You might not compete directly with Starbucks, Amazon, Apple, Virgin or Southwest Airlines, but they are the companies setting your customer’s expectations when it comes to the customer experience. No longer are you just competing with the store down the block or across town. Today’s always on, always connected consumer shares the positive experiences they get all across the internet. If you are local or global, it doesn’t matter. You have higher standards to live up to.
When Starbucks trains consumers that they can order via an app and not wait in line when they get to the store, that expectation doesn’t just affect other coffee shops. When Amazon knows you so well, it recommends stuff you didn’t even know you wanted until you saw it, that raises the bar for all retailers. Consumer expectations have changed – for everyone. Every store. Every brand.
To keep up with this new, demanding, smart and untethered consumer, marketers and companies have to evolve. Good retail marketing can bring them through the door, but today you need to provide a good customer experience to keep them there. The good news is that spending to create a better experience doesn’t necessarily have to cut into your profit margin. To compete in retail marketing often means offering bigger incentives to shop or spending more to have a larger share of voice in media. You hope those costs are offset by larger sales volumes. However, the latest figures show that consumers are willing to pay up to 23% more for a superior experience. That should be enough to offset any larger spend to create better experiences.
A good way to find out about your customers is to simply ask them. If you can afford it, do a little consumer research. If not, talk to the people on the front lines who are main touchpoints to your customers. What questions do they ask? What are their pain points? What do they already like about the experience? What could be better? Chances are, your salespeople already know the answers to a lot of these questions.
A couple weeks ago, at Digital Summit Detroit, Gene De Libero of Sitecore shared these facts about the current state of customer experience, from both the company and consumer point of views:
- 89% of companies expect to compete on customer experience
- Yet, less than 15% of their budgets goes towards improving customer experience
- And less than 25% of companies measure KPI’s across the experience
- 62% of consumers are willing to share information with brands if it mean they get better, more personalized experiences
- But, 60% feel they have unmet expectations
- 93% believe unmet expectations come with material consequences for those not meeting them
- However, 73% say customer loyalty will increase if expectations are met
So, given all that, does a good customer experience trump a good retail marketing plan? Probably not. But you can see it’s importance. You really need to do both. Retail marketing can drive more customers through your doors. A great customer experience can get them to spend more and keep coming back. And, when they share their good experiences in reviews, word of mouth and social media – that can bring more new customers through the door. It really has become a world where you need to take a holistic 360 approach to how you go to market. Sweat the small stuff and you could see big returns.
Mike McClure – experiencing a whole new world