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How retailers can create a frictionless customer experience

By Ciaran Bollard, CEO at Kooomo 

Customer experience (CX) will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator by the end of 2020, according to a recent study on consumer trends. This is because successful retailing is not just about quickly selling a single product to one person, it is about creating a satisfying journey for every customer, from initial interest and research, through to item delivery and after-sales support.

According to a recent SuperOffice report, 86% of consumers are willing to pay more for a great CX, highlighting the value in providing a ‘frictionless’ experience across each touchpoint. If a customer feels their journey has been quick, convenient and successful, they are more likely to feel brand loyalty which will increase the probability of retention and repeat purchases in the future.

The new generation of omnichannel shoppers

Ciaran Bollard
Ciaran Bollard

Consumers’ desire for a seamless experience has never been higher, as revealed in a study by IDC that suggests omnichannel shoppers have a 30% higher lifetime value than single-channel shoppers. Retailers need to prioritise investing in omnichannel solutions, as ignoring this request from customers may end up costing them in the long-term. A comprehensive omnichannel approach helps brands to ensure the messaging they have worked so hard to develop and refine is clear and consistent across each stage of the customer journey.

A frictionless CX means the brand messaging is uniform across all available offline & online channels. This should mean the mobile app is as responsive as the website and both the online and physical stores have a unified, complementary design. It also means that any associated product information is accurate anywhere items are listed. Giving customers an option to buy across all channels can generate extraordinary results and retailers should ensure they are offering an easy mobile purchasing experience from as many marketplaces as possible.

Be communicative across those channels, not just present

Technological innovations are also vital to maintain communications with customers and create a satisfying CX. Research from Inc. has shown that approximately 51 percent of consumers now say that a business needs to be available 24/7, and a ZenDesk report supports this claim by stating that 92% of customers feel satisfied when they use a live chat feature. In response to this, AI powered chatbots can be added to an eCommerce site to reinforce the CX and increase retention.

The demands of online shoppers are constantly evolving, and it is obvious that the retail sector has moved beyond the realms of 9-5. Therefore, it’s imperative that eCommerce technologies are used to bridge any gaps between physical and online stores and support this new generation of tech-savvy, on-demand shoppers.

Capturing your customers’ data

Gathering data is also essential to provide a frictionless CX as having personal details such as telephone numbers and email addresses allows companies to create that seamless experience between offline and online channels. This data is also valuable as it can be used to influence personalisation, something that 63% of consumers have come to expect. For example, Netflix and Amazon recommendations are now seen as standard for improving the CX by increasing user engagement.

Catching email addresses as early as possible and getting users to register their account information can be invaluable when it comes to creating a frictionless experience. For example, online accounts allow customers to make quick purchases based on their previous shopping history which helps them continue shopping, even at the point of cart abandonment. According to Marketo, around 96% of visitors to eCommerce sites aren’t ready to buy a product at their first touchpoint, so this will be useful if they drop off for whatever reason.

Nurture emails are sent to consumers at regular intervals following a customer’s first contact with a brand and act as positive reinforcement that can set the tone for future interactions. As revealed in a report by Campaign Monitor, 53% of marketers stated that having ongoing communication with existing customers results in ‘moderate to significant revenue impact’. Email marketing campaigns should be personalised to customers’ interests and by creating an automated system that can instantly send follow up emails, this will enhance the frictionless CX and help increase sales.

Research by SuperOffice.com, reveals that 60% of consumers stated they were happy for a business to collect and use their historical data if it could deliver relevant content. 58% of those in the same survey also cited being comfortable with sharing this information as they believed they would receive a ‘better overall experience’.

Security is paramount

With all this data comes great responsibility, so collecting any personal information and customer browsing data must be done securely and must abide by all data protection regulations, such as GDPR. CX and security should exist hand in hand, as consumers are savvier than ever and tend to appreciate an extra layer of security, however, this must be easy to navigate with support available on-demand should they run into trouble. Ensure that communications are clear and that online assistants are equipped with the knowledge to address potential login issues.

Online retailers need to strike a balance between what’s necessary and what’s annoying. Logins that are simple, but lack security are dangerous, while stricter, time-consuming processes may irritate users and put them off altogether. Transparency is key to maintaining the balance between the CX and security, as 74% of consumers believe it’s ‘very important’ or‘ absolutely essential’ that brands tell them exactly what their information is being used for. If it is being used for personalisation and remarketing then make it clear, as this will help to develop a strong relationship of trust and loyalty.

A frictionless CX is the key to success

It may take some initial investment and an adaptation of existing processes, but with the right planning and the appropriate tools, retailers with online arms will have everything they need to increase customer satisfaction levels and drive additional sales. A combination of the right eCommerce platform, CRM and marketing automation and AI chatbots will provide them with the foundation on which to create a successful frictionless CX.