Winning the CX Game in the UK
With the ability to do anything online, from getting your eyes checked to collecting rewards for grocery shopping, it should come as no surprise that the UK retail industry is increasingly starting to go digital. As the UK retail market continues to shift to digital, e-commerce is predicted to take up over 25% of all retail volume by 2021. To win customer experience (CX) in the UK, retailers are making their best efforts to reach customers that haven’t been met by their traditional bricks and mortar strategies.
It’s becoming evident that, in order to remain competitive, companies that traditionally have relied on in-store performance need to offer an excellent online presence in order to remain relevant and successful. Even the most loyal customers are starting to shift away after a single less-than-excellent experience with companies that they used to love. With market saturation at an all-time high, the best way to make yourself known is to start treating support and your sales cycle as a part of your product. It needs just as much intentionality and focus as the physical goods that you sell.
In our recent ebook, Winning the CX Game in the UK, we introduce some key trends surrounding the retail customer experience in the UK. It’s no longer just about how much you can sell—instead, customer-centric metrics like net promoter score, customer satisfaction, omnichannel offerings and first contact resolution rates are the currency of the day. Exploring the state of the industry provides clear examples of opportunities to better your customer experience across the board, especially as it pertains to customers that frequent both your bricks-and-mortar space and your ecommerce site.
Here are a few of the ways that UK retail companies are upping their game to increase retention and boost customer loyalty.
It should come as no surprise that if you’re trying to support two separate retail environments (virtual and in-store), you will also need to support omnichannel sales and support for your customers. Omnichannel is the integration of multiple methods of contact and interaction for a customer’s benefit, both for support and via a company’s marketing site. It goes a step beyond multi-channel by blending the multiple channels together – so that no matter where a customer comes into contact with your business, they have the same seamless experience. In retail, this means that customers are able to buy or receive support online, via their phone or computer, and also in an in-person store. It also means that the same services that are offered in-store should be offered online with the same level of ease. A prime example of a place where most companies fall behind in this experience is processing online returns.
Our research discovered that in UK retail, 68% of UK shoppers expect the same high-quality retail experience whether shopping in-store or online, however, nearly 61% of shoppers find their shopping experience inconsistent between channels. This is evidence that, while many companies could benefit from implementing omnichannel, many have yet to do so. Taking the step towards omnichannel will help you elevate your experience to be a cut above the rest.
Proactive customer service
Most customers do not want to reach out to customer service, and would much rather be able to find the answer on their own. But, imagine how much better of an experience it is when they get the answer before they even realize they need it? When your company provides proactive, personalised service and sales for your customers, it has myriad benefits:
- Increased sales through personalised coupons and marketing
- Boosted satisfaction across all customer segments
- Heightened retention of existing customers
- Decreased number of tickets and conversations coming through support channels
- Increased first contact resolution rates.
58% of UK retailers currently provide different answers to the same questions across multiple channels—not only is that inefficient when it comes to your support team’s time, it’s frustrating for customers to not be able to trust the answers they are being given. By implementing proactive customer service through things like how-to product videos, better searchability in your documentation, and even automated shipping emails, you benefit all members of your company ecosystem.
In retail, proactive service might include creating an automated system that reaches out to people when they have abandoned carts, or if they provide constructive insights on how a fulfilled order should look. If you implement a simple system that contacts customers who might need your help and that escalates follow up questions to a human automatically, you will already be outrunning your competition when it comes to excellent customer experience.
When people think of AI, it often isn’t in the context of retail or online shopping. But the fact of the matter is that many people actually expect and like to talk to chatbots when going through their shopping experience. In fact, 51% of consumers prefer it.
Amazon’s customer service workflow is a great example of using AI in a retail scenario. They use an automated chat system that guides people through most processes, such as returning, reporting a problem, or searching for a lost package. Outside of that, though, the AI is intelligent enough that it is able to escalate a customer’s issue to a human agent in the event that it isn’t something the machine can handle. Currently, only 21% of UK retailers have implemented technology like this.
While many retailers use AI to better their support offerings, there are still significant opportunities (like the one above) that are getting missed. By identifying key areas where you could be automating, you open your customer service reps’ time up to focus on bettering the deeper, less-surface-level aspects of your customer experience. For example, rather than having your employees handle a routine return conversation, they could be working with someone to debunk a case of credit card fraud, or the loss of an important one-of-a-kind item. Those types of interactions require a human touch and problem-solving, while most returns shouldn’t. In fact, a customer might be frustrated by having to wait for something that should just be automated. Create the kind of support that empowers the customer, if possible, to find what they need on their own or with the help of a bot, rather than needing to wait for the assistance of a human being if it’s not necessary.
As retail in the UK shifts away from bricks-and-mortar stores increasingly towards virtual offerings or a blended approach, your company strategy needs to shift with it. The numbers are in the customers’ favor. As products become less differentiated and customer experience becomes increasingly homogenised, the experiences that you offer your customers is becoming increasingly valuable. Work to make them excellent. Customers are looking for personalised, intentional messaging from companies that they believe care about the same things as they do, and as a modern retailer, you have the technology to make that a reality.
Check out our latest ebook series on the current state of retail in the UK, and how to make sure that you stay on top of the CX game.