With all the talk about customers and their use of multiple channels to reach that purchasing decision, physical retail stores retain one distinct advantage: face-to-face time with the customer. Forrester updated their customer life cycle diagram recently identifying two new areas - Ask and Use -  into the blueprint for marketers thriving for attention in the era of “customer-obsessed” enterprises. These new additions expand out the original four: Engage, Discover, Explore, and Buy, putting further emphasis on enhancing the customer experience, be it face-to-face or with digital channels.


ASK - Gather Data

A common retail scenario today is of a customer doing research online before heading into a physical store, or webrooming, then asking the sales associate about an item, perhaps even presenting a picture of the item on their smartphone. 

The customer’s simple question such as, “Can you tell me more about this item?” or “Do you have this item in stock?” opens the door for the associate to gather data and identify how the customer’s purchasing decision originated, where they are in the purchasing cycle, and from what channel, all whilst the sales associate looks up the item. Using an in-store tablet, the associate could confirm the product’s in-store availability, the store’s online reviews of the product, additional specials available on the product, and if unavailable at that location, other locations that can supply the item.

If the customer indicates a competitor’s lower price, the sales associate could provide additional discounts, special offers like free shipping, or present encouragement to help the customer purchase now.  For example, validating the customer’s product choice and their desire to obtain the item quickly, the associate may say, “Oh I can see why you want that model - it was rated best value headphones of 2014, that’s also why we are currently out of stock at this location. But, I can get them sent to you using our next-day courier service so you can have them tomorrow at no additional charge.” This dialogue will secure the product purchase and avoid the customer walking out and purchasing from a competitor, or online.

USE - Record and Apply Data

It is not enough to simply gather data about the customer’s buying journey – it’s vital that the data is captured and applied.  Recording the customer communication and purchase channel preferences maps the customer’s buying journey, providing a rich repository of data detailing both an individual’s preferences and channel trends.

There is a lot written about customer’s concerns regarding monitoring and security about their personal data.  However if when asking customers for additional information, you convey it will be used for a better customer experience, they will better appreciate why you are asking and supply the information. 

You can now use this data to create and apply rules along the customer’s buying journey to influence the outcome and increase the average dollars spent in each channel by increasing personalization.  For example, these rules allow you to:

  • Customize the advertisements or coupons presented during their online pre-store visit browsing.
  • Offer a concierge or personal stylist service to identified “hot-leads”.
  • Gamify and reward customers with exclusives for providing product reviews online.
  • Perform real-time A/B testing of market offers and tailor the impressions based on the result.
  • Direct the customer post-sale to a support channel, be it SMS text messaging, web chat, or traditional voice contact center.

Gathering and using channel preference data can identify entry points for individual purchasers and their preferred channels, whilst providing data on current trends to assist in identifying future sales opportunities or service needs bridging the retail physical and digital customer divide.

Join me, Genesys, Frost & Sullivan, retail thought leaders, and your peers for the Genesys 2014 Retail Summit in Chicago, May 8th for a full day of interactive sessions exploring the latest retail technology innovations that are improving the customer experience.  Register today at www.genesys.com/retailsummit

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