As retailers globally pivot their responses to the current disruption, they are increasingly exploring how their customer experience (CX) data and systems can be helpful in managing their business through the global pandemic.

COVID-19 has undoubtedly caused a tsunami like wave over the retail industry, resulting in an increased number of retailers moving online and away from traditional brick-and-mortar stores. However, pure-play online businesses have not been immune to the change. So why is it important, now more than ever for all retailers to invest in CX?

Standing out from the competition

A positive CX not only results in making customers happy, but can also lead to additional revenue. According to NTT Ltd.’s recent Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report, half of the ANZ respondents (50 per cent) consider CX to be a primary differentiator, yet only 5 per cent are delivering it.

With more retailers moving online, there is increased competition so merchants need to be offering more personalised online experiences to remain competitive. The current global crisis intensifies the need for retailers to step up their game, as customers increasingly demand consistent and timely support.

Implementing technology that is capable of catering to these higher levels of interaction will help retailers stand out from the competition. With CX fast overtaking price and product as a key brand differentiator, retailers must address evolving customer expectations, by investing in high-quality digital transformation. But there’s still a long way to go. Research suggests that 41 per cent of ANZ organisations, compared to 29 per cent globally, say their technology systems are failing to meet current needs and many teams still struggle with legacy systems (61 per cent in ANZ, 47 per cent globally). By backing themselves with emerging CX technologies like mobile apps and chatbots, retailers can stay ahead of the competition, and ultimately keep customers coming back.

Improving engagement across the board

Retailers are taking advantage of the changing business landscape through online. With this, comes the challenge of creating and retaining a loyal customer base. In the current economic situation, customers are on the lookout for quality products at cheaper prices and for retailers, this translates into fluctuating customer engagement.

Having a successful CX strategy may just be the difference between keeping a loyal customer base or losing them to a competitor — particularly as it’s proven to improve customer and brand engagement. According to the benchmarking report however, many businesses are still stuck in the developmental stage with data showing that 30 per cent of assisted-services enquiries in ANZ failed to be resolved during first contact, while automated channels fared worse with a 36 per cent fail rate. If businesses fail to cater to their customers’ needs, how then can they develop a loyal customer base and improve engagement?

By aligning CX strategies with customer feedback, retailers position themselves in a way that showcases they care about their customers and are willing to put them first. This can only be achieved by filling the gap between data management and integration.

The retailers who invest in customer analytics to help uncover customers’ potential issues are able to create superior journeys for customers. For example, customers who have issues online can be seamlessly transitioned to assisted services via AI powered automation bots through to human powered support in the contact centre. This human connection at a time of need will create special moments that will deepen customer loyalty. The retailers who create exceptional CX will ultimately build long term customer relationships.

Invest now, for a better future 

By applying care, creative thinking and new tools to a CX strategy, retailers can address customers’ acute needs, forging stronger ties in the post-COVID-19 era.

It’s one thing to say CX is everything to your company and quite another to deliver. As more retailers than ever before turn online as a means of connecting and engaging with their audience — now is the time for businesses to deliver seamless experiences. By investing in customer experience data and systems, not only can they stand out from the crowd, but can create positive customer interactions and improve overall engagement.

Michael Slip is general manager of customer experience at NTT Ltd