Posts Tagged: customer experience

How Technology is Revolutionising the Customer Experience

The ability to meet the demands of today’s customer has never been more critical to business survival. Customers now want to shop in many ways and expect to get the same ‘store experience’ across all channels. Technology is radically changing the face of the retail customer experience and the pace of change is getting quicker by the day. Retailers need to embrace it now more than ever if they want to survive. Read more on How Technology is Revolutionising the Customer Experience…

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Brands and retailers benefit from added value promotions

When Tesco created its Every Day Low Price back in 2002 it, probably rightly, claimed that all anyone wanted was to get their shopping at the cheapest possible price. As initiatives like this have developed throughout the industry so the awareness from consumers to search out the lowest possible price has increased, making it more and more difficult for brands to gain differentiation in the market place.

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Looking for loyalty? Just ask.

Companies have always looked to instil loyalty in their customers. It’s an invaluable way of increasing customer retention, generating incremental revenue and growing a business.

Loyalty can be encouraged through a variety of methods, including e-marketing, offering consumer rewards and demonstrating excellent customer service. But perhaps the most effective way of forging a lasting relationship with your customers is by asking for, and acting on, their feedback.

With this in mind, The Rocket Marketing Group present their 5 Top Tips for generating and utilising customer feedback.

1. Why do you want it?

Your first task should be to determine why you’re conducting the research, and whether you have the resources to make changes on the back of it. You may want to start with general questions to find out what customers think your strengths and weaknesses are, or you may already have an idea of what needs to be improved, and wish to tailor your questions accordingly. Is your poor customer service putting customers off shopping with you again? Is the ordering process easy for customers to understand? Are your prices prohibitively expensive? Once you have an idea of what may be alienating your customers, you can adapt your questions to find the specific things that annoy them, and get their suggestions for improvements.

2. How do you get it?

You also need to decide what form your customer feedback will take. There are several options to choose from including online surveys, emails, suggestion boxes, a ‘comments’ section on your website and utilising your call centre operatives, who have direct contact with customers every day. They all have their advantages, but it’s essential to match the method of generating feedback with your customer base. For example, online surveys or emailed questionnaires have the benefit of anonymity, which may allow customers to be more honest in their assessments. However, they are unlikely to elicit a useful response unless your customers are web-literate.

Generally, speaking to customers over the phone is a really good way of generating feedback, as it feels more personal, helps to develop a two way relationship between business and consumer, and allows you to investigate dissatisfaction by asking additional questions. Also, do not be afraid of receiving negative feedback from your customers. After all, if they only tell you what you’re doing well, you’ll never discover the improvements that can help your business reach its full potential.

3. The Reward (for your customers)

Many companies shy away from carrying out feedback surveys for fear of annoying their customers. But demonstrating a genuine interest in their thoughts and feelings lets them know that they are valued, and that you’re committed to providing the highest levels of service possible to them. Providing you’re polite, unobtrusive and respect the wishes of people who don’t want to participate, you should get some great results.

You can also offer consumer rewards and incentives either from your own company, or from a specialist provider of loyalty and reward programmes to sweeten the deal, and remind them that you took the time to ask for their opinions. Remember to thank your customers for taking the time out to answer your questions, and if their comments end up changing something about your business, tell them!

4. What do you do with it?

There is little use in spending the time and resources generating customer feedback if you’re not going to do anything with it. This is where the initial objective of carrying out the research and tailoring your questions to determine specifics about your business becomes so important. There’s no point conducting research into, say, the price of your product, if you don’t have the necessary margins to alter it when your customers tell you it’s too high.

If you’ve used a numerical system of questioning (asking customers to rate aspects of your business from 1-5 or unsatisfactory to excellent etc), you can analyse the data in a spreadsheet and look for trends, especially if you have also gathered information about the customers you’ve questioned, like their age, gender and the product they’ve purchased. If you’ve used a more anecdotal style of questioning, you’ll need to spend some time reading through the responses to understand what issues were uncovered. This may take longer, but it should give you a more detailed understanding of what your customers think of your business, and also has the advantage of providing ready made testimonials from those who’ve had a good experience.

5. The Reward (for you)

In time, you should start to see customer feedback as an intrinsic part of a cycle of excellent customer service that doesn’t simply stop once someone makes a purchase. Instead, by acting on the recommendations of your customers, you’re showing that you value their ongoing custom, and are willing to make alterations to your business to make them happy. Customers may also feel that they have an investment in your company if you make it clear you’re taking their ideas on board, and this connection between consumer and company is a key ingredient in building brand loyalty. When done correctly, it will help you increase customer retention and incremental revenue, as well as ensuring that your customers stick with you during the good times, and the bad.

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Personalisation – Join the cult of ‘customer lovers’

The customer is king so engage them with an experience fit for royalty. Gone are the days of admiration for shop windows and acceptance of repetitive brochure sites. Today’s consumer prizes customer service and their own time above all else when shopping online but most brands are not delivering on these demands.

Maintaining great customer relations requires something of a ‘cult’ instinct. Disregarded by many, but cultivated by true believers, an unadulterated commitment to customer service sets brands apart from competitors.

Personalising your online strategies can open up powerful opportunities to increase your ROI, retain customers, enhance your brand image and generate free word-of-mouth marketing.

Personalisation is key to keeping the consumer engaged with your brand, and therefore must remain at the heart of your digital strategy.

Calling on some of the best ‘cult’ status films from the last decade for illustration, here are a few insights that might help it all become clear.

1. Rita, Sue and Bob Too – know your audience

Find out who your target audiences are; every variation, then ask yourself why they choose your brand, and how it is you can help. Do they want information? To purchase? Or simply want interaction with the brand? Anticipate their needs and begin building your relationship from day one. Offer them related products or give them suggestions i.e. ‘other customers also viewed…’ Also examine where your customers are in their buying cycles and present content to them that will suit their needs.

2. Seven – understanding decision making

The main component to consider for any online business, is the ‘end-user’. Users are the central ‘cog’ in any online business, around which the website should revolve. Every brand needs to understand why their users make the decisions they do, in order to predetermine an effective strategy which will lead consumers towards purchasing, engaging and re-visiting.

3. It’s a Wonderful Life – ensure efficient customer care
Greet them every time they log in and be just as accessible online as you would in person. Ensure you employ plenty of customer service reps to answer calls throughout the day, just as you would a sales assistant 9-5. Aim to respond to all email queries within the working day, if not sooner. Personalise the e-mail, attaching a contact name, e-mail address, and phone number to use if your customer needs further help. Integrate an application on your website so customers can leave their contact number for you to call them back..there are many options out there to make people feel like you really want to service them.

4. The Matrix – create a virtual reality

Taking personalisation quite literally, look to computer games for inspiration, turning your customers into their very own virtual self. Allow their virtual character to roam the site. For fashion brands why not enable customers to key in their body dimensions and shop to suit those? Create a custom mannequin within your online store and allow the customer to try on outfits. For non clothing brands, provide something which allows the customer to test your product just as they would instore. The importance is in providing the shop experience online, so customers get a ‘feel’ for the product without actually touching it.

5. Human Traffic – go overboard with social interaction

Websites are now required to be communication channels, ways in which the customer can engage in a conversation with the brand itself. Social media alone is by far the most relevant example of free advertising through word-of-mouth. Keep up to date with social media, keep your status updates and tweets regular and relevant. Provide advice, offers and exclusive opportunities to your followers. Allow customers to chat to one another about the products available, comparing previous purchases and discussing future ones. This will lead to recommendations being made.

6. To Kill a Mockingbird – treat every customer equally
Anything that is offered online must be honored instore, for example online gift cards and certificates. Reassure the customer that any item will be possible to return both through the post or at one of its stores and that refunds and exchanges will be honored efficiently, regardless of the place of purchase. This is about reassurance to put your customers at ease any remove any objections they might have about shopping with you online.

7. Me, Myself & Irene – ‘individualise’ your customers
Customers may have similar interests, but remember they are individuals. Add personalised touches to your consumer interaction that are individual to them such e.g. mailers, offering birthday discounts or gifts. When new products launch related to their previous purchases, send them a message ‘thought you may be interested in this…’ Customers love to feel valued, so give them something back.

8. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – user-generated content
It is widely acknowledged that adding customer reviews to a website has direct benefit. Customers want to feel part of the brand and therefore deserve acknowledgment for taking time to provide an opinion on your product. Personally thank everyone for their review, but be creative, think of another media other than email. By publishing this, the customer is becoming part of your team, so treat them like it.

9. 300 (IMAX) – enrich your media
Take your audience on a customer journey using rich media such as videos, zoomable images, and 360-degree views. Generate an emotional attachment which will resurface whenever they are reminded of the brand; be it through conversation or sight of the logo. Create a lasting impression by tapping into a variety of senses, making your website the most memorable out there.

10. The Italian Job – consider the finer details

Don’t go to all the effort prior to purchase and then forget the rest. Review your checkout process to ensure it’s not too complicated or long winded. Unnecessary information requirements will just put the customer off. Allow the customer to track their purchase easily online and over the phone. Really consider attention to detail where your packaging is concerned. Mirror your brand, its image and audience with its packaging – quality products deserve quality wrapping for quality people.

By knowing your online audience and understanding what it is they really want, you can create a lasting impression, build a lifetime relationship and dramatically increase repeat business. Whilst the perfect customer experience cannot guarantee an instant sale, it certainly helps.

Join the cult of ‘customer lovers’, give them what they want, and we’re pretty sure you’ll be hooked on the results.

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New marketing avenues generate big increase in online revenue

With
VAT set to rise to 20% in 2011, the retail sector will welcome the news
that online sales jumped by 22% in May, compared to 2009 levels.

The
online market has become a key sector for businesses, in part due to
the financial limitations imposed by the recession. Companies have found
marketing and selling their products online to be a very cost effective
way of generating revenue and attracting customers, with the latest
figures
showing that shoppers spent £4.5bn online during May alone.

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Is this the end of the sale season?

As Morrisons announce an underlying profit before tax up 22% to £359m (2008/9: £295m) and the Halifax reporting that house prises rose another 0.8% last month there are now definite signs that the recession is slowing and maybe even that the end of our current economic problems are on the horizon. What does this mean for businesses and the average consumer? Will consumers maintain their spending ransom on businesses, forcing them into drastic recession solutions or will we eventually see the end of the sale season?

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Top ten UK & Ireland city breaks – the rewards for consumers and businesses

With Brits spending more and more time holidaying at home on ‘staycations’, I wanted to explore the UK and Ireland to find my favourite city break destinations, seeing what there is to entice tourists there and which businesses are potentially profiting from this increased trade. There are so many different areas in the UK and Ireland, each individual in what they have to offer tourists. And as companies such as The Rocket Marketing Group launch discount clubs like the 241 Hotel Club, which gives members 2 nights for the price of 1 at over 300 hotels, the UK and Irish tourism trade really can now compete with the rest of the world for offering affordable yet interesting and unique holidays.

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Can the British holiday boom last?

There have been many surveys and reports this year indicating an increase in the number of British people taking their holidays in Britain. Travelsupermarket.com conducted research back in July, showing that 50 % of British holiday makers said that they were most likely to book a holiday in Britain in the next 12 months. The ‘staycation’ as it has been dubbed is a new fashion that is fantastic for the British economy. But as we begin the ascent out of recession, can the British hotel trade continue to compete with the allure of foreign holidays that offer the probability of good weather and escapism from our everyday life?

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Waitrose… Pizza Express … does aggressive discounting destroy the brand value?

It seems like all people want at the moment is the cheapest deal, and that lowering prices and putting huge sale posters up is the only way to entice consumers into a shop/business. But with sale savvy shoppers and the help of internet comparison sites how far can this go? Have prices finally reached rock-bottom and how has this aggressive discounting damaged the perceived value of these items/services? Have we allowed the financial panic to reduce brands’ value? The possible recession solutions have raised so many questions for marketing professionals and as we start to see light through the economic gloom the answers are starting to become clearer.

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Cost-effective marketing during recession

Advertising is expensive and whilst it is essential, it becomes increasingly difficult for a business to advertise through the traditional mediums when advertising budgets are being slashed. Companies are looking for more cost-effective ways to promote their brands. There are lots of marketing options and some can prove to be just as effective. This is in part due to the changing times (people absorbing media in different ways) and the improvement of the channels for advertising online etc. This is compounded by the fact that most people now spend time looking for the exclusive discounts available not just the brands they are familiar with.

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