Customer Experience Trends for Retail and e-commerce
The dynamic nature of customer experience (CX) in traditional brick-and-mortar retail has challenged B2C merchants beyond recent memory. CX in the ecommerce industry has some common CX threads with retail and just as many unique factors. To achieve CX mastery in any channel where consumers are involved, it pays to be aware of the latest trends.
You might be seeking insights on CX trends for the retail industry, online sales, or a combination of the two. First, the customer journey starts before a shopper arrives in your store or on your digital storefront. Second, it lasts further beyond their transaction and receipt of goods.
Consumer-related CX seems to occur in the blink of an eye compared to high-volume, complex B2B transactions. Yet it is important to understand the market forces guiding customer experiences now and into the future.
This article borrows insights from Zendesk’s recent research report based on surveys of 3,500 consumers and 4,600 business respondents:
Here are five CX trends impacting in-person and e-commerce retail CX that you should be aware of.
1. Consumer Expectations are On the Rise
You might think the dedication of retail workers who worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic would earn leniency around retail CX. Zendesk’s surveys found the opposite was true. 61% of customers globally say their customer service expectations have increased over the past couple of years. Just as many would switch to a competitive retailer due to a poor customer experience.
Prospective customers often cross the lines between retail and ecommerce multiple times before making an important purchase. According to RetailCustomerExperience.com, 58% of consumers feel it is faster to look up product information on their smartphone than speaking with associates. 64% of associates agree.
The demand to buy an item online and pick-up (BOPIS) or return (BORIS) in a “bricks and clicks” merchant store is increasing.
2. The Growing Divide Between Retailer CX Beliefs and Consumer Impressions
The Zendesk survey found that 62% of retailers felt their customer service quality was excellent. However, 54% of consumers responded that customer service isn’t a priority for the etailers and retailers they buy from. Zendesk recommends that merchants find ways to better facilitate customers’ purchases and resolve challenges faster.
These gains are significant to be able to better interact with clients across multiple touchpoints, including:
- In-store and over the phone
- Online live chat, including virtual and human agents
- Social media and SMS customer support
AI-powered ecommerce platforms are helping retailers to personalize their product recommendations and enhance the buying experience. The future promises digitally guided in-store experiences where mobile phone apps help customers find suitable products and promotions.
3. Customers Value Interactive, Engaging Experiences
The Zendesk CX study found that only 31% of retailers strongly agree they are adequately investing in support initiatives. A third of retail agents feel empowered to succeed, even though 83% of executives agree they are vital to customer retention. When retail agents are ill-equipped, unmotivated, and unprepared to meet customer expectations, customer satisfaction suffers.
On a positive note, customer engagement is up 14% since last year, according to Zendesk’s study. To maintain that positive momentum, many retailers are following in the footsteps of other industries with omnichannel cloud contact centers. They are interacting with clients and addressing their personalized needs with AI assistance through voice, text messaging, and social media.
Retailers should invest in tools that empower agents to feel confident in interacting with clients, not burnt out and undervalued.
4. Integrated CRM Systems Add Context and Credibility
The 360-degree view of the customer has been the sales and customer service holy grail for decades. With disjointed systems, customer service agents struggle to find the information they need to address customer concerns. Workflows that could otherwise delight customers and help grow the business are interrupted. 34% of retail agents feel they aren’t very effective at finding the information they need to satisfy their customers’ needs.
Ideal customer experiences occur when agents know who their customers are, their preferences, and how to help them. It helps to integrate CRM platforms like Zendesk into business systems like e-commerce platforms, internal collaboration tools, and accounting applications.
Flare for Zendesk from Faye was built to facilitate integration between Zendesk Sell, Support, and Sunshine applications and:
- Legacy ERP applications, including on-premise and cloud apps like SAP, Epicor, and Netsuite
- Ecommerce platforms like Shopify and Magento
- Document file management applications like Google Drive and Box
- Collaboration platforms like Microsoft Office 365, Constant Contact, and Slack
- Data lakes
- Blockchain systems
30% of retailers say they must design and adopt new work processes or risk frustrating their agents and customers. Connecting sales and support agents to the information they need through the intuitive Zendesk platform addresses their frustration. Further, it reduces the complexity, cost, and time usually associated with application integration.
Recap and Next Steps
The findings from this Zendesk customer experience study emphasized that even in turbulent times, many human values persevere. Customers want to feel valued, understood and prioritized when they invest time and money with retailers. 90% of the customers Zendesk surveyed said they would spend more for personalized, knowledge-enhanced experiences.
Customer service and sales agents also want to feel valued and prioritized. When interacting with customers, they need confidence they have the necessary information at their fingertips to meet client needs. Customers who aren’t satisfied with your services have options with other suppliers, and they will switch when given cause.
CX mastery demands that companies heed these recent trends, and invest in the people, processes, and technology which address them. Your company can take a giant leap forward by investing in Flare for Zendesk. Integrate your critical systems, and empower your customer-facing employees to access the knowledge they need to deliver compelling customer experiences.
Request a demo on our website, and discover the difference integrated CRM makes to customer experiences.