Customers expect three things in every interaction: immediacy, simplicity, and context. If you’re not delivering what they need, you are delivering a lousy, and possibly damaging, customer experience.
Customers > Technology
Uncovering your customers’ expectations is the first step to delivering a positive customer experience. When thinking about technology, the decisions you make need to consider how much your customers engage with technology already – do they regularly use snapchat or are they barely using Facebook on a desktop computer? The systems they regularly interact with shape their expectations. Once you’re aware of their expectations you can determine what opportunities exist for your brand to deliver a better customer experience.
A lot of retailers opt for clienteling apps – store associates can look at a device and understand a customer’s shopping history, make recommendations, or check inventory in the back. Those are fine, but they aren’t innovative anymore and they don’t necessarily deliver because customers now expect that same information to be available on their own device. Whereas clienteling puts the power in the hands of your employees, an assisted self-service approach puts information and control in the hands of customers, which is more in line with the psychology of good user experience [paywall].
Mind the Trap
Luckily, the technology to enable a good user experience exists – it’s the trap of prioritizing the latest technology over customer experience that you need to be weary of. We put this strategy in the parlance of designing for the shopper first, as opposed to doing what is possible from a technology standpoint. There are lots of amazing experiences enabled through technology, and you may be tempted to try some of them, but most of them are too novel to enhance a shopper’s experience, at least for the time being. If you do choose to try something novel, be sure it’s a surprise and delight effect, not a ‘surprise and confuse’ situation.
What Customers Want
A customer-first strategy dictates you be flexible. Customers expect a seamless, “no-channel” experience, but retailers are stuck thinking about omnichannel. The themes of simplicity, convenience, and context require you to ask and understand what kind of moment is the shopper having right now. Is this person just looking for information or do they really want to buy something right now? Combining the best of customer experience, marketing automation, and customer engagement with a mobile platform is the only way to put customers first.