As the retail industry turns increasingly digital, customers are now more well-informed and connected than ever before. To take on this challenge, and drive significant customer engagement, retailers need to blur the lines between the offline and online retail experience. This calls for making data analytics—operational and customer—a key component of an organization’s growth strategy.
In our latest white paper, Retail Analytics: The 5 Keys to Success for Customer Analytics in the Retail Industry, we focus on how data analytics can help retailers to better serve their customers and in turn increase conversion rate, loyalty, and ROI. We go over the importance of having a personalized shopping experience for your customers and how to build an effective personalization strategy.
This latest piece is a follow-up to our white paper from last fall, Retail Analytics: Turning Operational Data into Actionable Insights, which highlights the importance of operational analytics and its potential in solving the various challenges that retailers face. More specifically, retailers are able to analyze various internal functions within their organization and subsequently streamline them for a greater ROI.
Both these papers show the importance of data analytics within the retail industry and how insights drawn from data analytics can help retailers discover business capabilities/challenges and increase overall ROI.
Not many businesses understand the adage that “good news travels fast and bad news travels faster.” In today’s digital and mobile era, any experience – good or bad – can travel globally in seconds. For retail brands, the market is a high-stakes game of exceeding customers’ expectations.
Brands that impress their customers boost retention rates and drive their revenue higher. In fact, raising customer retention two percent can produce revenue equal to a ten percent cut in costs.
Stop making customers jump through hoops
High-touch customer service programs look beyond single touch points. They focus on the end-to-end experience. That means taking a holistic view of the customer journey. Why? Because just one negative contact can taint an otherwise positive experience.
So, how do you create a world class customer experience in retail? You need to embrace these key elements:
- Deploy a flexible and scalable workforce. This ensures that customers have a good experience no matter when they interact with your brand. This is critical in the retail industry with its huge increase in traffic during the holidays. Top retailers raise their staffing by two to three times during this period.
- Create a first-call resolution rate of 90% or higher. Imagine a customer has a technical issue with their TV. They call the retailer they bought it from. The retailer suggests calling the manufacturer directly. The manufacturer points them back to the retailer and even the cable provider.
At this point, the customer returns the product out of frustration. Your bottom line suffers and your brand takes a hit to its reputation. You can avoid all of this just during the customer’s first call.
- Implement behavior-based training: An expert workforce can get you close to a 90 percent first-call resolution rate. However, managing to a metric won’t get you beyond the goal. Breaking through requires teaching each agent the skills that “wow” customers. More important is instilling an outspoken boldness in your representatives. They need to feel rewarded for reporting broken tools, processes and policies. Fix what’s broken and you’ll drive beyond 90 percent.
Ensure customers only have good things to say
Your customers talk about your brand whether you see it or not. In fact, 87 percent of them will share positive interactions—and 95 percent will share their bad ones. In short, high-touch customer service retains and attracts new customers through word of mouth.
Making the investment in high-touch customer experience is a must. It’s vital than ever in today connected, digital world where one bad contact can go global.
In a recent posting we discussed “journey mapping” as a tool for improving customer experiences in the healthcare sector. This week, we share thoughts on “design thinking,” an approach that is described as “a human-centered way of innovation that draws from the designer toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success,” according to design thinking guru Tim Brown, Chief Executive Officer, IDEO.
Put simply, design thinking tackles problems with the objective of keeping peoples’ needs always in mind while working towards solutions that succeed from a business perspective as well. It does so by a process of divergent thinking – ideating, prototyping, testing – that ultimately converges on the most viable solution.
When it comes to the United States’ healthcare sector, however, applying design thinking to working with health plans and health providers is particularly challenging. Here’s why:
Firstly, the healthcare sector’s complex regulatory framework means stakeholders are sanctioned more for under-regulating than for over-regulating, so they tend to be cautious when design and regulation come face-to-face. One approach, however, is to brainstorm design challenges as if the rules simply don’t exist, and then to overlay them to see where they create pain points, adjusting the design as needed.
A second challenge when applying design thinking in healthcare is designing a service that works for an entire population. Most products and services are aimed at specific demographics. With healthcare, however, a true design solution must cater to people of varying ages, accessibility needs, income levels, language abilities, as well as housing and employment status.
One more major challenge for healthcare-related design is its multi-agency structure. A care plan for someone can involve several different providers, from a hospital to a physical therapist, all of whom need to be brought onboard during the design thinking process. Add in the growing importance of home care, the accompanying family & friends support network, and the ability to apply this concept at scale is apparent.
To combat the variables of design thinking in healthcare in the real world, it is critical that hospitals and healthcare companies prioritize prototyping and testing before implementing change. Focus groups enable concepts to be tested with a variety of patient demographics and, importantly, with service providers, sometimes overlooked in an increasingly patient-centric industry.
Real change requires stakeholders to work together, often necessitating a shift in culture and the willingness to reject “custom and practice.” For those willing to embrace change, design thinking offers a way to reconcile the needs of both patients and service providers.
Design thinking is making positive waves across industries and is enabling companies to rethink and rebuild the way they do business. The same is true for banking and financial services companies, as today’s rapidly changing consumers are driving an evolution of business process and design. While design thinking alone can be a large task, there are three simple ways to make the most of design thinking in banking and financial services to positively impact your customer experience.
Walk in your customers’ shoes.
It is important for all companies to take a step back and walk in their customers’ shoes. Instead of designing products and services based on past results with current offerings, following trends to guess which way consumers will jump next, or implementing new technology in pieces, financial institutions can have a solution ready for the future needs of the consumer by applying design thinking, a human-centric approach to digital transformation. Whether solving frustrations along the customer journey, improving digital channels, or identifying new service opportunities, design thinking puts customers first.
Have flexible tools and options to be able to operate nimbly when testing initiatives and gathering critical data.
Human-centered design has the potential to make interactions with your product or services more accessible, productive, beneficial, and thus more desirable. Once the desired customer experience is identified, imagination and exploration produce various possible designs, adjusting as necessary per the company’s strengths, resources, and technical capabilities until the right solution presents itself. Banks and financial institutions must stay on their toes to keep up with the changes in consumer preferences, competition from non-traditional players, and ever-changing regulatory scrutiny. Getting help upfront with research, design, and bridging any gaps can have a huge impact on retaining and growing your business.
Leverage support from inside and outside your industry.
In addition to design thinking, now is the time for banks and other financial institutions to leverage a more consultative approach. A recent Forrester study focused on the digital readiness of financial services firms. During the study, Forrester divided respondents into two groups: doers and aspirers. The authors of the study describe doers as those more likely than average to follow best practices most or all the time, compared to the aspirers. The doers, the study found, were more likely to seek outside help. There are several barriers to embracing digital, which can include lack of resources (or competing internal priorities), insufficient buy-in from all stakeholders, and even cultural barriers. One such barrier of note is the lack of creative and innovative thinkers within the organization. An ingrained culture of “this is how we’ve always done it,” or “it is not in the budget” can squash the very innovative thinking that can take their organization to the next level. Going it alone, without the proper resources, vision, documentation and ROI comes with a lot of risk and can cost more in the long run, while falling considerably short of expectations. Seeking inspiration from outside one’s own organization can also improve the solution and provide an edge against competitors who simply follow the leader. It is important to adopt a comprehensive digital solution that addresses entire processes to have the most positive impact on your customer experience and resulting profitability.
In sum, design thinking and customer journey mapping are processes that require investment in time. Yet a simple investment of time into exploring the user journey can lead to ideas and innovations that will take your business and customer experience to the next level with reduced risk, and a structured plan for measurable success. Stay tuned for more tips and ideas on how to maximize digital in your organization. Until then, be sure to check out our recent white paper, “Embracing Digital to Transform the Banking and Financial Services Industry.”
“I know what it’s like to be in that situation. I was once homeless,” said Genevieve Davis, having seen news reports of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation. A hurricane evacuee herself ten years ago, Davis felt compelled to help victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
So, she rallied with her Global teammates in their Tucson, Arizona office and was one of many who donated 100% of their recently earned overtime pay to the MLBA Disaster Relief Fund. Through a variety of local fundraisers, Global employees around the country have raised more than $136,000 for the fund. You can find Genevieve’s story, and see images of other relief efforts at Global, here.
The folks managing the relief fund are the good people at Making Lives Better with Global (MLBG), an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit. It’s mission is to make lives better by providing assistance to Global employees, their families and the people, organizations, and communities who support them.
A self-funded, crowd-sourced organization, MLBG lives and breathes at the grassroots level. There’s a chapter at each Global office in the US. Every chapter’s board of directors are the local office employees and they call the shots. They decide how to raise funds, who to help with grants and when and where to volunteer. You’ll find MLBG’s disaster relief updates here.