Using in-store technology to inspire customers is not as important as may be expected, IG&H concludes from a survey conducted among 2000 Dutch consumers. “Technology can further enhance customer experience but the right ambiance and personal attention are still decisive”, say retail consultants Joris de Bruin and Evelien Kip.

It is key to understand how great or poor customer experience influences your consumer’s behavior and your success as a retailer”, De Bruin explains. To provide retailers with more in-depth insights about the latest trends in retail, IG&H is going to publish regular updates. This research about customer experience is the sum of all online and offline interactions with a retailer’s products, services and brands.

“We see a lot of buzz around augmented reality, AI and mobile payment, but the effect of these advanced technologies on customer experience is (still) very limited if it does not contribute to ambiance and personal attention. Don’t bother to start using advanced in-store technology or social interaction experiments to improve customer experience, unless you have these basics right”, he says.

 

Personal attention is most appreciated

70 percent of the customers surveyed said to value personal attention most in an offline store. A good in-store ambiance is appreciated by 60 percent. Almost half of the respondents enjoy an element of surprise. “Think about ‘tokens of appreciation’ such as free demo products, gifts, additional services or just a sincere compliment or thank you from the staff”, Kip says.

Getting the basics right is key in creating a great customer experience

This does not mean that retailers can ignore technology completely, she explains. “Contactless payments, apps and self-scanning definitely contribute to the customer experience, but should further improve personal attention, design and ambiance. Retailers often forget about further educating and developing well-trained employees with a relentless focus on the customer.”

As a good example in this field, she names Coolblue with their XL stores. “A warm welcome awaits from a dedicated employee once you enter the store. Based on your needs, you are guided directly into the right customer journey”.

To create an excellent in-store ambiance, Kip advises on creating a multi-sensory experience, like the smell of fresh bread in the supermarket. “A great example is the Jumbo Foodmarket concept: extra wide and clearly classified isles, decorated with culinary elements speak to the imagination during your journey to the counter.”

A tailored approach to the online customer experience is required

In the online world, ambiance (or design) is most important, according to the respondents. “This can be translated into providing a user-friendly website with an appealing design aligned with the brand’s image. Contrary to the offline world, personal attention is not a must-have for a great online customer experience. We believe this is heavily linked to a shopper’s mindset and goal. Online shoppers often want a quick, easy and more anonymous journey”, Kip says.

Great customer experience transforms customers into brand ambassadors

IG&H Retail consultants focus on helping retailers to remain relevant. “Being relevant to your customers should be the key objective”, De Bruin observes. “Relevance can be achieved through successfully aligning your organization’s purpose and proposition with your customer’s expectations. It requires a connection with your customers on an intrinsic level, they need to be able to identify themselves with your brand. Key to this is providing them with a great customer experience that exceeds expectations.”

Loyal customers will act as true brands ambassadors

If a retailer succeeds, customers return more often, tell their friends and family about their experiences, and tend to buy more, leading to an increased revenue. Margins are not that easy to improve, as customers are not willing to pay more for the same products or services while having a great experience.

“A poor customer experience impacts everything, from the bottom line, to loyalty and reputation. It will make your brand less relevant and eventually lead to ending up in the retail graveyard. Retailers who put their time and effort into providing personal customer attention at the highest level possible and constantly create a pleasant ambiance, will create loyal customers who act as true brands ambassadors”, he advises.

Curious about how Dutch retailers score on customer experience? We will announce which retailers are the winners and which ones need to pay more attention to it soon.

Joris de Bruin

Author Joris de Bruin

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