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5 CX trends that could be hurting your retail business

Is your business delivering a significant customer experience or just processing transactions? Even if you think you are rendering a standout experience, shoppers may feel opposite, according to the 2019 CX Trends Report from InMoment. While half of the brands in the survey think they are “definitely” giving a better customer experience than last year, only 11% of customers agreed.

There are five key trends the CX Trends survey identified that retailers could learn from and use to improve the customer experience.

1. Lurking versus listening

How do you get to know what your consumers think of your business? Do you “listen” to their social media remarks, read their reviews, or employ digital tools to track their online action? When asked about the most significant thing businesses can do to find how customers feel, customers overwhelmingly need to be asked directly. Almost 70% of consumers favor this option, but just 26% of businesses engage in direct dealings with customers about their experiences.

Solution: Stop lurking and focus on listening. Make it easy for consumers to tell you how they feel. Provide as many channels as possible for them to contact you and share their experiences, comments, and concerns. Be active and take action on their suggestions and requests.

2. Dismissing the human factor

Companies in the survey greatly underrate the value of human interaction. When asked about the most important thing companies can do to improve consumer experiences, 42% of customers chose “better service from staff.” However, just 24% of businesses put communication with employees first. This finding is consistent with InMoment’s 2017 and 2018 reports.

Workers can make or break the client experience—74% of consumers surveyed in 2017 said negative staff communications resulted in a bad experience. But 65% of customers said staff employee interactions profoundly influenced their choices to buy more.

Solution: Hire individuals who have exceptional people skills and empower them to do what it takes to improve the customer experience. Brick-and-mortar stores should have sufficient staff on the sales floor on any provided day. Using worker scheduling software can help administrators quickly adjust schedules as needed—calling in extra workers on a busy day, for example.

3. Pathetic personalization

Technology is enabling personalization to an unprecedented degree, but are you using personalization the right way? Some 42% of businesses in the survey think personalization makes customers feel cared for; however, just 21% of customers agree.

What’s the problem? Many companies use personalization to push products—not to improve the customer experience. About half (48%) of consumers want businesses to know their prior buying habits, and 45% want businesses to know their history of interaction with the company (such as emails, chats, and social media engagement).

Solution: Sending personalized emails and offers isn’t a bad thing, but there’s much more you can do with customized knowledge. Use the data you gather about customer behavior to improve the experience, not just for one customer but all customers.

4. Neglecting non-buyers

Why do buyers leave your website or shop without making a purchase? In the case of online buyers, several probably weren’t there to purchase in the first place. Almost three-quarters of purchasers who leave a website without making a purchase were just there to survey or research products. In brick-and-mortar stores, 40% of non-buyers are “just browsing,” but another 40% leave without purchasing because they couldn’t find what they needed.

Brick-and-mortar shops in the study largely underestimate how often customers find the products they want are out of stock. The “instant gratification” of getting the product in their hands is a key purpose people visit physical shops, so if too many products are out of stock, your store could eventually be out of business.

Solution: Use inventory management software to manage inventory and ensure popular products are in stock. Show non-buyers you value them, too. (Just because they didn’t buy this time doesn’t mean they won’t buy next time.) Train in-store staff to ask questions and help customers when products aren’t quickly available. For instance, send follow-up emails or offers, offer to contact them when the product is back in stock, or order the product online for them.

5. Divergent definitions of loyalty

A loyal customer is one who comes back and purchases from your business repeatedly. However, the survey revealed another definition. Loyal customers who feel invested in your industry are willing to share their ideas with you and give you more than one opportunity to make things right when they go wrong. This type of loyalty can be just as important as purchasing because it helps you better your business.

Solution: Encourage effective criticism from customers. (Think of it as a gift rather than an insult.) In addition to customer surveys and direct interaction, allow consumers to share their feedback on your website (the place where 37% of shoppers want to tell you about their experience). Just 5% want to share negative information on a review site, so don’t rely on online reviews as your sole source of feedback.

Customer experience is a significant differentiator in the retail world. The closer you get to your customers, the better you can meet their expectations.

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