How Retailers Can Mobilize and Enhance the Customer Journey
In recent years there’s been a major shift in consumer behavior when it comes customer’s buying habits and preferences. Consumers today are using a mix of traditional and digital methods to shop, research, get help, and pay. The days of walking into a physical store and waiting patiently in line to swipe your credit card to make your purchase is becoming a habit of the past. Instead, consumers are using the Internet and cloud-based apps to research what they want to buy before they even step into the store and checking out on their phones once there, if they enter a store at all. Beyond the transaction, consumers are also using these mobile apps for customer care.
Customers have spoken with their actions: they are looking for real-time, self-directed help, advice, and solutions. Now, it’s essential for businesses to listen and act.
To thrive in this new retail environment and stay ahead of new technologies, companies must engage across the buyer journey in ways that better align with new consumer expectations.
The Buyer’s Journey and Customer Preferences
In a recent survey of 1004 customers that we conducted, new trends emerged revealing what devices and platforms consumers prefer to use to shop including:
– 24 percent prefer shopping on multiple platforms and devices
– 48 percent prefer shopping online
– 52 percent chose text as the most frequent method of communicating
It’s clear that mobile is not just enabling new behaviors, it’s actually changing how consumers prefer to shop, setting a new status quo of expectations on ease of use, control, and flexibility for digital engagement. Companies that want to keep up with customer demands will need to offer the customer care devices and platforms that the digital customer wants to engage on.
At the same time, this trend serves as an opportunity for companies to shift traffic from higher-cost communication methods such as phone or email to lower-cost platforms such as mobile, social media, and web chat to simultaneously get better aligned with consumer preferences while controlling costs.
Unfortunately, that’s often easier said than done. While companies are responding to consumer demands by adding new mobile and digital features, there’s still a disconnect between what customers want and what enterprises are offering. Digital platforms alone often don’t measure up to expectations, leaving consumers and enterprises further apart, not closer together. This is because enterprises are still offering the same friction-filled experience in their new features and they’re focusing on their own customer care silo rather than the holistic view of the customer journey.
What’s more, mobile is having a growing influence on how shoppers feel about a brand overall and that perception impacts their buying behavior. Some companies that tried to rush out mobile payment capabilities in an effort to be customer-friendly actually encountered a series of problems that resulted in frustrated customers, abandoned shopping carts, and an overall negative brand perception.
The Customer Engagement Solution
Consumer shopping and mobile payment preferences tend to mirror how they prefer to seek customer care. When consumers get used to an easy purchasing experience, they start to expect a seamless customer service experience. If an enterprise rolls out a brand new mobile shopping app, they need to also have an effective customer care platform integrated on the same platform. We found that 53 percent of consumers would spend more money with an enterprise if they could switch platforms or devices without starting over and repeating information. In order to meet new expectations, companies must adopt solutions that make the customer service experience seamless and convenient.
So what does a successful customer engagement solution look like? Mobile self-service and agent chat. Cachet Financial Solutions, a provider of remote deposit capture (RDC) and mobile management solutions, was looking for a way to offer better customer service through the integration of value-add services to their existing mobile app. With the integration of a real-time and self-service platform, Cachet was able to offer their customers an end-to-end solution through their mobile app with a full suite of financial services such as expedited bill pay, card-to-card transfer, a personal finance manager, check-to-card loading, cash back rewards, social media integration, enhanced self-service and mobile messaging.
The incorporation of a real-time service agent and messaging in the mobile app allowed Cachet Financial Solutions to communicate with their customers in real-time and start, stop, and resume conversations without the customer having to re-enter their information. The company found that offering a messaging feature within their mobile app is a value add proposition for their customers and is much more efficient than a phone call. The messaging features also allowed customer service agents to follow-up with their customers more easily and ensure that their problems were resolved.
Today, more than ever before, the customer is in charge. Their preferences, their experiences, and their sense of brand loyalty all must be the foundation that your customer care and engagement platform is built on. Companies that create a personalized experience for their customers and serve their evolving needs across all devices and platforms will be the ones that stay ahead of their competitors, increase customer loyalty, and even save money. Those that don’t face a real risk of harming their brand.
Article by: John Hibel, Director of Marketing at Contact Solutions
John Hibel leads marketing at Contact Solutions, a Verint Company. His experience in telecommunications and mobile technologies dates back to the early days of the Internet and some of the first cellular phone networks. For the last four years, John has been immersed in Contact Solutions’ efforts to create an entirely new engagement experience designed from the ground-up for today’s hyper-connected, multi-tasking consumers.
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