Post-NRF Next Steps: 3 Things Retailers Need to Address in 2014
With the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) “Big Show”– a blitzkrieg of sorts, throwing the latest retail technology, toys, tips and strategies at attendees – behind us many of you may be wondering: What do I do now?
The Big Show is a phenomenal event for retailers without question and is a great one for us. Actually, ForeSee team members were still meeting with people Tuesday afternoon while cranes were tearing down the booths around us. But it can be a little overwhelming for retailers once the dust settles and they get back to business as usual the following days.
Reflecting back on the more than 50 meetings with prospects and conversations with clients, I discovered three main (and very important) reoccurring topics that retailers should attempt to address in 2014:
1.) Develop an Omnichannel Strategy
Omnichannel was probably the hot topic of the week. But before we try to understand the term, let’s first understand today’s omnichannel customer.
THEY ARE IN CONTROL. Not you. With evolving technology at their fingertips they are smarter than ever before and have more choices – both in where they purchase and how they engage with companies (yours or someone else’s). And when all is said and done, with one push of a button, they can express how they feel about the experience and your company across the entire social media landscape.
Today’s customers are multichannel users, attempting to migrate seamlessly from one touchpoint to another. The funny thing is that they don’t know that. They don’t know what a channel is nor do they necessarily care – this is a made-up business term to help companies better organize internally. Consumers just know they are having a singular (omnichannel) experience with a company. So what’s the difference between omnichannel and multichannel?
- Omnichannel – This refers to the company-level experience across channels. An omnichannel experience transcends individual channel activity to encompass the overall brand experience for customers.
- Multichannel – Here, we’re talking about what’s going on within each individual channel. This incorporates the more functional aspects of interacting with customers – with a specific look at the touch-points they’re using, and experiences and interdependencies across channels. A multichannel view of the customer experience illuminates how one channel influences others and shows the path of the customer’s journey.
Despite different definitions, the goals are the same: to create a superior experience for customers. You can’t and shouldn’t expect customers to change or lower their expectations to meet your offerings. It’s up to you to make sure all of the channels are working in unity to meet (and hopefully exceed) their expectations. You need to understand the customer journey across the different channels as well as the influence and attribution of one channel on the others.
2.) Prioritize 2014 Initiatives
Per my pre-NRF blog post there is never a shortage of shiny new retail technologies and toys at the Big Show. But investing in a platoon of holographic service agents may not be in the budget…then again maybe it is for some of you. Unfortunately, there is never enough money to spend on everything you want.
Therefore, it becomes critical to invest in those technologies and initiatives that will have the most impact on improving the customer experience and driving desired consumer behavior – the things you NEED to run a customer-centric company.
Predictive customer analytics can help guide where to invest in new technologies…and maybe more importantly where NOT to invest. Measuring with the right metrics system will show you exactly what should be a priority. So when your mobile channel scores low due to poor functionality you will know to plan resources for that rather than a new toy for customer service. Sorry, but your virtual service agent initiative may have to wait.
Make sure your investment needs and wants are aligned with your customers’ needs and wants.
3.) Have a Comprehensive Customer Experience Measurement Strategy
Companies have done a good job of creating silos with each having their own unique way of looking at the customer. In reality, however, that is like speaking different languages across different parts of the organization. Companies need to breakdown these archaic metric silos and create a universal language understood by all.
Given the importance and complexity of the modern consumer, it is critical to have a cohesive strategy on how to best measure and manage the customer experiences across your enterprise. A consistent and unified customer metric, such as a Customer Relationship Measure, is a base ingredient to this approach and provides a common customer language across the company that everyone can speak and understand. An effective metric such as this can help assess the overall health of customer relationship – regardless of the preferred channel of interaction – and help uncover hidden insights on how to improve the customer experience.
ForeSee cx360 is our multichannel customer experience analytics platform that can measure everything from the customer relationship level…to the cross-channel level…down to individual channels. More specifically it provides:
Multichannel Visibility across the various customer experience points, interactions and journeys – such as shopping, account management, sales and service interactions; it also reveals insights across digital, contact center, and in-location experience points with both immediate and longer term impacts on the overall customer relationship and lifetime value.
Multichannel Insights to understand how these dynamic interactions interrelate and impact one another.
A System of Multichannel Metrics to provide precise measurement and reliable intelligence for the different teams responsible for individual touch points…for line management responsible for operational excellence at a channel level…and to inform brand-level and company level investment decisions at the executive level.
Multichannel Benchmarks to illuminate relative performance versus industry and broader market expectations – not just within an individual channel but across a set of interrelated experiences.
I’m assuming you didn’t get all of the budget you asked for this coming fiscal year. Until next January, stay focused on what you (and more importantly what your customers!) need…rather than what you want. That’s how you will succeed in creating winning customer experiences that will drive better business results. Which by the way…may just get you more budget money next year!