Since the pandemic hit, the world has moved from a period of disruption to one of evolution. Operational strategies that were forced to change purely from a safety perspective have become the norm, and brands must understand – and invest in – a hybrid style of customer experience which consumers now expect. Consumers no longer shop solely in store or online; they do what they need to do to satisfy their desire for ease and speed.
There’s no doubt that companies are investing heavily in technology, with Gartner’s 2021 forecast predicting that worldwide IT spending would reach $4.2 trillion by the end of the year. But research from CIPD shows that investment in training and development of the workforce continues to decline. This would strongly suggest that most companies don’t yet truly understand the nature of the omnichannel experience, and that future success will fundamentally depend on the right combination of people plus technology.
The Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2021 highlights that 75% of customers are willing to pay more to companies that provide a good customer experience. This perfectly demonstrates the power of customer experience; after all, not many other investments or marketing campaigns can claim to have that level of impact. The report also found that customers will walk away after just one bad experience and that the cost of earning them back is high. In our connected society, customers have multiple sources of information and chances to judge companies, so businesses cannot afford to lose focus on delighting their customers across all channels and earning their loyalty.
‘Transactional’ companies – those who are not prepared (or do not see the need) to evolve their customer experience – were falling by the wayside even before the pandemic hit, but ‘transformational’ companies – those who truly understand the need to provide a quality product or service and a great experience to go along with it – continue to grow. This has been achieved through their approach towards taking care of the needs of today’s customers.
Seasalt is an excellent example of a brand that has increased sales to £100M in difficult trading conditions through the development of their omni-channel offer, underpinned by quality products and customer service excellence. Their investment in people has increased alongside their investment in technology, because whilst technology is a CX enabler, Seasalt understand the importance of the role of their workforce in engaging customers and sharing their belief in sustainability and love of Cornwall.
Liverpool ONE is a retail destination that has long bucked the downward sales trend in the shopping centre sector and has used the learnings from the pandemic to further differentiate themselves from their competitors. With sales figures currently 22% ahead of UK retail averages the estate management team makes it clear that they place customers at the very heart of their thinking. They use research to support their occupiers and help them understand the role of the hybrid customer experience in driving revenues. During the last 4 years, Liverpool One has identified a direct link between the quality of service and sales performance and has worked with their retail and leisure occupiers to help inform their thinking and maximise footfall opportunities.
React CX is proud to work in partnership with both Seasalt and Liverpool ONE as well as other leading brands that strive to deliver best-in-class performance in their sectors.
UK retailers need to consider their investment priorities carefully; focusing on technology without educating and supporting the frontline is most certainly a high-risk strategy to adopt in 2022 and beyond.