Retailers have never faced more pressure to optimise their customer service operations, and those businesses who fail to adapt risk being left behind. Whilst those that successfully adapt reap the benefits
Delivering a great customer experience is critical to the retail industry, and with so much competition, it can be the difference between who consumers decide to engage with and who is ignored. The current retail environment is under increasing demand from customers who expect nothing less than an easy, seamless, omni-channel service experience. Selecting the optimum blend of digital technologies and services allows retailers to respond quickly to customer demand and is therefore essential to the competitiveness of retail businesses.
Whether in-store or online, customers whose shopping experience does not instantly meet their expectations are quick to choose a different retailer. Ensuring integration of the digital and online service improves the buying experience, which can be critical to attracting and retaining customers.
Elevated Customer Expectations There has been a revolution in the behaviour of retail customers, with shoppers now preferring to make purchases online or in-store with the assistance of cutting-edge technology. Customer expectations have been set sky high by the rise of online retail giants and the significant increase of consumer choice. With the acceleration of digital transformation, customers have come to expect a simple, seamless, and omni-channel purchasing experience. Providing the right information in a timely manner is critical to the purchase decision and to retailer competitiveness. Today’s successful retailers aspire to seamlessly integrate the in-store and on-line customer experience.
Failure to take advantage of cutting-edge digital technology can impact customer satisfaction and loyalty. Retail consumers have a short attention span and will quickly determine if a product is right for them.
The Four Key Challenges People – Retailers rely on motivated and engaged employees to serve the needs of the customer. To remain competitive, teams must operate as efficiently as possible. Technology can not only create a better experience for customers, but it can also benefit the employees at the heart of the business.
Adopting digital best practice to unburden employees from repetitive tasks and automate processes, has an important part to play in the drive for efficiency. Providing teams with the tools they need to operate efficiently not only increases agility and flexibility, but also empowers them to deliver value.
Security – With any digital transformation, it is important to balance the availability of information to those who need it with its security throughout the technology refresh project. There is a critical need for trading information to be protected so that trading is not interrupted.
Retailers collect sensitive customer information such as credit card data, addresses, and other personal details. Loss of this data is more than just bad news – it can be catastrophic. So, protecting against data breach and cyber security threats is therefore essential.
Reliability – Unstable technology, such as in-store networks, can undermine the customer experience and detract from the likelihood of a customer repurchase. They typically expect instant and seamless access to product offers. Poorly integrated communications can have a negative impact on trading.
In order to be attractive, the product offer needs to be consistent and compelling both in-store and online. If it’s not, this can cause consumer frustration and negatively affect their purchasing decision. Fortunately, there are a range of technology solutions and vendors available to help integrate these disparate elements to create a truly omni-channel buying experience.
Integration – Using a variety of technologies from disparate vendors is complex to manage and not always cost-effective. Digital transformation offers a convenient opportunity to simplify infrastructure by consolidating to fewer suppliers. Technology can also help retail organisations optimise their trading efficiency by integrating supply chains and facilitating the seamless exchange of information throughout the retail ecosystem.
The Opportunity Implementing a managed, resilient, and cost-effective secure network solution to underpin the digital experience of consumers can enhance the overall customer experience and provide retailers with a competitive edge. By interconnecting stores and capturing data, businesses can gain new insights into what customers are buying and how they buy it. Highly connected supply chain ecosystems create shorter delivery times and can increase business profitability. Furthermore, implementing high-quality in-store Wi-Fi and cutting-edge call-centre solutions can make the buying process smoother, more efficient, and help to attract, engage and delight customers, encouraging long-term loyalty.
There has never been a better time to refresh your customer experience. Those retailers who embrace digital change and experiment with it, will be the ultimate winners in this highly competitive market.
About the Author
James Mingard is Head of Retail & Finance at Maintel. Maintel is a trusted provider of cloud communications and managed services helping customers in both public and private sectors improve their business through digital transformation. We help them to make their people more effective and productive with digital workplace technology. We help them to acquire, develop and retain their own customers with customer experience technology. And we ensure they can always connect to their applications and their data through secure connectivity.