British business mogul Richard Branson probably knows the importance of customer service better than anyone. Having endorsed more than 400 companies, the business tycoon recently shared his insight with Forbes contributor Carmine Gallo in the piece, Seven Customer Service Lessons I Learned in One Day with Richard Branson. Branson believes “that superior customer experience is the key ingredient to success in a competitive global economy, regardless of what business you’re in…Quality interactions separate the average company from the exceptional one in any category.”
In retail, the customer experience can make or break a company, so it’s hard to believe that so many retailers continue to miss the mark both online and in-store, not to mention creating an exceptional omni-channel experience. A new report from RSR Research found that more than half of retailers still believe “consumer expectations continue to outpace their ability to deliver a consistent cross-channel experience.” The same report also found that the need for a single view of the customer across all channels was one of the main organizational inhibitors.
This idea of creating a comprehensive view of each customer is key to perfecting the omni-channel retail experience. Once a customer profile is determined, retailers can then personalize messages at every touchpoint – whether online, in store or via email. This strategy is critical in today’s competitive retail environment. Not only does it create better relationships and more loyal customers, but customers have come to expect this level of personalization and frown upon retailers who can’t meet these expectations. According to the CMO Council, “54 percent of consumers would consider ending their relationship with a retailer if they are not given tailor-made, relevant content and offers.”
Men’s Wearhouse is a great example of a retailer that recognizes the unique needs of each individual customer. As one of North America’s largest specialty retailers of men’s apparel, Men’s Wearhouse provides uncontested in-store service by tailoring each piece of clothing to its unique clientele. Recently, the retailer implemented a big data strategy that uses digital communications to cater to each individual customer via email. Susan Neal, EVP, E-Business, Marketing and Digital Technology at Men’s Wearhouse, explains, “Just as our in-store tailors alter garments to perfectly fit each customer, we plan to deliver personalized emails individually tailored to each recipient.”
But email is just the start of what an Omni-channel experience should be. Customer data can – and should! – be applied to every channel to personalize communication. An email a consumer clicked through last week should inform the print catalog version you send them next week. The items returned in stores must influence the recommendations you make as they browse your site today. The items “pinned” through a mobile phone this morning should influence the email sent this afternoon,
Customers want this. They expect it, and their patience is growing thin when they don’t get it. In order to stay ahead of the pack, retailers need to follow Branson’s advice and provide quality interactions throughout the shopping process. Missing the mark on personalizing these experiences will surely have customers headed for the competition.