Social And Mobile Come To The Forefront Of Customer Experience Management

Customers can formulate their purchasing decisions long before coming in direct contact with a brand by researching feedback from friends and followers through social networks. “Today’s shoppers can do this any time, anywhere by using their smartphones. Social networks and smartphones have empowered consumers and put them in the driving seat,” said Chris Kelly, VP of Retail for Empathica, in a recent webinar from Retail TouchPoints.

The session, titled “‘Socializing’ the Retail Experience: Customer Experience Management — Born Reporting, Reborn Social,” spotlighted the evolution of retail, and how mobile and social media are disrupting the traditional retail landscape. Along with Kelly, speakers included Dr. Gary Edwards, Chief Customer Officer of Empathica, and Dr. Emmanuel Probst, the company’s VP of Retail.

The retail industry was sparked when people agreed to barter trades based on items that were mutually beneficial. This emphasized the importance of developing and maintaining relationships, according to Edwards. However, from there, organizations evolved to operate in a global economy that was larger and more complex. Although operations were more seamless, this development led to a great disconnect between retailers and their customers.


“But today’s retailers are at an inflection point where technology is offering the opportunity to reconnect with customers on a global scale,” Edwards stated.

Many retailers are implementing social and mobile tools and technologies to go back to basics and provide customers with highly engaging, personalized retail experiences across channels. To achieve this, marketers must focus on consistent messaging and experiences, according to Probst.

“As marketers and retailers, we must remember that customers don’t think in silos: they think about your brand as one unique experience,” Probst explained. “It doesn’t matter if people are interacting with your call center, sales associates in-store, or your web site — they’re all different touch points but at the end of the day, it’s one brand experience for your customer.”

By tapping into the always-on benefits of mobile technology and the one-to-one communication of social media, retailers can create a stronger sense of community among consumers, leading to more meaningful relationships. Retailers also can leverage these tools for engagement to deliver a more compelling in-store experience for both shoppers and employees.

“The rise of social collaboration and instant access to information through smartphones has really changed consumer behavior from a customer service perspective,” Kelly explained. With expectations of the in-store experience higher than ever, shoppers are more careful about where they spend their money.

In fact, 58% of customers believe customer service is getting worse, according to research from Empathica. Despite the strong disconnect between shoppers’ expectations and retailers’ deliverability in the store, “we see this as a call to action for retailers and an opportunity in terms of strategy regarding customer experience management,” Kelly said. 

By utilizing tactics such as mobile surveys and social recommendation campaigns, retailers can provide shoppers with the ultimate incentives to engage with brands, such as discounts and coupons. The key to success in the continual adoption of cross-channel shopping strategies is to adapt brand presence and image to reflect these new technologies, according to Kelly.

“The influence of today’s consumers can be far-reaching,” Kelly explained. “At one time, if you had a great or poor experience, you had a tough time sharing this with a handful of people. Now, within seconds of a particular experience, you can push [information] to a huge number of individuals. If a retailer can create valuable dialogue with a customer, and that shoppers feels a real sense of ability to enact change within a brand, they feel empowered and really become advocates.”

An optimal customer experience management solution allows retailers to achieve a variety of branding necessities, including the ability to:

1. Deepen understanding of what drives customer loyalty;
2. Elevate operations to deliver great experiences consistently; and
3. Mobilize employees and customers as brand advocates.

As a result, retailers will be able to acquire and maintain a solid base of loyal brand advocates, Edwards explained. “Leveraging both consulting expertise and science can provide a deeper understanding of what drives customers to your brand and what causes them to be loyal.”

Click here to access an on-demand version of the complete webinar.

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