Did you know that inconsistent customer experience is enough to make 60 per cent of shoppers switch brands? Our Regional VP Jeremy Smith offers his top tips for serving up a stellar customer experience across all touchpoints, every single time.

Retail businesses have long known that being customer-centric is important, and most have claimed to make it a priority. Our recent research though, which surveyed 650 Australian shoppers about what they want from digital interactions, found that ‘customer focus’ is not enough.

Every time you speak to your customers, you are either adding to their positive experience of your brand, or taking away from it. Every single interaction, therefore, must meet their most optimistic expectations, rather than disappoint. It is a rare organisation that meets the expectations of modern, digital-savvy consumers.

We found that ‘providing inconsistent experience’ was enough to make 60 per cent of people switch brands. This includes everything from walking into a store, opening an email or Googling products for price comparison. We found that, while price is likely to always be the number one concern of the bulk of consumers, how these consumers compare prices absolutely forms part of their experience of your brand, creating an opportunity for you to make that experience consistent and positive.

Consistency is important because of the increasing number of customer touch points. When I fly with Qantas I use the ticket booking site, deal with customer service by phone, have a coffee in the Qantas Club Lounge, speak with cabin crew while in-flight, receive emails confirming my booking and updating my frequent flyer points, and receive a branded boarding pass on my phone. Throughout all of this, the personality of the brand is constant. There are no surprises.

Customers have come to expect this frictionless flow from one channel to another. And most brands still don’t offer that. We all know how it feels when it goes wrong – how familiar is this scenario? You have a problem with a product you bought, contact customer service and, before you receive a response, you receive an unrelated marketing message. The reality is that two departments are not communicating. It’s suddenly clear, though, that they aren’t paying you attention as an individual, that they are selling you something before fixing your problem. You’re no longer a fan of that business, right?

This is why it is now vital that silos become collaborative teams; more specifically, it is vital that digital marketing strategies integrate with sales and service processes.

Beyond the purchase

From the customers’ points of view, buying from a business is choosing to engage with that company. The purchase is part of a relationship. And, as with all relationships, it shouldn’t come to an abrupt stop at a single point – say, the point of checkout or delivery. So then, it matters greatly to them how a company services them throughout their relationship with the brand. Does the company keep a consistent voice across all communications channels? Does the company understand them as individuals, the way high-performing businesses do?

Guess what, the tools are not the problem – we are! Cloud technology exists to ensure individualised customer information is in front of every customer-facing member of your team. The difficult part is internal business change – convincing Sales to speak to Marketing, and getting them both to speak with Customer Service. Unless the decision to collaborate internally in connecting with customers at every touch points is driven by business leadership, chances are your will still find yourself in a position where your customers hear different voices each time they communicate with your brand.

Removing friction from the customer experience

I think we are all feeling the effects of Uber and Airbnb reference fatigue - they seem to make it into every conversation about digital disruption. There’s a reason for that - they are getting it right. We know how great they are and we know those brands are disruptive. But do we really know why?

They use technology to make the customer experience frictionless. It’s as simple as that – customers can do all of their dealing with the brand through the app in their hands. The Uber app makes sure drivers know where to pick up the customer. It lets users contact customer service and receive an immediate response. It means they can get directions to wherever they are going. It means they can book their next rides. Purchasing a service, asking questions relating to it, paying for it and sharing the experiences are all easy and immediate. The whole journey with the brand is consistent and completely painless.

It’s important to remember that customers know what ‘good’ looks like – it looks very much like a company that is connected internally. So, if your business isn’t already having those internal conversations, you need to begin them very soon.

We asked 650 Australian shoppers about every aspect of the modern shopping experience, and found that retailers who want to be successful must tie their digital strategy firmly to their sales and service processes. Download our Empowered Shopper Report now and start building the seamless experience Australian shoppers want.