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The shopping behavior of customers in the retail industry has changed a lot in the post-pandemic world. During the last two years, we saw physical (brick-and-mortar) retail stores closed for weeks and people staying indoors for prolonged periods. During this time, online shopping rose exponentially as people had nowhere to go and nothing much to do during lockdowns. They spent their time browsing products online and buying things they did not need. While many online retailers found that people were willing to buy more during that time, it never meant that selling would be easier in the post-pandemic world.
Customers will switch brands
With people having extensive time to browse online, they came across unique brands and bravely tested them. While some experiences turned out to be abysmal, others were surprisingly outstanding which led to customers switching brands. It was pointed out in the Periscope report by McKinsey that 46% of US consumers were found to be switching brands during the pandemic. Interestingly, it was not just the products that were behind this shift. It was the online buying experience other brands offered. This led many retail experts to conclude that if a business fails to offer easier online shopping experiences, their customer retention will undoubtedly be affected.
After the lockdowns were removed people returned to their normal routines, but they had experienced the convenience of online shopping. Retail businesses saw an increasing interest of their customers in multi-channel shopping experiences. But as time moved on, omnichannel customer experiences took prominence, and now everyone is working on them.
So, what is omnichannel customer experience?
Omnichannel customer experience is related to marketing, serving customers, and selling on all available channels to offer a cohesive and integrated customer experience regardless of where or how a customer reaches out to a business. The shopping experience must remain the same for all customers irrespective of the method or platform they use.
For example, a retail customer may choose to shop online from a laptop, smartphone, or in a physical store. It is their choice. But the experience they get from all those channels should always be equally seamless.
Does omnichannel customer experience really help in improving customer retention?
A study published in Harvard Business Review revealed 73% of online shoppers to be preferring omnichannel customer experiences. Interestingly, 23% of these people who enjoyed omnichannel shopping experiences turned into long-term customers. It can be safely said that even during the last days of the pandemic, brands offering omnichannel customer experiences gained a higher customer retention ROI (return on investment). Keeping these numbers in consideration, retail experts today believe that a holistic omnichannel customer experience strategy will prove to be instrumental in building brand loyalty which will eventually lead to improved customer retention rates.
It was found in Gladly’s Customer Expectations Report that 84% of customers turned their backs on brands after having three bad experiences. Furthermore, 52% of them said that they would leave a brand without even communicating with the company. Customer experience is important and if businesses are not offering omnichannel customer experiences in 2022, they will eventually lose their most loyal customers to the competition.
Omnichannel customer experiences will improve your customer retention as it will give them an opportunity to contact your business using their preferred channels of communication. Remember, retaining a customer is cheaper than acquiring a new one. A study by Aberdeen has revealed that businesses implementing omnichannel strategies reached 91% higher customer retention year on year.
Through omnichannel experiences, your customers are guided on their preferred mediums of communication. The customer can receive information about your products through those channels as well and your sales teams can provide them with further answers to their queries. For example, a customer uses WhatsApp to contact your sales team and then contacts them using webchat. In both these ways, the customer should be attended to assertively, amicably, and promptly. An omnichannel platform will be able to unite all customer touchpoints and allow your sales team to serve everyone adequately while maintaining long-lasting customer relationships.
If you have not started offering omnichannel customer experiences, it is not too late. A report from Zendesk reveals that only 35% of businesses are using omnichannel approaches. So, you can still join in this year. The same report revealed that 86% of customers expected businesses offering omnichannel customer experiences to know who they were when they switched communication channels, so there lies the rub.