It’s 2012. Do You Know Where Your Customers Are?
Retailers, how many devices are your customers using to interact with you? Today, the website, store, contact center, Facebook page, iPad app, mobile website, and more are influencing your customers — often at different stages of the purchasing lifecycle, and sometimes more than one at a time.
What’s harder to figure out is where customers go first and why: where they decide to research as compared to where they decide to buy; and where they comparison shop (sometimes it’s in the aisles of your stores, mobile phone in hand!). Today’s consumers can (and often do) become shoppers at any time because of the variety of channels retailers use to interact with them. They can shop on the metro, at work, at home, in a mall, while on the elevator.
Having the ability to shop anywhere at any time gives consumers the upper hand. Everyday advancements in technology empower and encourage consumers to step outside traditional retail parameters, and they are more than willing to do so if the price – and the experience – is right. And more often than not, they have more knowledge than the retail associate because they have so many informational resources at their disposal and have probably done thorough research on pricing and specs before they even came to buy. Even if a customer didn’t proactively do their own research, there’s a good chance that social media interactions probably influenced their opinion of your store and products before they even walked through the front door.
In-store sales influenced by consumer research are worth trillions of dollars to retailers. A study conducted by Harris Interactive in March, 2011, showed up to 70% of consumers checked an online source before visiting a local business or restaurant. However, the devices consumers use to check those sources extend past the PC, according to Jeffrey Grau, a principal analyst at eMarketer: “The desktop has been the prevalent place for cross-channel shoppers to do online research, but there are signs that a significant share of this activity is shifting to mobile and social platforms.”
With the wide variety of methods and devices consumers use to interact with retailers, it is an absolute necessity for retailers to have a multi-channel view of the customer. Retailers should be asking their customers for feedback at every stop along the path to purchase. By incorporating a cross-channel measurement strategy, retailers can begin to understand how their multichannel efforts influence customer satisfaction.
Why is customer satisfaction important? We have nearly two decades of evidence that when measured correctly, satisfaction predicts the future financial success of a company. The benefits of focusing on satisfaction can lead to cost savings, loyalty building, and revenue increases just to name a few.
In addition to improving satisfaction, a multi-channel measurement strategy can also help retailers determine:
- The preferred path to purchase of their most valuable customers
- Whether the information about their organization in social and mobile media has a positive or negative impact on a customer’s likelihood to purchase in-store
- How their website promotions impact in-store traffic
- If their channels are providing a consistent customer experience
It’s important for retailers to understand that today’s path to purchase often crosses a variety of channels – all of which can be partially responsible for the final sale. It’s equally important for retailers to realize that higher satisfaction leads to future behaviors that have a direct impact on the bottom line.