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The Retail Week Customer Experience Summit on 22nd & 23rd June was an excellent opportunity for retailers to explore their strategies and challenges when providing a world-class customer experience in an omni-channel environment. As a conference sponsor, we were there to offer insight and solve some common retail problems – here are our key takeaways from the event.
Getting the internal culture right is a big part of creating a great customer experience, so it’s no surprise that this was covered several times throughout the conference.
On day one, Martin Newman (Founder of Practicology) identified the organisation of customer teams as a key obstacle to CX success. Too often marketing teams are organised by channel, rather than by customers, creating siloes which can lead to a disjointed customer experience and difficulty attributing success to holistic marketing activity.
Toni Adams, Head of Customer Experience at Carpetright, shared how streaming a live feed of customer comments into the Carpetright head office had an impact on how customers were dealt with. Whether positive or negative, sharing all of the comments with everyone helped to create a culture where the whole team is working towards improving the customer experience.
Employee engagement was a big topic for both of the morning keynote talks. Mike Logue, CEO of Dreams, reported that they were in the top 12% for employee engagement globally, with 93% of employees engaged and understanding the vital role they play in the future of the company. Waterstones CEO James Daunt explained that the reversed fortunes of Waterstones involved a change the company culture that empowered employees to say “yes” to customers. When everyone has the power to create a great experience, it’s much more likely to happen and has meant that Waterstones have been able to succeed without the need to compete on price.
POPSUGAR MD Genevieve Kunst kicked off the event on Wednesday by sharing some insights from research conducted by POPSUGAR into their target demographic – women aged 18-35. For them, the customer experience is all about IPA -
Immediacy – Give it to me fast, give it to me now
Personalisation – Know me, no matter how and where I interact
Authenticity – Follow me and speak my language
A big part of understanding customers is dealing with huge volumes of data coming from different sources. Andrew Mann, Former Customer Data Director at The Co-operative Group, says that having multiple, conflicting data reports presenting differing views of customers can be a major burden. Unifying data into one single system that can provide an easy-to-understand single customer view is an important goal for retailers, helping to overcome the ‘fear’ of data caused by low levels of literacy.
Connecting up all your channels is all about streamlining and unifying the customer experience. Stephen Vowles, the Marketing Director at Argos suggests that customers expect the retailer to make the shopping experience as easy as possible, something that comes as no surprise to us. Steve Lavery, Head of Retail Customer Engagement at EE had a similar message – simplify the customer experience.
Bridging the gap between the online and instore journeys was a key focus at the event, with numerous retailers discussing their experiences of this topic. Stephen Robinson of Timpsons has found that this divide means that some retailers are not getting a real view of their customers, meaning that they’re struggling to provide the unified, branded approach talked about by Zia Zareem-Slade of Fortnum & Mason.
Where the disconnect is too great, websites and stores can often be seen as different brands, reducing the chances of customer loyalty and cross-channel conversion. Waterstones CEO James Daunt said that they’re working on recreating the Waterstones store experience online – for any retailers in the same position, this is something Intilery excel at.
With well over half of all retail site traffic coming from mobile sources, it’s no surprise that mobile was a hot topic at the conference. Representatives from Boohoo, Bang & Olufsen and Fortnum & Mason all confirmed that their mobile sites had lower conversion rates than their desktop sites, with Claire Hill from Boohoo adding that their average order value was lower on mobile too.
Zia Zareem-Slade, Customer Experience Director at Fortnum & Mason reiterated the importance of the mobile channel when she shared that 30% of their business is achieved via mobile. Claire Hill said that Boohoo customers often browsed on mobile phones at peak travelling times, then converted through the desktop or tablet sites later on. All of this serves to reinforce the importance of providing a consistent, seamless experience to customers across all channels.
Identifying the technology to invest in is a particular issue for retailers, especially as the technology world changes so quickly. Stephen Robertson of Timpsons thought that retailers shouldn’t be looking for new technologies until they get the fundamentals of a great online experience right – and that most retailers aren’t there yet.
One of the big issues when choosing new tech is guessing what the next big thing will be. Claire Hill suggested that buying tech is a risk because you never know when (or if) they will crash and burn. Zia Zareem-Slade puts Fortnum & Mason’s success down to their innovation – it’s staying away from safe that’s helped them last over 300 years.
Each organisation will have their own approach to technology and risk, which is why we offer a 3-month Proof of Concept period for all new clients. Intilery’s unique Customer Experience Management technology can unify your data, providing you with a single customer view and unrivalled customer insight – but importantly, it also allows you to action those insights, with marketing automation across every channel to create a truly seamless omni-channel customer experience.
To find out more, get in touch and request a demo.