Customer experience: Emerging technologies to know about

Customer experience: Emerging technologies to know about

The manner in which customers interact with your brand will not only inform their opinion of your shop, but also their future buying habits. Experience and engagement metrics have always been important, and in 2019 retailers will need to pay more attention to these measurements as competition for brand authority and market share intensify.

In a tightly connected global economy, the shopping experience grows in importance as the quality of goods becomes standardized. Take the home improvement retail environment for example. Customers can find many of the same products at Lowes, Home Depot and Ace Hardware, yet each has a distinct set of loyal customers. The products are the same, but the experience varies between brands. Research from Gartner corroborates this idea, showing that roughly 89 percent of companies compete mostly on the basis of customer experience.

Increasingly, technology will be the differentiating factor in how customers choose the brands they most frequently engage with.

Automated interactions

It's no secret that consumers don't like to be left waiting to speak with a customer service member. The longer customers wait, the more likely they are to rate their experience negatively, and they might share that experience with others. In fact, analyst Esteban Kolsky found that 13 percent of shoppers who have a negative experience will tell 15 or more people about it.

Crafting meaningful customer interactions within a short time frame can be resource-intensive. To solve this problem, many retail brands have partially automated their customer interactions with chatbots. These programs can answer frequently asked questions and elevate more complex inquiries to a human staff member. This reserves key human resources for customer service issues requiring complex solutions.

Channel integrations

These days, retail brands cannot limit customer interactions to a single channel. Digital communications, telephone interactions, in-store conversations, social media engagements and other modes are equally important. This sentiment is especially important for multichannel retailers to understand, because customers expect consistent experiences across all channels.

Recently, RiseNews reported on Forrester's 2018 Multichannel Retailers Customer Experience Index, which found that 89 percent of multichannel shoppers who feel appreciated will advocate for the brand and 86 percent will spend more with the brand. Backend systems that integrate communications within all channels, such as connected content management systems, will give stakeholders more opportunities to enhance customer experiences, no matter where or how they interact with the brand.

Customer experience surveys

Before any brand can improve its relationships with customers, its stakeholders need to have a baseline understanding of current customer opinions. Surveys have been around for a long time, but new technologies are making it easier and more efficient to survey customers about their opinions.

Qualtrics reported that brands are using a number of innovative ways to better understand customer needs. Some brands leverage simple thumbs up and thumbs down buttons to quickly gauge the relevancy of messaging. Others use post-purchase multiple choice questions to quantify customer opinions, or utilize email surveys to get in-depth performance metrics.

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