While many retailers are constantly refining their omnichannel strategies, they should also be thinking about the most effective ways to not only reach, but delight, customers at each point of their shopping journey and how to make sure the entire journey feels like one continuous experience.
As retail continues to evolve toward an industry where customers call the shots, engaging customer experiences are critical. In a sea of retail stores that all look, feel, and do the same, an obsessive focus on exciting customer-centric interactions is how retail winners are raising the bar. Companies like Timberland, MADE, and Macy’s are attuned to what their customers want and are always experimenting to make sure their brand experience is smart, easy, and seamless.
The best way to achieve success with customer experience? Appoint a Chief Experience Officer (CXO) to make sure the customer is the top priority in every endeavor. There are 3 strategic imperatives to doing this: breaking down departmental silos, connecting online and offline marketing efforts, and implementing the next wave of technology that will benefit both the retailer and customer.
Break Down Silos
The main reason many companies struggle with fragmented customer experiences is because they work in departments with individual goals and methods, and very little communication between them. If each division (marketing, sales, in-store, e-commerce, etc) is collecting independent data without communicating and sharing that data, it becomes difficult to build a holistic picture of the customer.
The CXO becomes the endpoint for all departments, creating a checkpoint to make sure each one is working toward the same goal and ultimately giving customers a ubiquitous branded experience. They make sure every effort is consistent with the broader retail strategy and that everyone is on the same page in achieving it.
Connect Online & Offline Marketing Efforts (It’s all one)
In the very short future, there will be no “online” and “offline.” The world, and retail in particular, will be blended beyond distinction. Everything will be digital, and digital will be everything. The Chief Experience Officer (CXO) focuses on developing a communication strategy with a pulse on the systems that will drive great customer experiences regardless of channel, and technologies that improve and streamline the customer experience.
There are three pivotal points in the shopper journey.
- Pre-visit: The primary purpose of the pre-visit is research. This is where the shopper gathers information and pricing.
- Store visit: The visit happens either to the physical store or to the e-commerce site.
- Post-visit: This part of the journey is critical for retailers. This is where In-Store Remarketing is initiated to attract customers back to the store to purchase.
Currently, each of these points is seen as a separate interaction with the retailer with any data gathering being primarily focused on the visit itself, and only when a purchase takes place. Instead, consider each of these points on a continuous path and begin collecting data from the beginning of that path to the end to build fuller shopper profiles, improve personalization, increase sales, and reinforce customer loyalty. Shoppers aren’t shopping in pre-visit, visit, and post-visit iterations; they’re engaging in one fluid interaction with your brand.
Implement the Next Wave of Technologies
With customer experience and preference top of mind, the CXO is constantly on the lookout for new technologies that will integrate with and enhance the customer experience. Connected in-store technology is imperative to merging and managing shopping profiles, gathering rich in-store intent data, and providing necessary product-level content. The CXO must always be looking ahead into the future, understanding where customers will be spending their time and their dollars to know how the company will adjust to market trends.
They take into account their company’s products, specific target audience, the locations of their stores, and make adjustments to accommodate each in a way is suitable and sensible. Like the In-Store Experience Manager, the CXO has compassion for the customer, an appetite for analysis and making decisions based on data and intuition, and is a much-needed evangelist for delivering experiences customers love. But they also take it a step further to see the big picture and works on implementing cohesive branding and intelligent interactions from the top down.
Now, here’s the secret: You already have a CXO on your team. Take a moment to think about the person in your C-suite who embodies these traits: who reaches across departments to drive a common goal, who always advocates for the customer, and who is up to date on new tech opportunities. That person is your Chief Marketing Officer.
The role of the Chief Marketing Officer is evolving to become more customer-focused than ever—being a champion of the total branded experience, managing overall messaging and communications strategies, driving growth through real data and insights, and working across departments to bring it all together. Top-tier CMO’s already recognize where the customer journey fragments and are at the ready with actionable data and strategies for mending it—the single most important duty of the CXO.