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5 tips for retailers to improve online customer experiences

  • Posted on December 6, 2017
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes
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Finally! I received my Google Home Mini from a giant retailer after a few bad twists from a very unpleasant initial customer experience. They started with the right intent to keep me delighted and spending more, especially with an email offer of a gift delivered straight to my door! 

Excited by voice-activated future grocery orders, I tried to click for the offer. The instructions said I had to enter a promo code upon checkout of my next order over $300. So, I took half an hour placing my order but was so absorbed in my usual and habitual online shopping process that I forgot to enter the promo code. That’s ok, I thought, as I spent over the amount they asked for, right? Nope. 

I rang customer service to connect my order to the campaign offer but I got bad news. Unfortunately, they said they can't manually over-ride the system and suggested I cancel my order and reorder again! Frustrated, I did that and upon entering the promo code this time, encountered a bug! I called and emailed to complain – what an inconvenience. After waiting on the phone for an eternity with multiple escalations, and several weeks later of waiting for the delivery, my order finally arrived. 

With Christmas looming, I wondered how can one of the leading retailers with all their investment in digital get it so wrong? Especially with competition from Amazon landing in Australia and even the little local butcher who can tailor a box of fresh organic produce direct from the farm delivered to my home at the precise hour of need.

All in all, it was poor execution of the order management process on the retailer’s part that really could have been an easy fix. So here are my 5 quick tips that could have saved this customer experience:
1. Test. Not just for bugs in the system but UAT with design-led thinking applied. Test against the objective of your campaign, not just technical fulfillment.
2. Integrate. It’s not just system integration or integrated marketing campaigns, but connect the relevant ecosystem from supply, operations, services, infrastructure and even the external agency involved. 
3. Use your data! Don’t just collect information on me every time I shop.  Leverage analytics and buying insights to know that I already spend over $300 on every order I place to get free delivery. Don’t just use it to segment campaign targets, frame an appealing promotion that is win-win. 
4. Digitally empower employees to best serve that customer. Even an AI chatbot using machine learning smarts would have been able to trigger an automatic escalation knowing I called back the second time within half an hour. The human customer service rep at least can empathise and solve together with the customer instead of throwing their arms up and saying, “I can’t.” Then, begrudgingly, call upon a manager. 
5. Instant gratification. Heightened customer expectation demands seamless, flawless, timesaving execution. Don't make the customer work harder for something that could have been a loyalty reward. They missed out on creating a powerful moment that could have generated positive word of mouth by simply surprising me with the gift upon my next order delivery, which by the way, yes, is over $300 (every time).  

Now, I can't wait to see if this Google Home Mini works? 

Contact me if you need help orchestrating an improved customer experience or risk the switch. 

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