Consumers’ needs are growing and shifting at an unprecedented rate. Brands are developing effective customer experience strategies to increase customer loyalty and satisfaction, a decision that will help them to survive and thrive. While getting the strategy right is one thing, putting it into action is equally important.
According to Zendesk, 90 percent of businesses in Asia Pacific agree that CX innovation is required to protect their business from competitors. But when it comes to implementation, many companies are still in the early stages of establishing their CX practices.
With a formal CX strategy in place, the question becomes what is next? By following the 10 steps below, retail brands can create successful digital engagement with their target customers.
1. Weave in empathy throughout the CX journey
In today’s CX-driven world, it is not surprising that brands are adopting various empathetic practices to close the customer experience gap. However, an empathetic approach remains a key challenge for most organisations today. Why? According to IBM, companies are launching digital CX initiatives without fully understanding what would motivate their customers to try them.
Instead of building personas based on vague notions of who their customers actually are, brands must delve deeper into how customers are impacted at every step of their journey, and truly understand what it is like to walk in their shoes. Accessibility needs of customers can be easily neglected, but prioritising this with the use of assistive technologies can help brands ensure a consistent and fully inclusive emotional experience for all customers.
2. Adopt lean research
Research has found that Asian consumers have the highest customer experience expectations and consider a great experience with any brand a top priority. With lean research, brands can get to know their customers and understand them better more quickly and effectively.
One of the ways to maximise effectiveness is to speak to customers directly and allow them to express themselves openly about their all-encompassing experience with your brand. The best results can come from starting with five users, Nielsen has found that any more will provide diminishing returns.
Subsequent to the in-depth interviews, brands can then validate the results through a quantitative survey. From a practical point of view, a sample size of 200 tends to provide sufficient statistical significance and can reveal trends in customer values.
3. Listen in carefully
The power of social listening is often understated, yet social media remains the top source of interactions between brands and consumers in APAC. Learning what customers are saying about the brand across social media platforms can offer an effective route to understanding true, and sometimes hidden, customer values. Adding a social listening tool such as Meltwater, Sprinklr, Hootsuite, etc. to your martech stack is a strong place to start.
4. Make the most of your data
Personalised experiences have been shown to increase customer loyalty and overall brand satisfaction. A recent report also found that personalised service is crucial in the APAC region, with 79 percent of consumers saying that it is more important than personalised marketing.
Adopting a discovery-first approach like Appnovation’s Data Maturity Assessment helps retail brands break down silos, and turn unstructured data into meaningful insights before creating a personalisation program at scale.
5. Collecting data is all about building trust
Sometimes it is not the customer who is unwilling to share their data, but the brand who is not being upfront about how the data is being used – and that is when customer trust is lost. According to EY, 64 percent of Asia-Pacific consumers are willing to share personal data for a tailored online experience.
With customers becoming more comfortable sharing their personal data, the onus falls on the brand to be transparent about the data value exchange. This is crucial to gaining customer’s confidence.
6. Take personalisation beyond just a name
Now, it is time to translate that data to actionable insights. Based on the outcome of a data assessment, we place companies on a Data Maturity Roadmap.
The roadmap spans from establishing objectives through to using advanced functionality like machine learning and predictive modeling. Here is an overview of the six-stage framework:
- Foundation – What to measure?
- Hindsight – What happened?
- Insight – What does it mean?
- Prescriptive – What should happen?
- Foresight – When will it happen?
- Cognitive – Automated decision making
Digital solutions can bring these insights to life and allow retail brands to create much more personal, human experiences across the entire journey, building closer relationships with customers and adding value to each interaction.
7. Align objectives with customers’ values
With Asia Pacific rising to be the home of 60 percent of the world’s population, customer behaviors are already shifting beyond the pandemic. For retail brands, it is no longer just about understanding the purchasing process, but the motivations behind that decision making, and ultimately, the why.
Appnovation’s Value Index can help companies decide which of their customers’ values to prioritise. Brands can then set customer-centric KPIs to influence behaviorin a way that actually fits with who their customers are, creating unique and meaningful customer experiences that set them apart from competitors.
8. Grow empathy by engaging with customers
Building an exceptional customer experience is an iterative process, and retail brands have the opportunity to grow empathy along the way. While evaluating the development process at regular checkpoints internally, it is also worth checking in with your customers. Involving them early in the process can strengthen the relationship, increase trust and loyalty. Similar to lean research, five people is enough for usability testing. But do not forget to include customers with disabilities so they can test whether the solution meets their accessibility needs. Being proactive about potential problems in the retail customer journey can help turn insights into CX innovation and also help you save money.
9. Satisfy with inclusive ease of use
According to Gartner, 89 percent of companies now compete primarily based on customer experience. Digital technology is the engine that is powering CX forward, and offering ease of use and enabling accessibility features have become imperative. Customers want streamlined and digital-first shopping experiences. Brands that recognise this and invest in continually optimising customer experience that enables consistent action will earn their consumer’s loyalty and dollars. They will not only get ahead but stay ahead of their competition.
Make it easy for your customers to find relevant content (like specs for a new retail product), delivering a fulfilling customer experience that people are compelled to share with others.
10. Provide resilient, trustworthy systems
Consistency across the customer journey requires a highly unified approach for any organisation — a customer-centric operating model that evaluates all technology investments and business strategies from a customer perspective. The customer trust rewards can be substantial for brands that can demonstrate that their systems are dependable and reliable for everyone using them.
As customer expectations keep evolving, brands that can act faster and stay current with adaptive technologies will be able to remain competitive in the game. But that is not enough, introducing an agile mindset into company culture and adapting quickly to market changes will also be essential in the CX roadmap to help better serve the customer’s true needs and win their hearts.
There is no one-size-fits-all strategy, but retail brands who are able to incorporate the elements above in their digital engagement strategies, will be well-positioned to pivot with the next wave of customer demands, creating the sort of customer experiences that propel lifelong loyalty.
Author : Debbie Ng, Associate Director, Experience Design, Appnovation
*Disclaimer: The views and opinion expressed in the article belong solely to the original author and do not represent the views, opinions and position of Retail in Asia.