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What Retailers Still Get Wrong About Customer Experience

Shopper expectations have reached new heights on the heels of the pandemic and emerging technology, says Blake Morgan, a customer experience futurist and author. Her own experience during the pandemic exemplifies this trend.

In a recent interview with Retail Uncharted, Blake explains how, like many consumers, she fell in love with Peloton. “I love how they use my data to tailor the experience to me more each time I ride,” she says. Although physical restrictions are lifting, she’s not planning to give up her newfound passion, and her expectations are that the Peloton experience will become more personalized as time goes on.

Similarly, retailers who provided additional value to shoppers during the pandemic, whether through personalization, ease of product discovery, or fast and sustainable shipping, won new customer loyalty. The expectations for seamless and engaging online shopping aren’t going away as the pandemic recedes. In fact, they are only rising as shoppers take greater control of the customer experience. Retailers who fail to add value to that experience risk becoming obsolete.

“The biggest customer atrocity you can do is make the customer’s life harder,” says Blake, speaking with Sidecar’s Senior Director of Growth Mike Perekupka.

In this episode, Blake provides strategies for online retailers to build winning customer experiences that meet and exceed shoppers’ new expectations.

During the podcast, Mike asked Blake:

  • How can retailers develop better customer experiences online?
  • What technologies support winning customer experiences?
  • What are the biggest mistakes retailers make when it comes to customer experience?
  • What key lessons should retailers take from your book, The Customer of the Future?
  • Why aren’t retailers embracing data-driven solutions?
  • How can retailers balance the need for shopper privacy with the need for personalization and convenience?
  • What are the biggest trends that will impact customer experience in 2022?

Top Sound Bites

On changing customer expectations after the pandemic:

Blake: COVID made it very hard for customers to get things done, and so they were willing to cheat on their favorite brands. They were willing to use an app to buy groceries, to have a meeting with their doctor through the computer. You saw that customer behavior change so much. So many companies had to step up and go through a digital transformation quickly.

I think more customers have their needs met in a seamless, zero-friction way and so that really set the precedent that now, more so than ever, customers expect the company to be able to rise up and serve them in the channel of their choice without many problems, and even go a step beyond and deliver personalized experience.

Retailers need to understand what the customer’s trying to do, where they’ve been, what’s happening with them right now in real time, and where they might need to go in the future. Customers expect that and so few companies actually deliver it.

On creating better online shopping experiences:

Blake: I would say online shopping, you know, we’re still not where we need to be. We’re still relying so much on cookies and working in a very kind of antiquated mentality. It’s about just in time experiences that serve the customer the experience that they might need in that moment.

I think companies still are not data-driven. There was research that came out this year that is very interesting. A recent report shows that in 2021 most companies would not describe themselves as data-driven, and actually the numbers have gone down. In 2020 and 2019 companies described themselves as being successfully data-driven, more so than this year.

I think what was really noteworthy to me about this research was that companies are not data-driven not because of technology, but because of cultural issues. It’s really change management that is hindering companies’ ability to be data-centric and data-driven, but studies also show that investments in AI and being data-driven are up. 

On balancing privacy and personalization to better serve customers:

I would encourage retail marketers to review their data strategies, and instead of relying on third-party data, start creating relationships with customers based on great experiences. I mean as a marketer, think of how you would feel being a customer with kids. I personally really value my privacy. I don’t put pictures of my children on the internet. I don’t allow other people to do that. I’ve had my identity stolen a few times in a very public way. We have to think: how would we feel if we’re creating an experience for our grandmother, our child, our best friend? Is that an experience we’d want them to have?

Customers—they matter. They’re voting with their wallets. They’re voting with where they spend their time, and deleting apps if they feel their privacy has been breached. I would encourage marketers to focus more on building relationships based on value, rather than, “How much of your data can we grab, and then we’ll just flash products at you.”