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3 topics about CX from PwC's Future of Shopping program

Three topics we learnt about Customer Experience from PwC's Future of Shopping program.

  • Topic
    Customer experience

We’re taking part in PwC’s Future of Shopping program and, at the end of October, a number of our team attended a PwC masterclass in customer experience.

Delivering a great customer experience is nothing new. It’s been the cornerstone of successful retail for generations. Yet, with the explosion of eCommerce and a fundamental shift in how easy it is to buy products, customer experience has, to greater and lesser degrees, been placed on the back burner.

Not anymore. According to PwC, in 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. As consumers, we want and expect a personalised experience. Research from Mckinsey shows 83% of customers say they want their shopping experience to be personalized in some way, and effective personalization can increase store revenues by 20 to 30%.

Personalized offerings – especially when it comes to upsell and cross-sell – help increase sales as well as increase basket-sizes and conversion rates. In fact, according to Mckinsey, retailers who invest in technology are likely to achieve EBIT margins twice those of today, with the added benefits of improved customer experience, better employee engagement, and an easier-to-run store. Delighting customers by making sure they have a great experience at every single touchpoint is crucial and this was reinforced during the masterclass. Here’s our top three takeaways:

1. Technology + Human Touch = Success

While technology is a game-changer, it isn’t a silver bullet. The ‘human touch’ has to be combined with technology to deliver the best results. Technology and people help create an experience for the customer that is both rational and emotional – the rational argument defines what we do while the emotional one defines why we do it.

Technology can help us deliver better, more personalized experiences but, ultimately, people buy from people. That’s why it’s crucial for retailers to transform the role of their store associates. Store associates are no longer there to simply process payments and stand behind a desk. They are the brand champions, ambassadors, and the people who bring the brand’s story to life. The emphasis of what they are in the store to do has completely shifted. Brands want to be the best version of themselves and for the message they’ve worked so hard on crafting to always shine through. Their associates make this happen and are the key to transforming the in-store experience for their customers.

2. Understanding is greater than knowledge

Too many brands fail to understand their customers. They can have all the knowledge in the world but, without understanding, it’s of little use. PwC challenged attendees of the masterclass to ‘be their own customer’ for 30 minutes each day. Brands like IKEA take it a step further by making all their employees (no matter their role) work in-store to understand the reality of what it’s like, see how customers behave and understand the challenges. Understanding can also be developed through data – with things like reports, surveys, interviews and focus groups – but this data must be contextualized for it to be truly understood.

The more we can understand our customers – and what they want – the better the experience we give them will be. With understanding, retailers can then both advise customers on things they will like and then predict future purchases.

3. Experience matters everywhere

The focus of customer experience often falls on physical stores. It’s why stores are becoming destinations. The best stores are places where customers will go to because they offer a great way to spend the afternoon. But great experiences aren’t the sole domain of physical stores. Experience matters everywhere. PwC used the example of H&M (basic) vs H&M Conscious (exclusive). They leverage the premium feel of their Conscious collection on their website through different imagery – it’s a small and subtle change from their Basic collection but the effect it has is to connect with the customer on a different emotional level and heighten their experience.

Every interaction with a customer – whether it’s through Instagram and Messenger or live chat on the website – should be designed to enhance the customer experience.

To conclude, after a positive customer experience, 69% of people would recommend the business and 50% would return to buy again. So give your customers what they want! Whether it’s a self-checkout option, hands-on help from your associates or minimum fuss transactions, you need to be able to give your customers what they want, when they want it.

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