The proverbial walls segmenting the customer experience from one channel to the next are quickly becoming a major focus of retailers and other businesses.
It’s clear what numbers are telling us about today’s trends: more digital, more mobile and more social media engagement from company to consumer. However, hiring a digital specialist and giving them a budget to start creating, facilitating and expanding digital platforms for customer engagement isn’t enough.
Customers’ demands and expectations have never been greater as word now spreads at the speed of a megabit, and demand calls for seamless integration of all these channels in order to create a consistent message and brand.
Companies are always trying to figure out what customers want and what they need to know in order to have an effective call to action. Choose your medium: Post on Facebook, update the website, design a new window display. Those things are relatively simple, but chances are there is little, if any, communication or collaboration between the departments handling those things, which ultimately increases the chances of having three separate messages instead of a clear and consistent one.
The silos we create when segmenting our business functions are for efficiency’s sake, not the customer’s. While moving money from one department to the next can help a company stay afloat, particularly in troubled times, it’s the customer that ultimately moves the bottom line.
Today, customers are utilizing more than one device when purchasing from retailers. And, at times, they’re utilizing more than one device on one purchase.
Consider a trip to Best Buy. A customer wants to actually hold a new Bluetooth speaker prior to purchasing it in hopes of avoiding a return in the near future in the event of any dissatisfaction. Standing in the aisle chatting with a store associate, the customer pulls out their smartphone, and the search for consumer reviews, price comparisons and better options ensues, if it hadn’t already prior to the customer reaching the store.
If BestBuy.com or their mobile app weren’t there, they’d likely be out of the picture. A customer can easily walk away from a purchase if a consistent message isn’t there and even more so if the products or sale prices are different from one channel to the next. In order to even get into the competition for a sale, a company needs to have a consistent customer experience throughout its offerings.
If you’re having a seasonal sale on certain items, be sure to promote it on multiple channels in the same manner in order to leave an effective trail of breadcrumbs for potential customers. These channels don’t compete with one another; they complement one another. Working together will always benefit the whole.
Imagine Amazon decides to open up a large-scale retail store, which isn’t that far-fetched considering the e-tail giant continues to open staffed pickup locations near college campuses across the country and is expanding Amazon Books locations. Customers would immediately create expectations for this store. One might see it as an extension of their giant fulfillment centers, following the superstore concept. Perhaps, they might even go so far as employing a brood of drones as sales associates.
It would be up to Amazon to ensure their message stays consistent with the conclusions customers have already drawn about the company – quick delivery, vast inventory, reasonable prices, innovative solutions – in order to meet customer expectations and sustain customer engagement, which ultimately creates greater customer loyalty, more opportunities to reach more customers and a better bottom line.
As the retail world continues to evolve, so too should the way we communicate with customers.
Retail Dive and Digimarc released a "playbook" white paper on this topic today:
Bricks and Clicks Converging at Retail