By Katharine Biggs, Content and Marketing Manager at parcelLab
The extent of the coronavirus pandemic remains unpredictable and it is still unclear how new restrictions will affect the retail industry on the whole. But while it seems that finally there is light at the end of the tunnel as bricks and mortar retailers open their doors after a three-month hiatus, the traditional retail world as we knew it might not ever be the same again.
Online trade, however, is still booming. As the population remains largely confined to their homes, some industries have seen upwards of a 150% increase year-on-year in sales. This influx of online sales, and the challenges that have arisen as a result, mean that it is even more important than usual that retailers give customers the best possible customer experience (CX).
CX is the customer’s perception of a brand, influenced by various interactions, across all touch points in the customer journey, from perusal and information gathering right through to returns. The experience is circular and never-ending. That means retailers must invest time and money in taking all the necessary steps to ensure that customers always have an excellent experience with your brand, which in turn means having the flexibility to adapt in order to create lasting relationships with customers and turn casual browsers into loyal brand advocates.
And while it’s important to take steps now, in light of these uncertain times brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, investing in CX should be seen as a crucial part of retailers’ long-term strategy to ensure that customers stick around and remain loyal to your brand well beyond the lockdown.
Below are eight tips for the steps that retailers can take right now to instantly improve the CX:
- Inform your customers before shipping if their order is missing any items. Now, more than ever, consumers are relying on ecommerce to fulfil their shopping needs. Especially when it comes to ordering essential goods, you must let your customers know if an item hasn’t made it into their parcel due to limited stock issues or for any other reason, before the package has been shipped. Honesty is always the best policy and will avoid any queries later down the line.
- For items out of stock, offer alternatives at checkout so the customer can still receive their desired goods. It’s no surprise that stock is limited due to reasons beyond retailers’ control at the present time. Ensure that your ecommerce site is up to speed and updating customers in real-time if items are no longer available. But don’t let the customer leave empty handed, use the opportunity to offer alternatives.
- Pre-empt any delays and proactively inform the customer about them to avoid frustration and an influx of WISMO (Where is my order?) customer enquiries. Take control of the post-purchase phase of the customer journey and keep your customers updated on the whereabouts of their parcel, as soon as you are aware of any delays. This goes a long way in reducing WISMO enquiries and adds an element of trust to the retailer-customer relationship.
- Reassure your customers: provide details about how you are protecting your staff and customers from the virus so they feel safe receiving goods. Use all platforms at your disposal to keep customers up to date with company policies and steps you are taking to adhere to government advice and fulfil online orders as safely as possible. Nerves can be high for a lot of consumers across the country, so showing them that you are taking that into consideration will go a long way.
- If the package is delayed on route, inform the customer proactively about this and provide regular updates on its whereabouts. In the digital world we now live in, customers want live information in the moment. If you have already told them that their package is due to arrive in a certain time frame, only to find that the courier is going to be delayed, let them know before they start asking.
- Communicate successful delivery via email or SMS. Contactless delivery is now a requirement. Customers can no longer sign for their parcels and many opt for the carrier to leave it in a safe place. Make sure to let them know when it has been delivered with details of where it has been left. Some couriers are even providing photographs of the package in situ outside the property, which is another great way of ensuring the package ends up in the right hands.
- Make your customers feel inspired. If they order skin products, for example, send them a tutorial on how to use them. Use post-purchase communications to engage with your customers. Offer them expert advice and tips on how to use the new product they have just purchased. Inspire them through how-to video tutorials, recipe ideas and more. People have suddenly found themselves with much more spare time on their hands and are willing to try new things.
- Offer a mix of informative and entertaining content. Include social content in your shipping communication and encourage social sharing to create a community with your customers. Feel good content like this helps to build a sense of community, which many will be craving during this period of isolation.
Coronavirus is only for now. Loyal customers are for life. If you follow these simple steps, you will not only ensure your customers have the best possible shopping experience with you, but you will also benefit in the short and long-term from more
sales, fewer WISMO calls and happier customers