Win Loyalty by Being Customer-Obsessed and Data-Led
“Our expectations are set by the things we experience every day," proclaimed vice president and principal analyst of digital business strategy at Forrester, Brendan Witcher, during a keynote presentation at the 2018 Path to Purchase Expo in Minneapolis.
Witcher asserted the days of shaping a customer experience based on the company’s vision of “convenient, simple and easy” are gone, because those three words can mean vastly different things to different people. According to Witcher, the key is becoming customer-obsessed and data-led instead of company-obsessed and data-driven.
Today, companies must create a new alignment to truly understand the customer and the tools needed to do so. “We are far more influenced by pain than we are pleasure ... Solve customer pain points before you surprise and delight,” Witcher said.
According to Forrester’s Top Retail Tech Investments for 2018, retailers and brands are focusing on tech investments that align with today’s customer expectations, like click-and-collect programs.
“We are no longer chasing our competitors, we are chasing our customers’ expectations, [which] requires us to understand our customers as well as we used to understand our competitors,” according to Witcher.
Witcher outlined four new retail imperatives for 2018 centered on omnichannel commerce that are customer-obsessed and data-led:
- Fulfillment (not for brands who don’t do direct-to-consumer)
- View of the customer
“Omnichannel commerce hinges on the view of the customer – if you cannot get the omnichannel view of the customer done, you cannot do the other three things,” Witcher said. “That is the unsexy work that makes sexy work, work.”
The more you know about each customer, the more effective engagements will be. Starbucks, for example, “knows 25 things that they didn’t know before because you’re using their app. It is a strategy for understanding who you are and capturing your behavior anywhere, anytime," Witcher said, calling the retailer's mobile payment app “a customer-data-capturing machine.”
Product and price is another imperative. According to Forrester research, more than 80% of companies indicate a price match guarantee is important and it is how they address omnichannel pricing. Yet, only 17% of consumers will check for a price match guarantee, leaving 83% of people unaware.
Personalized communication is an important element of that, though like everything else, must be about the customer, not a company's idea of what the customer wants.
Forrester research found nearly 90% of companies recognize that personalization matters and are prioritizing it, while 77% of consumers say they’ve chosen, recommended or paid more for a brand that provides a personalized service or experience. However, only 40% of consumers say they’re receiving relevant communication from brands.
The next generation shopper demands a deep understanding of individual shopping behaviors and expectations, thus creating a shift from personalization to individualization.
E-commerce bra company True & Co. is a prime example of individualization, using every item returned as an opportunity to inform that specific shoppers’ customer experience by identifying characteristics they didn’t like about the bra and suppressing similar items on its website, even if an item is a best seller or high-margin item. That’s using data to create personalization, and it’s customer-obsessed.
Unsurprisingly, data capabilities and analytics are also imperative. Companies should use new digital touchpoints to collect customer data. Companies like Fabletics, which gathers shoppers’ email addresses in fitting rooms and scans the items being tried on, have designed customer journeys for the sole purpose of collecting data.
“Provide value in exchange for customers self-identifying,” Witcher said. “No one ever logs out of Amazon for a reason, there’s too much value in staying logged in.”
In a time of seemingly infinite options, if you aren’t providing what a shopper wants the way they want it, you risk losing them because, Witcher said, “We move on when we find something that works better for us because we know we have choice.”