The retail industry, already undergoing massive transformation, now finds itself shifting into overdrive to differentiate based on customer experience (CX). As COVID-19 hastens digital’s ascent as the go-to channel, retailers need think about how physical locations factor into the journey. And don’t assume the environment will “return to normal” in a post-pandemic world. Retailers will need to keep innovating on the value that store locations provide, evolving toward becoming true “flexible fulfillment centers,” with fast service, accurate inventory, and differentiated experiences.
The Rise of Curbside Pickup
Buy online pickup in-store (BOPIS) is nothing new in retail, and the service will surely evolve and improve over time. But when social distancing guidelines put sudden and strict limitations on retail interactions, a new fulfillment option took center stage—curbside pickup. Curbside pickup provides the unique opportunity (when done right) to give customers the right blend of speed, convenience, safety, and associate interaction to help brands differentiate with CX. While it meets a need, curbside pickup faces BOPIS-like challenges, specifically around infrastructure capabilities (i.e., accurate inventory) and providing location-wide, standardized instructions.
How Retailers Can Meet Curbside Expectations
Digital is the “front door” to curbside pickup, which means your app and website need to meet customer needs there first—for instance, communicating the process and inventory availability. Having a customer add items to the cart only to find them not available for curbside quickly leads to frustration, a lower likelihood for return visits, and fewer recommendations.
After an order is placed, it’s vital to keep information flowing to customers:
- Coordinate order confirmation, order status, and other pre-pickup details.
- Explain the process by telling customers where to pick up upon arrival and what is needed to alert your team within the stores.
Customers are more satisfied when expectations are clearly communicated at the front end, so be realistic and communicate appropriately throughout the experience.
Once customers get to the store, associates need the right tools and processes to drive a great experience. Ensure your staff understands the importance of assisting customers with the curbside experience and set service-level standards that need to be met. Sharing customer feedback with individual stores will help guide improvements, but don’t forget about understanding the experience from your employees’ perspective: they have a front-line view of problems and opportunities for improvement.
View Curbside Pickup through a CX Lens
Follow these four CX best practices to create a fulfillment experience that shoppers will remember:
- Track the customer journey from the initial digital interaction until after the curbside pickup has been made.
- Measure across digital channels and understand the resulting tactical, operational, and strategic opportunities. Focus on how digital is helping or hurting BOPIS and curbside pickup experiences. Concentrate on process clarity, inventory availability, identifying/correcting technical issues, etc.
- Understand customer perception from order placement through order pickup. Pay close attention to improvement opportunities tied to process communication, employee feedback, and service-level standards, and configure this process to allow for swift action.
- Implement a closed-loop management process for following up with consumers who did not have a satisfactory experience (e.g., wrong/incomplete order, associates not following safety protocols, process took too long, etc.).
Retailers have a unique opportunity. We’ve already helped clients launch targeted solutions focused on measuring and understanding the curbside pickup experience. Learn more, or reach out to us today, and we can develop a personalized strategy to help you rapidly build and implement a CX solution that will leverage all the insight you need to improve the experiences your customers want most right now.
Written by Anthony Trupiano, Sales Director, Verint Experience Management