Retailers stand to finally make a comeback from the 2008 Great Recession if 2012 Cyber Monday sales are any indication. ComScore.com, which tracks e-commerce sales, recorded a record 17 percent increase this year over Cyber Monday 2011. This year’s event turned out to be the highest performing online shopping day since the company began tracking such data in 2001.
With good news, however, come challenges for retailers. A full recovery remains uncertain, online retailers must turn greater attention to all elements of their customer’s online shopping experience to grab greater share of wallet. Physical stores face their own unique challenges. But whether your retail business is virtual, physical or both, there are basic rules that apply to any retail shopping experience to ensure that you delight your customers.
Here are the five most common customer experience pitfalls to avoid this holiday season:
1. Ignoring Your Customers
Customers have taken control over the brand communications they receive by increasingly tuning into social networks. Smart brands have moved into social channels to participate in these conversations central to their business but are still struggling to monitor and respond to customer comments. A customer experience management solution can automate the monitoring process overall and at the location level, flagging for follow up negative responses to customer surveys or disparaging mentions on social networks. But even brands that do not yet employ a solution must monitor customer comments and have a plan in place to respond effectively.
2. Misreading Your Customers
Understanding customers is a complex activity that should draw from multiple channels, including in-store interactions, website behavioral data, email campaign responses, transaction and relationship surveys and telephone communications. Within that huge volume of data will be many attributes to help you understand your customers better. However, retailers should focus their attention only on the attributes that are most important to their customers. Low scores on a customer survey for one attribute doesn’t necessarily translate into a problem that needs a fix. Focus on what the customers care about most.
3. Sounding Rehearsed in Communications
Train customer service representatives to use conversational language when speaking with customers to avoid sounding rehearsed and apathetic. Role-playing your top service scenarios in pre-holiday training and in daily “stand-up” discussions is one way to impact engagement, particularly during holiday when the volume is high. Consumers have become accustomed to interacting with an automated service so when a human being comes on the line, the interaction takes on greater meaning for the customer. For the retailer, the opportunity is that much greater to make a connection.
4. Escalation and Resolution Options are Unclear
Customer service representatives need clear escalation paths for customers they are unable to satisfy. Enlisting managers or high-level executives to contact the customer is crucial to maintaining loyalty and protecting the brand image. In addition, having the metrics in place that the management and service teams have real-time access to can make the difference in any situation. If management cannot get in contact with the customer immediately, customer representatives need to maintain regular contact and follow up until the issue is resolved. Further, brands need to empower customer service representatives to offer disgruntled customers as many options as possible so customers feel their complaints are resolved with a personalized solution.
5. Not Admitting to Mistakes
Be willing to acknowledge errors. Customers will often focus more on how their complaint was resolved than on the original issue. It’s not uncommon for customers to publicly heap their appreciation on brands that solve their problems satisfactorily, with a nod to ‘Mistakes Happen.” Acknowledge your mistake and empower employees at multiple levels to do so.