Today’s highly competitive retail environment requires that retailers create compelling and unique customer experience (CX) allowing them to have a frictionless shopping experience across all the channels. The customer experience is not confined to a single department or a job role but a holistic organizational effort that requires participation from all the stakeholders within the retail organization. Customer experience is a strategic goal led by the CEO driving the omni-experience transformation within the organization. Consistency across the customer-facing touchpoints is essential to ensure a perfect and consistent customer experience.
According to IDC experience survey, “consistent experience across different channels of interactions” cited as the number 1 factor by the respondents. Retailers must also orchestrate their channels with business process and support those processes with integrated software systems.
IDC sees the customer experience as a business strategy that is part of a customer-centric business strategy. Customer experience is one of the four experiences defined by IDC (the other are employee, partner, and supplier). While an organization may have the result of a customer experience in mind, it may choose to pursue an employee experience or partner experience strategy as its means to ultimately deliver a differentiating customer experience. IDC defines customer experience as follows: Customer experience is the entire process over the lifetime of a relationship between customers and an organization with which they engage. In this context, customer experiences can range from a single transaction to an ongoing relationship over a period of many years.
Key Components of Customer Experience
• Culture, strategy, and processes. The organization’s culture is central to making a CX strategy work. Leadership must show support for CX initiatives because the ripple effect through the organization is profound. The concrete evidence of this cultural directive should be found in the strategy and processes that support it.
• Products and services. The product or service that the retailer offers should inherent to the satisfaction of the customer, and it must fulfill a need or demand. The quality of the product or service should also reflect the value for money.
• People. Customers are obviously at the center of CX. But the company’s employees are just as important, if not more so, as they are in the direct flow of delivering the customer experience. Employees are the advocates and evangelists for the company. In addition, suppliers and partners enable the production, sales, and implementation of the product or service, requiring them to understand the organization’s strategy in order to represent its brand.
• Information. Information includes all of the content, data, and analysis that are distributed among key stakeholders: the customer and the organization, by employees to other employees, and from partners to customers through the delivery and support of products.
SEE ALSO: Personalisation: Myth and Reality
• Access. Access includes all the touch points through which a customer experiences a retail brand. The consistency of these touchpoints is the powerhouse factor in driving customer experience.
• Technology. Technology, including both hardware and software, supports and automates the CX environment. Technology should streamline and reduce friction for customers when using digital channels.
Mike Ghasemi is the Research Director for IDC Retail Insights & Hospitality Asia Pacific, where he leads the definition, creation and production of IDC market intelligence solutions for countries across the region. Before joining IDC, Mike spent 15 years in the IT industry, with 10 years in retail information technology software solutions.