Customers have increasingly moved their consumption to online platforms, and this is noticeable in physical stores. More than every third respondent (35 percent) of NNIT’s Expectation Barometer 2021 believes that changes in customer behavior is the biggest threat to businesses right now - but how do you elevate customer experience so that it matches digital buying patterns? Here, we will investigate this further.
Closed business premises, declining demands, one-way aisles, social distancing, and rules for how many customers are allowed to visit a store simultaneously.
The Coronavirus pandemic has seriously threatened physical stores, and many businesses have struggled to offer the things that separate physical stores from digital ones: personal and attentive customer care. When the dust has settled, it is vital that the physical stores are ready with a new strategy that matches the new reality that we find ourselves living in.
"Many of those who, until now, have been used to doing business through physical stores must reinvent themselves and start doing business digitally - and it can be a difficult skill to master," says Brian Troelsen, NNIT’s Head of Market Intelligence and Partnerships.
"Some businesses have quickly completed the digital transformation, whereas others have struggled to keep up with those who are mastering e-commerce. Regardless, there are great rewards if you manage to execute a digital transformation and develop a so-called 'Phydigital' strategy, which unites the best elements from your physical and digital channels into one unified customer experience.
Two sales channels. One customer journey.
36 percent of the respondents from NNIT’s Expectation Barometer 2021 currently place customer satisfaction at the top of their company’s prioritization list. At the same time, a fourth (25 percent) points out that business-challenging initiatives from digitally-focused competitors are among the biggest business threats.
"Online and offline - sales are no longer separated into two different customer journeys. Most customer journeys begin online, where the customer seeks out information and compares prices, after which they either place the order online or in the physical store," says Brian Troelsen and adds:
"It is important to emphasize that the physical channels are far from redundant. However, transforming your business digitally demands that you think the entire customer journey through and create a common thread between the online and the offline shopping experience. One example is click & collect where customers order items online and pick them up from the physical store - or reversely: customers are inspired in the physical stores, after which they return home and place the order online.
Accelerate digital customer care
The results from this year’s Expectation Barometer show that more than half of the respondents (56 percent) have increased digitalization to strengthen the resilience of their business, and a third (33 percent) say that the digital business turnaround has been the top priority in response to COVID-19.
It is clear that digitalization is top of mind for businesses. But how do you manage to increase customer satisfaction and create attentive user experiences when most of the customer journey takes place on a screen?
"Generally, it is easier to retain customers who visits a physical store than customers who use digital stores. In physical stores, you meet a real person that, after some time, you develop a connection to if you like the business and the service provided. Since there is no human connection or physical presence involved in online shopping, customers are more likely to be disloyal and prone to choosing a competing online business," Brian Troelsen explains.
Luckily, there are ways through which you can create more attentive digital customer care:
"When your customers are browsing your site and interacting with the customer service, you receive various data collection points that you can analyze and use to personalize the customer experience. This could be consumer behavior, preferences, complaints, or suggestions for improvement. The feedback gives you information on how you can tailor the experience to your different target audiences, also known as personas - a fictitious description of your ideal customer," he says while adding:
"If you give your customer the impression that you are listening and that you understand their unique needs even though they are shopping online, there is a much greater chance that they will return. And here, data will provide you with the insights you need."
Improving the customer experience with artificial intelligence
A different approach to increase your presence and improve your customer relations on your digital sales channel is through your customer support.
However, customer support does not need to be exclusively handled by your employees. You can, among other things, replace the long phone queues with a more standardized and flexible customer service experience by using artificial intelligence.
"You cannot underestimate the value of well-functioning customer service. If your customers find that it is easy and quick to get in touch with you, you will obtain valuable loyalty points," Brian Troelsen says and adds:
"Here, artificial intelligence can automatize parts of the customer service experience so that your employees can concentrate on more complex and non-standardized tasks that require human involvement. All in all, this is a setup that requires less time, and in return, you gain happier customers."
How far have you come in your digital journey towards increased resilience?
You can still participate in NNIT's Expectation Barometer 2021. Taking the test will give you your personal digital resilience score and the opportunity to benchmark yourself against nine digital leaders from some of Denmark's largest companies. Take the test.