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Why humanising the customer experience is key to business success

After a number of challenging months for Australia's retail industry, it was encouraging to see sales jump by 0.8 per cent in February 2019. This was the biggest increase since November 2017.

To ensure the retail sector keeps heading in the right direction the customer experiences delivered by brands will be critical.

With few variances between product and price, alongside the emergence of international eCommerce retailers, experience is fast becoming the new competitive battleground.

Research shows 42 per cent of consumers will pay more for a better experience, and 52 per cent will pay more for a fast and efficient experience.

Qualtrics CX solutions - strategy Vicky Katsabaris says, “To succeed in the experience economy, retailers must focus on humanising the customer experience they offer.

“Customers all have unique emotions, wants, needs, beliefs, and motivations. The most successful retailers recognise this and use data to deepen their understanding of their customers.

“Brands must think like their customers, understand their point of view, and turn that into an experience that will resonate with them."

Design-thinking tools like customer journey mapping empower retailers to do just this.

“A customer journey map illustrates customer needs from beginning to end. This includes the different touchpoints and milestones a customer goes through during the journey, helping to explain how customers move from one step to the next.

“It includes every piece of known information about the customer's decision-making process, drivers, and requirements, such as how they found the product, what channels they engaged on, and how they engaged with the business after the sale.

“Customer journey maps are a very useful tool to help align siloed teams around the needs of their customers,” added Katsabaris.

Journey maps should include four major stages: onboarding; maintaining; using or owning; and loyalty.

The journey map also has a number of sub-stages and can focus on one customer persona going through journeys across all four stages or it could focus on various customer experiences through a single stage.

Regardless of which approach is used, the journey map should identify opportunities for improvement or innovation and diagnose any issues that need to be rectified.

“Once a customer experience has been mapped, it's important to operationalise it by capturing real-time experience data across the journey.

“It can be used to discover things like why customers abandon the journey part way through, or what platforms and content drive the best engagement.”

“These types of insights shine a light on parts of the journey traditional operational data is unable to. When retailers remove barriers with experience data, they are more likely to be able to deliver more emotionally resonant experiences, which keep customers coming back.

Inspired by insights into the customer journey retailers can optimise experiences in the moments that matter, helping boost loyalty and advocacy, grow profits, and improve brand awareness in noisy marketplaces.

“With economists remaining cautious on the outlook for Australia's retail sector, humanising the customer experience has the potential to give retailers a significant advantage.

“Each brand has the data they need to deliver an exceptional experience at their fingertips, and a robust customer journey map will help them unlock its full value,” concluded Katsabaris.

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