By NTT Senior Director – Go-to-Market Customer Experience ANZ Michael Slip.
The latest round of Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions have forced Australian retailers to once again reassess their strategies and manage shifting consumer demands.
Customers are becoming more demanding, and competition is fierce. It’s essential for retailers to review their customer experience strategy and ensure it matches up to the current climate.
The trends and behaviours that were apparent in 2020 are vastly different to the ones we are seeing today. The market has changed, and customer expectations are continuously evolving. The strategies that retailers have in place must evolve alongside these trends and investing in the new tools and technologies plays a central role to improving customer experience.
An evolving customer base
With retailers managing a raft of new restrictions, many brands have shifted their business models, particularly in NSW where non-essential retail is closed for consumers and ‘browsing’ is prohibited but click-and-collect and delivery are still allowed. With consumers forced to change the way they shop, new digital customers are introduced out of necessity.
As online shopping becomes the reality for more consumers, there comes a diversification of customer demographics.
In early 2021, when we lived in relative normalcy, some consumers reverted to old habits. Those same consumers have now been forced back to digital channels and this expanded range of shoppers will need to factor in retailers’ customer experience strategies today.
As many brands face supply chain issues and shipping delays, particularly in the lead up to Christmas, it’s essential that retailers are prioritising customer transparency and communication to maintain positive customer relationships.
Personalised pathways for customer loyalty
Building personalised customer experiences is an essential part of remaining competitive, retaining existing customers and attracting new ones. As retailers manage a more varied customer base, it’s critical that they guarantee a seamless and personalised experience. Data analytics plays a key role in the ability to deliver this.
Customers expect to be met and served where they want, when they want, and how they want – all served in a dynamic way. The integration across multiple channels comes from a cohesive design, content and technology. Analytics enable retailers to deliver rich, personalised content no matter where a customer is shopping. Creating these experiences sets a retailer apart from the hoard and creates excitement from customers.
Automating to enhance the experience
Data enables retailers to gain visibility into customer behaviour, which in turn addresses individual customer needs in a systemised way – bringing us to automation. The number one thing that automation gives to brands is the improvement of efficiencies through data-driven decisions. This provides an enhanced real-time experience for customers.
Chatbots, as an example, are an important way of automating customer service leading to quicker response time and resolution of queries. In collaboration with the human element, which will remain essential to CX, chatbots take a lot of manual strain off customer service teams and the ever-expanding applications present new opportunities to enhance retail experiences.
As retailers continue to adopt chatbots and AI-driven natural language processing bots, these will increasingly take a retailer’s first and early-stage interactions with customers. This streamlining of the customer journey is key to securing and maintaining relevance and sales in an increasingly crowded marketplace.
Change is the lifeblood of business
The world we live, work and play in is ever-changing – that has become clear in the last few years. There is no standard playbook for businesses that can be applied year after year. Retailers must continuously adapt their strategies as the needs and expectations of their customers change.
Investing in new technologies that enhance customer experiences, regardless of when, where or how a customer shops is essential. The retailers who adapt their strategies, keep customers at the forefront, and implement new tools will be the ones who create exceptional customer experiences and maintain strong customer loyalty.
About Michael Slip
Michael Slip is Senior Director – Go-to-Market Customer Experience at NTT Australia. He is responsible for ensuring NTT has a compelling suite of CX and collaboration solutions and services nationally, from consultation to implementation through to operational support. Mr Slip has a wealth of experience in the customer contact industry, focused on how technology innovations can advance clients’ strategic goals.
About NTT Ltd.
NTT Ltd. is a leading global technology services company, working with organisations around the world to achieve business outcomes through intelligent technology solutions. For NTT, intelligence means data driven, connected, digital and secure. Its global assets and integrated ICT stack capabilities provide unique offerings in cloud-enabling networking, hybrid cloud, data centres, digital transformation, client experience, workplace and cybersecurity.