Customers are smart- a lot smarter than they are often given credit for. These days customers have access to more information than ever before and can source this information from multiple devices at the drop of a hat. In short, customers are resourceful, savvy, and want to be treated as such.
Retailers need to assume that the customer already knows a lot before shopping on their site or in store. Most customers will pre-research their purchases before they start shopping, however in the end it’s the retailer’s job to convince them to make the purchase with their store over somebody else’s based on the experience they provide.
Customers want to be in the driver’s seat, and it’s up to retailers to put the right tools and services in place to make the ride a worthwhile one.
Here are 5 ways you can empower your customer with the resources they need to experience a personalised and meaningful shopping journey.
1. Optimise the Channels Customers Want
Data analysis is critical to understanding which channels your customers use the most and highlighting where there is demand for improvement. Your brand needs to let customers be in charge on this front and have faith that they know what does and doesn’t work for them. An important point to remember here is that these channels need to be designed in a way that validates the customer’s intelligence. This means making processes simple and easy without talking to your customer like you’re writing a manual for dummies. Optimising channels that customers want and use also highlights where innovation is necessary. If you’re going to innovate, it’s essential that you do so for the right reason, and that reason should always be driven by the need to alleviate a customer pain point.
2. Be the Resource They Need
Although there’s oodles and oodles of information out there, it can often be hard to find information that’s reliable and relevant. It’s up to your brand to suspend your customers’ suspicions by serving them resources based on facts, not marketing fluff, and most importantly resources that will help them to make the right decision. Perhaps customers want a compare/contrast function for different products/services to make the process easier, or more detailed product descriptions. Whatever the knowledge gap may be, your brand has the power to fill it. If your store has both physical and online functions, perhaps it could be a matter of levelling out discrepancies between the online and instore experience. This could mean ensuring that a customer has the same ability to learn about a product/service when shopping online as they do instore, or vice versa.
3. Keep it Flexible
Customers have a right to choose what they do and don’t want, and while this doesn’t mean that we want them to pack up camp and move onto somewhere else, the process to do so shouldn’t resemble a lengthy obstacle course. I think we’ve all been in that position at least once before where we’ve had to jump through hoops for something that should have been plain and simple. Customers want freedom to make their own decisions, and they will respond well to retailers who recognise this need for freedom by giving them easy opt out/in options, whether that be for a promotion, a product return, or service renewal. It’s time to let go of rigid models and start offering flexible, customisable services that suit customers. Let them interact with you on their own terms, and work with them to modify a service if need be. They won’t be afraid to pull the plug if you try to keep them locked on a chain.
4. Optimise your Feedback Loop
Customers have a voice, and your brand needs to provide them with the most efficient method to use it. Feedback needs to be made easy and straightforward so that suggestions can be communicated and then acted on. Your brand needs to make sure that there is a regular opportunity for this process to happen so that it is easy for customers to access updates on what action has been taken, or at least know when they can expect to see results. Once customers can see that their voice is making an impact, in turn they will feel empowered and valued because they can see that their words aren’t lost in space.
5. Save their Time
Customers are time poor, and while they want to be able to do things for themselves, it’s your job to make this process as time efficient as possible. One useful strategy here could be introducing, or updating, your self-service options. If a customer wants to be able to complete the entire shopping journey alone, including the customer support stage after purchase, your brand needs to have the right tools in place to make this possible. It could be as straightforward as regularly updating your website FAQs or creating new tutorials as services and products change. These strategies may sound simple, but it can be incredibly easy to fall behind on small tasks like these that amount to great value for customers. It’s also important to note that human help should still be very easily accessible should the customer need it at a certain point on their self-service journey.
What these points illustrate is that customers want to be their own expert, and it is retailers who can empower them to be the masters of their own customer experience.
Customers need to be treated with the respect that they deserve, and there’s no better way to pay them this respect than by taking the time to put your best tools, technology, and resources forward to create a seamless, hassle free journey from start to finish.