Today, consumer facing technologies are growing at a faster rate than backend business process based technologies. This of course is great for consumers since they have more options to shop from, but retailers need to work even harder to garner consumers’ attention. It’s no surprise that “omni-channel” and CX have become the buzz words today.
But what is CX anyway?
The customer experience – CX, as it’s popularly known, is the sum of all interactions that a customer has with the brand from start to end; the entire journey right from researching the product, choosing to buy it or not, the after sales service and now more importantly – where to buy it from – online or offline or a combination of both.
What’s even more critical to realize is that customers want the best of both worlds. So, CX, as opposed to its widely discussed definition, is not just about the front – ending digital store and associated technology but more about rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty with the unifying of vastly different systems and processes unique to each function within the organizations. In other words, making your systems talk to each other with the resultant outcome of a seamless customer experience in a multichannel world.
Why does it matter?
It’s simple. It matters because it is the critical differentiator between your brand and the competitor. The race on Customer Experience today is to get to a Segment Size of One (SS1) – where only the “single consumer” matters. New age consumers expect retailers to understand their specific requirements. Enter personalization!
Let’s assume a customer views and orders a product online, and would like to pick it up at a store close to their workplace. The product is paid for, the order is accepted and a pick – up is scheduled for the next day. However, when the customer gets to the store, the front desk isn’t aware of the order and the product ordered is out of stock at the store! You’ve just lost out on a customer and potential promoter for your brand!
Sales and promotional offers often warrant price changes online as well as across the retailers brick & mortar presence. But what if, after the promotional period, there is a mismatch between the price on the price tag and one on your POS systems? More often than not, it’s an upwards difference. At the time of billing, your store’s billing desk needs to be empowered enough to change the price in the system to accommodate a buyer. If not, you’ve pretty much unleashed “brand wrath” which then translates into a lost sale, a lost customer and far reaching negative advocacy both on ground and on social media. This butterfly effect can be prevented only if you’ve dirtied your hands enough with ensuring that your core operations and systems are technologically agile.
What do we do about it?
Make CEM your “mantra” to ensure that you have a 360-degree view of customers, with real or near-real time data. These include interactions through traditional channels, such as website purchases, phone calls and evolving models like social media, E-commerce and mobile applications.
Architecting the services model and your IT ecosystem such that both the front and the back legs of your omni-channel existence are running in tandem with another. Realistically, you can’t have one without the other! This means that you need to integrate order processing, inventory, POS, payment, delivery and purchase history which then will finally lead to impeccable service delivery. This needs to be bi-directional, supporting you in servicing customers as necessary and as quickly as possible via self – service.
In the Brick & Mortar Avatar, this will also keep your front-line up to date and empowered enough to present a personalized offering by leveraging individual purchase histories while servicing walk-ins to the store.
For B2B, though, the systems at the backend are generally more complex with an ERP at its core. However, proper ERP integration can help you here too. It streamlines interactions between suppliers and buyers, by combining disparate systems and making them accessible through one common platform and that is what matters most for a good B2B experience.
The road to mastering CEM in a cut throat competitive world is a tough one, but immersive customer experiences are the key to winning customers over, and over again.