Our IT Executive Roundtables 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 CX priorities in retail, led by the SVP & CIO of a leading American apparel company. This Session was sponsored by Linc.
Customer expectations and demands have been changing rapidly in the last few years. Businesses that notice and react to these changes establish a formidable competitive advantage. But it’s not always easy to deliver a good customer experience in a world riddled with supply chain and lockdown-related issues. How do you identify their friction points, and how do you prioritize fixing them?
At the beginning of the discussion, participants talked about the biggest shifts in customer expectations in the last two years. A CIO said that customers understand the effects of the global supply chain issues and are willing to accept longer shipping times. However, they do still expect you to hit the communicated delivery dates. Some other executives shared a contrasting viewpoint. They said that customers want things delivered wherever they are and at speed. A head of IT development added that the COVID-19 pandemic forever changed the way people shop. A majority of their customers now prefer online shopping over in-person. Finally, a leader of e-commerce acceleration told the audience that many customers have become increasingly interested in customized experiences and products. As a business, you must keep coming up with the best way to engage with your base.
A speaker mentioned that they are seeing a rapid increase in the number of post-delivery issues, like missing products and lack of real-time communication. Businesses should be able to resolve such issues efficiently. Don’t just ask the support-seeking customer to refer to the FAQ— give them a chance to share their grievances with a representative. Moreover, the modern customer also likes to reach out to businesses for buying advice. For example, which anti-aging product is best for sensitive skin? Or which product bundle has the best bang for their buck etc. Being able to provide a seamless consultative buying experience can be challenging for most companies, but can lead to higher conversion rates.
Another common challenge is making the customer realize that the business is affected by supply chain issues. One way to do it is by making aspects of the supply chain visible to the customers. Integrate the supply chain systems with the customer-facing applications and show them where the bottleneck is. It’s also important to add more granular milestones in the shipping process and update the tracking status in real-time. Keep reminding the customer that they haven’t been forgotten and that fulfilling their order is your top priority.
A contributor remarked that you need to have a data-driven strategy to decide which friction points to fix first. If the data tells you that many customers are abandoning their cart, then it is likely you must fix something in the user experience. It’s crucial to have access to clean data that can be used to generate predictive analytics and increase customer engagement.
It can also help to have data analytics available inside the service center. For example, you can have a real-time Pareto chart inside the service center, representing the different reasons customers are calling you. As the chart gets updated over time, you’ll be able to identify where the actual customer friction lies (post-purchase, pre-purchase, shipping delays, etc.)
Another participant shared how they use a tool to monitor every transaction on their website. The tool creates a video record of all visitor sessions, enabling them to filter out and fix friction points efficiently.
An executive said they are trying to build a unified customer data platform to help drive their personalization engine. They use the engine to deliver customized experiences to their customers across all relevant channels. They are also planning on reopening multiple stores, as they believe that certain people prefer shopping in-store instead of online. Another attendee added that they are trying to lower advertising costs through better conversion and personalization.