14th May 2024

Retail customer experience: Tips and strategies for success in 2024

Shopping bags

Customer experience (CX) directly influences customer loyalty, brand reputation, and competitive differentiation. The world’s biggest retail brands invest a staggering $700 million on CX a year, and the CX market is estimated to be worth $19.03 billion. Companies that invest win out because they cultivate loyal customers who are more likely to make repeat purchases, advocate for the brand, and provide valuable feedback.

Customer expectations are increasing due to rapid advancements in technology and a greater emphasis on personalized experiences, which create higher standards for convenience, efficiency, and customization in products and services. In this article, we provide tips and strategies for retail cx success in 2024.

What is retail customer experience?

A customer experience is the overall interaction and impression that customers have when engaging with a retail brand across various touchpoints, both online and offline. It encompasses every aspect of the customer journey, from browsing products and making purchases to post-sale support and follow-up interactions. A positive retail customer experience requires meeting and exceeding customer expectations, providing seamless and enjoyable interactions, and building long-term relationships.

Technological advancements, combined with major global events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, have drastically changed retail CX by accelerating the shift to digital channels and prompting innovation across the board. From same day delivery to personalized shopping recommendations, retailers have had to swiftly adapt to meet increased online demand while ensuring safety and convenience for in-person shoppers.

How does customer service and customer experience differ?

Customer service typically involves addressing specific customer inquiries or problems, focusing on prompt and effective resolution. Whereas, customer experience encompasses the broader journey and interactions a customer has with a brand, including all touchpoints and the overall impression formed throughout the entire relationship.

Customer experience vs customer service 2

Strategies to improve the retail customer experience

1. know your customer (single view)

In many businesses, customer data is stored separately across different systems, creating data silos that prevent a unified view of the customer. This leads to incomplete customer profiles, fragmented experiences, and missed opportunities. Breaking down these silos requires integrating systems, adopting centralized data management, and promoting cross-functional collaboration.

2. Upgrade the CX tech stack

Upgrading the CX tech stack is crucial for staying competitive in a rapidly evolving landscape. By investing in modern CX technology, retailers can streamline operations, optimize inventory management, and enhance customer engagement.

Moreover, upgrades enable retailers to integrate data from various sources, such as Point of Sale (POS) systems, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms, and contact center platforms such as Twilio Flex, to gain deeper insights into customer behavior and preferences. This unified view of the customer allows retailers to tailor marketing efforts, personalize product recommendations, and provide proactive customer support.

3. Meet your customer where they are

There has been an explosion in the number of messaging channels used for customer interaction in recent years, reflecting the growing diversity of communication preferences among consumers. Consumers increasingly expect businesses to meet them on their preferred channel, whether it's social media, messaging apps, email, or traditional phone support. Retailers must be able to meet them where they are.

Studies show that 81% of customers attempt to take care of matters themselves before reaching out to a service representative. It is in the business and customer's interest to make self-service as easy as possible.

4. Use AI

AI is revolutionizing CX in the retail industry by offering personalized shopping experiences, streamlining operations, and enhancing customer service. Through advanced algorithms, AI can analyse vast amounts of customer data to predict preferences and behaviour, enabling retailers to offer tailored product recommendations and targeted marketing campaigns. Additionally, AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants provide instant support to shoppers, answering queries, resolving issues, and guiding them through the purchasing process.

AI can also optimize inventory management by forecasting demand, reducing empty shelf space, and minimizing overstock situations, leading to improved efficiency and cost savings. To remain competitive, retailers need to be at the forefront of implementing this groundbreaking technology.

5. Personalisation

Hyper-personalisation is rapidly becoming the hallmark of exceptional customer experience, with customers expecting tailored interactions that resonate with their individual preferences.

Twilio Flex, a cloud-based contact centre platform, is at the forefront of meeting these heightened expectations. Leveraging advanced AI and machine learning capabilities, Twilio Flex enables businesses to deliver hyper-personalised experiences at scale. By consolidating customer data from various sources and integrating with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems and other tools, Flex empowers agents with a holistic view of each customer, allowing them to anticipate need and provide relevant solutions in real-time.

Moreover, Twilio Flex supports omnichannel communication, enabling seamless interactions across voice, SMS, chat, and social media platforms, ensuring that customers can engage with businesses on their preferred channels.

6. The future is ‘phygital’ (physical & digital blend)

Creating a seamless journey between in-store and digital experiences is paramount in today's retail landscape. For instance, mobile apps offer features such as in-store navigation, personalized recommendations, and easy checkout, enhancing convenience and personalization. By integrating these digital tools with the in-store experience, retailers can provide a cohesive journey that meets customers' evolving expectations and preferences, ultimately driving engagement and loyalty.

7. Measure customer satisfaction

Measuring customer satisfaction is crucial for driving business performance and fostering loyalty. It provides insights into areas of strength and improvement, enabling retailers to tailor their offerings to meet customer preferences.

Satisfied customers are more likely to make repeat purchases and recommend the store to others, contributing to higher profitability and brand reputation.

By actively listening to customer feedback and addressing concerns, retailers demonstrate a commitment to customer-centricity and continuous improvement, which helps retain existing customers and attract new ones.

Customer satisfaction – what to measure and how

Customer satisfaction metrics serve as vital tools for understanding and enhancing the shopping experience. These metrics enable online retailers to gauge customer satisfaction across various touchpoints, such as website navigation, product search functionality, checkout process efficiency, and post-purchase support.

Metrics like Website Satisfaction Score (WSS), Cart Abandonment Rate, and Customer Effort Score (CES) provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of the online platform and customer interactions. By leveraging these metrics, online retailers can identify pain points in the digital journey, optimize website performance, enhance user experience design, and ultimately foster greater customer satisfaction and loyalty in the competitive online marketplace.

Twilio Insights

Twilio Insights plays a crucial role in helping businesses gain this deeper understanding, and actionable insights into customer interactions across various communication channels. By leveraging Twilio Insights, businesses can analyze data from customer interactions, including call logs, messaging history, and engagement patterns. This data provides valuable intelligence on customer preferences, behavior trends, and sentiment analysis, enabling businesses to tailor their communication strategies and customer experiences accordingly.

Twilio Insights also offers real-time analytics and reporting capabilities, empowering businesses to monitor performance metrics, identify areas for improvement, and make data-driven decisions to optimize customer engagement and satisfaction.

Although Twilio primarily focuses on digital communication channels such as calls, messaging, and chat, businesses can integrate offline interactions into their customer experience strategy by leveraging data from other sources, such as CRM systems, POS terminals, and in-store surveys. By consolidating data from both online and offline touchpoints, businesses can gain a holistic view of the customer journey.

The platform can also facilitate cross-channel analysis and reporting, enabling businesses to identify trends, patterns, and opportunities for improvement across all customer touchpoints, whether digital or offline. Overall, Twilio Insights serves as a versatile tool for businesses seeking to measure and optimize customer experience metrics across a variety of channels and interactions.

Retail customer experience examples

Self service

A leading retailer in the automotive industry wanted to better serve customers looking to trade in their vehicles. We developed an AI-power chatbot, powered by Dialogflow, that’s capable of handling price negotiations up to a certain threshold. The AI draws upon information from the organization's rate book and makes fully informed offers. The solution has resulted in a peak in demand and a reduction in call waiting and resolution times.

Connecting disparate systems

A big US retailer wanted to improve its instore sales support. We brought together disparate customer service and sales systems via the Twilio Flex platform. In-house point of sale systems, along with delivery and returns were integrated, and customer service agents and instore staff now have access to the same information with which to better assist customers. Shoppers can now even text store clerks to enquire about item availability and pricing, and request items be put aside for their next store visit, making the whole experience much more personable.

QR code “Hold my place”

A business wanted to keep the sense of urgency and excitement surroundings its limited time ‘pop-up’ stores, without asking its customers to wait in long queues. We built a solution using Twilio SMS that, upon arrival, asks shoppers to scan a QR code to receive an electronic ticket confirming their place in line, along with estimated entry time. They then receive a second SMS when it is their time to enter. The result is improved customer experience, while the retailer captures key customer data that it can be use in future retail promotions and initiatives.

Summary

The retail CX landscape in 2024 is characterized by the integration of advanced technologies and a customer-centric approach.

By understanding and anticipating customer needs, retailers can create seamless and personalized interactions across both digital and physical touchpoints. Strategies such as leveraging AI for personalization, enhancing self-service options, and using platforms like Twilio Flex and Twilio Insights can significantly improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.

As consumer expectations continue to rise, staying agile and responsive to these changes will be key for retailers aiming to differentiate themselves and achieve sustained success in a competitive landscape.

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