COMMENTARY

3 best practices for a retail customer experience assessment

3 best practices for a retail customer experience assessment

Photo by iStock.com

By Kyle Kennedy, chief operating officer, COPC

As a retailer, it is more crucial than ever to truly understand your customers and how you are delivering on their expectations. You are competing with the store down the street, online retailers, and sometimes even your customer's last "great" experience, even if it's not a direct competitor.

Providing a superior experience is the only real differentiator today and is the key to retaining customer loyalty and driving future revenue. While some companies might take a casual approach to auditing their customer experience, conducting a formal audit provides not only results to help meet current customer expectations but also gives you a process for ongoing assessments.

Conducting a customer experience assessment should be an integral part of your retail operation. If you keep in mind three best practices, your assessment will be effective and productive as you discover valuable information about your customers, their journey with your company, and how you can better meet their needs.

These best practices are:
1.    Don't try to boil the ocean: Target the most important channels.
2.    Focus on the effectiveness of your operational processes and performance as it relates to the customer.
3.    Make the assessment process part of your company's culture so it leads to long-term operational change.  

Let's look at each in further detail

1.    Don't try to boil the ocean.  Target the most important channels.

Particularly in a retail environment, there are many channels including face-to-face, online self-help, call center, self-serve kiosks, and distribution channels.  First, decide which channels are most important to your current customers. Usually those channels are the ones with the most volume. Learn how and when those channels are used during the customer journey.

Second, determine — regardless of current sales volume — if there are channels your customers want to use but the channel is not performing well.  For example, if your mobile application is not robust, the volume currently could be low. However, it still may be an important channel that your customers want to use, and this is a missed opportunity.

Taking into account both the highest volume and strategically important channels, do not try to assess all channels at once.  Create a strategy to go from the most important to the least, both strategically and quantitatively.

Doing this type of analysis can also yield the side benefit of telling you which channels you should be in (or not be in), so you can fine tune your channel strategy. Conducting a CX assessment allows you make more informed decisions about exactly where to focus your human and financial resources to best meet customer expectations.

2.    Focus on the effectiveness of your operational processes and performance as it relates to the customer.

Often, companies look at processes to see if they are meeting expectations. However, you should first take a step back and determine whose expectations you are trying to meet. While your customer engagement processes might meet internal guidelines and requirements, you must ensure those processes translate into a positive customer experience. 

Sometimes policies and procedures that retail staff are instructed to carry out do not appear useful or beneficial to the customer. In fact, during our CX assessments for clients, we often find a company policy or process is to blame for a low customer satisfaction (CSAT) score. The good news is that this performance issue, once found, is something that can be easily addressed and remedied.  

Once you have determined that your policies are customer-focused, then you can spend 100 percent of your effort to ensure that your processes are carried out in a way that enhances your customer's experience.

3.    Make the assessment process part of your company's culture so it leads to long-term operational change. 

The customer experience assessment should not be a one-and-done project, but rather, a sustainable process. Performing assessments on an ongoing basis can be transformational to the culture of any retail organization.

Understanding your customer's experience should become part of your organization's DNA. When that happens, you will see the findings from these ongoing assessments as opportunities to know your customer better, which in turn allows you to better serve that customer.

Exceeding customer expectations improves customer loyalty, which translates into higher revenue. Plus, your brand's focus on the customer experience will attract new customers who are seeking relationships with companies that best serve their needs.

 


Topics: Customer Experience


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