewards
Another customer experience technique Amazon has used to great success is offering free shipping through its Amazon Prime program. This program has been so successful that the entire retail calendar has been restructured around Amazon’s annual Prime Day sale. Depending on your product, free shipping for special customers might make sense for your company as well. RJMetrics contributor Anna Kegler provides a formula you can use to figure out where your free shipping price threshold should be based on your company’s order history and your products’ price points.
Provide Support Channels Customers Prefer
Another way to enhance your customers’ experience is to provide the customer service channels they prefer. You can dramatically improve your customers’ satisfaction as well as your efficiency by offering self-service options using tools such as online knowledge bases to answer FAQs. Seventy-two percent of American consumers prefer self-service to traditional support channels, Forrester found.
Live chat is another channel that can boost customer satisfaction. A Zendesk study found that live chat achieved a 92 percent customer satisfaction rate, which is higher than any other channel.
Self-service and live chat can improve your customers’ experience, but for optimal experience, you should also offer live phone service options. Being unable to get a hold of a live human on the phone is Americans’ biggest customer service complaint. Offering a 1-800 number is an easy way to make your customers happier with you and complain about your competitors instead.