Our Roundtable Sessions are invite-only events hosted by peers for peers that bring together a select group of senior IT leaders from across industries for topic-driven, intimate dialog on current trends and topics. The group met remotely to discuss strategic customer experience priorities in retail for 2022 and beyond, led by the CIO of an American retail clothing store with 400 stores across 50 states. This Session was sponsored by Linc.
Over the last two years, customer habits, behaviors, and preferences have changed drastically. Having a frictionless customer experience has become more critical than ever before. Customers expect everything to be digitally accessible; they want their questions to be answered instantly and don’t want to wait too long for refunds. What priorities must companies set to achieve these high levels of customer engagement and satisfaction?
During the discussion, different attendees shared their top customer experience priorities for 2022. A director of IT said that they have just launched a campaign which would allow their customers to experience what it’s like to consume their products. A CIO added that their biggest goal for 2022 is to tackle the rising supply chain issues and ensure timely shipments. A CEO mentioned that they have developed a new website and are working to refine their Omni-channel strategy. Some other priorities were as follows:
A participant talked about their goal to implement true unified commerce (UC), i.e., systems for inventory, customer management, shipping, payments, etc., integrated via a single platform. This will enable them to enhance customer experience by providing features like touchless transactions, convenient returns, and seamless multichannel shopping. However, achieving UC can be complex if you have legacy systems. For example, your marketing automation system that’s running in the cloud may have a hard time integrating with your in-house ERP system, running on a legacy mainframe.
An executive recounted how they refined their return policy to enhance customer experience significantly. They launched a return portal where customers could request the return themselves, get the label printed, and then ship the package back to the company. But they were still getting a lot of emails from frustrated customers about delays in refund processing. To reduce this friction, they integrated with the logistics company and started tracking the package in real-time. As soon as the logistics company received the package from the customer, they refunded the customer without checking what was in the package. This approach got the money back to the customer much faster, which made them a lot happier. A few people abused this approach (by returning junk instead of the actual product), but overall, they noticed a vast improvement in customer experience.
They also implemented chatbots on their website, which can answer not only simple questions like, “where is your store?” or “what time do you open?” but also relatively complicated questions like, “can you help me return this product?” or “Can you recommend me a pair of shoes based on XYZ preferences?”