Smartphones and tablets are transforming not only customers’ buying behaviour but also their levels of satisfaction and expectations. Today, for brands to be able to satisfy consumer needs they have to be fast, personal, and helpful at the same time, all the time, everywhere. In other words, they have to provide a ubiquitous customer experience.
Here are 3 tips for delivering a successful ubiquitous experience:
- Merge offline and online customer interactions
Have you ever walked into a store and been annoyed because the item you were browsing online was out of stock? Or because you were wanting expert recommendations, but all customer service assistants were busy? Considering that 81% of shoppers browse online before going to a store, it is easy to see that people expect to be able to shop in-store similarly as they do online – without disruptions.
Many companies are now bridging the recognition gap across online and in-store customer interactions. Prime examples of this are Hilton Hotel’s Digital Key and Starbucks’ Mobile Order & Pay app feature, which allow customers who have registered with their apps to skip queues in their premises.
Last week at CES 2018 in Las Vegas we saw Hyundai Motor America’s CMO Dean Evans talk about their Shopper Assurance initiative. Thanks to this feature customers can, for example, test drive new cars from the comfort of their own homes or make streamlined purchases.
Another case of omnichannel customer service can be found in Lush’s stores. The ethical cosmetics retailer has just launched its own tablet till system, empowering its employees to roam around the store offering customers mobile checkout points, giving different payment options, as well as providing additional product information.
What the mentioned initiatives have in common is that they are tackling what could have been potential pain-points in their customers’ shopping experience; e.g. check-in queues in the case of hotels, unnecessary purchase details at the dealership when you had already decided how you wanted to pay for your car online, or slow transactions in stores.
- Drive insights from data to get to know your customers
To be able to provide that seamless shopping experience, it is essential to deeply understand the customer. That’s where data and the ability to draw intelligent and actionable insights from it come in. For example, data may say that customers indeed search online before going to a store but an insight that could be drawn from this fact is that the customer is a smart shopper that likes to invest time and effort researching so she can get the best price deals. Actionable insights relate to the customer’s story, so you can empathise with it and ultimately put yourself in her shoes.
Numerous tools exist to help you draw such insights and measure the success of your marketing efforts. For instance, web analytics programmes can show you the journey your customers make to get to your site or the type of audience a certain product is attracting. Such platforms even allow you to import data (see Google Analytics’ Data Import option, for example), meaning you can analyse offline and online customer data all in one place.
Building on the integration of customer data in the same platform, Google recently entered a partnership with Salesforce with the goal of seamlessly connecting data between Google Analytics 360, Salesforce Sales Cloud and Salesforce Marketing Cloud. The integration process has already started, so you can now import data from Salesforce Sales Cloud into Analytics 360. These connections between offline and online customer data present an invaluable opportunity to have a greater visibility of the customer journey and to uncover additional ways of meeting and exceeding our customers’ needs and wants.
A different example is the case of Amazon’s Dash Button. Apart from the obvious omnichannel experience provided by this service, it is also a rich generator of data since it gives Amazon unparalleled live access to people’s consumption patterns (e.g. how often people restock their goods, how much they buy, and what brands they prefer).
- Providing an individualised customer experience
Mapping out the customer journey highlights pain-points and helps identify new touch-point opportunities that can lead to increased customer interactions. It’s through making the most of micro-moments that you can meet and surpass your customers’ expectations and provide an individualised experience.
A very clear case is Spotify. Don’t you love listening to new songs on your Discover Weekly? How often do you think “Wow, this playlist is so me, Spotify really does know my tastes”? It all comes down to an exemplary use of data insights. Spotify applies machine learning to combine your preferred artists, listening habits, and used features to bring you every Monday a playlist unique to you.
Another obvious example to mention in terms of individualised experiences is Netflix. The entertainment company has personalisation down to a T, again applying machine learning algorithms to provide customers with individualised show recommendations based on their data. And it is clearly working if we consider that 80% of the shows watched by users are discovered via Netflix’s recommendation system.
All in all, what a ubiquitous customer experience comes down to is ease and convenience through the seamless creation and capture of opportunities for customer interaction. It’s the opportunity to turn shopping into a whole new engaging experience, with your brand standing first in customers’ minds.