What customer experience really means for retailers

The phrase customer experience is frequently used, but defining it is less easy. That’s why customer centricity consultancy 5one has developed five essential principles of customer experience, says chief strategy officer Trish Ferguson

Every decade has its business buzzwords. Today it’s almost impossible to talk about customer engagement and loyalty without hearing the phrase “the customer experience”. The words might be familiar, but what do they actually mean? Ask ten marketers and you’ll probably get ten very different definitions.

In parallel, the growth of big data offers huge potential for understanding customers and their experiences more precisely, and at a more granular level than ever before. However, it can raise more questions than it answers.

At 5one we recognise that sifting through the vast and expanding ocean of facts, figures and other records that big data offers is overwhelming. We work with businesses to identify the information they can use to really understand customers, and help them focus on what is relevant to them and what they actually need. This is increasingly important as more data becomes available. Big data needs to be distilled into actionable information.

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FIVE PRINCIPLES OF CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

At 5one we don’t just manage data, we use it to help clients understand the full customer journey That’s why we’re increasingly finding ourselves helping a wide range of retailers and other businesses to define the customer experience for them, and to transform it into something they can action to leapfrog their competitors. At 5one we’ve developed what we call the five principles of customer experience. As a leading customer centricity consultancy, we find these simple rules help our clients as they seek to understand their customers better and develop more effective engagement strategies.

Simple rules help our clients to understand their customers better and develop more effective engagement strategies

1. A customer’s value to a business is driven by their experiences. This means that each interaction, good or bad, a customer has with a brand has an impact on the way they view that brand. The experience is a cumulative impact of all their interactions and in turn determines their value. Historically there has been a focus on what consumers are buying as a way of understanding their behaviour at the point of purchase. However, we’re finding that in order to be able to deliver a personalised customer experience, businesses need to analyse more than just this one part of the journey.

2. Customers’ experiences are broader than simply transacting. In fact, the customer journey is cyclical. We interrogate data to understand the complete customer journey when they consider a purchase, read a review or have a conversation; when they shop in store or online; and afterwards when they enjoy (or otherwise) their purchase, speaking to customer support or reviewing on social media.

3. Customer value is both personal and social, so it’s vital that customers aren’t just measured by the value of their shopping baskets. They must also be evaluated by their influence, their online reviews, social media and blogs, among other outlets. Creating and recognising advocates is key to successful businesses.

4. Customers seek different experiences, dependent on both their personal preferences and their shopping situation. For example, when a customer buys a sandwich at lunchtime, they want the experience to be quick and easy. On the other hand, when the same customer buys trainers from a specialist store, they expect expert advice and time devoted to them to understand their needs. Depending on whether the retailer is selling sandwiches or trainers, the customer experience they provide will be very different and so each retailer must offer the customer experience that is appropriate to them. Brands need to tailor this experience depending on where they play in the retail space. In addition, they will have to take into account the individual customer and the situation in which they find themselves to create the most appropriate customer experience.

5. You can’t maintain or enhance customer experience without understanding and measuring it. We work with our clients to help them continually improve the experience they give their customers. With marketing campaigns, for instance, we ask have we increased sales to the customers we’ve targeted? With website changes, have we decreased the rate of abandoned baskets?

Customers are becoming increasingly demanding and vocal, so understanding their customer journey is more important than ever. But every retailer is different so, as well as recognising the complete customer journey, we enhance the journey through our personalisation tools. At 5one we can implement the right tools and solutions for your business, which ultimately leads to giving each customer their desired experience.

For more information, please visit www.5one.com