A customer uses their credit card to make a purchase online.In customer experience circles, there’s an approach that often gets talked about as a way to enhance the relationship between the shopper and brand: surprise and delight. Finding an unusual or unexpected way to connect with your customers can promote loyalty, reduce churn, and ultimately lead to more profitability for your business. In these strange times, customer satisfaction is vital for survival.

Let’s face it, no one’s day has ever been made worse by receiving a free coffee and cookie at Pret, just because. But there may be something even more effective that brands can do to offer great customer experience: say what they’re going to do, and then do it.

The advent of uncertainty

If 2020 could be boiled down to one word, it might be ‘uncertainty’. Job security, Christmas, even the availability of toilet roll, were all accompanied by big question marks. In the absence of a clear message or instruction, rumour and misinformation can fill the void.

For brands, a lack of clarity, or saying one thing and doing another, can lead to a poor reputation, complaints, and pushing customers away when businesses have never needed them more.

Cyberpunk 2077: Over-promising and under-delivering

Perhaps one of the most extreme examples of getting it wrong comes from the gaming world. The hotly anticipated release of Cyberpunk 2077 by games company CD Projekt Red had been promising so much since the title was first announced in 2012.

Social media, teaser trailers, and even endorsements from Keanu Reeves all set potential customers’ expectations sky-high for the game, resulting in eight million people pre-ordering according to the New York Times.

Fast forward to 10th December 2020, and the release has proved to be nothing but trouble. The game has been termed ‘virtually unplayable’ and has led to thousands of mocking videos and high demand for refunds, with Sony pulling the title from their store. Thanks to severely over-promising and under-delivering, Cyberpunk 2077 has caused CD Projekt Red’s stock to drop by 41%.

Thankfully, it’s not every day that we see such a severe consequence of a brand getting it wrong. But how much of their reputation could have been saved if they had promised less, and kept customer expectations firmly in the realm of the possible?

Start with the basics to improve customer experience

So, how to get it right, especially during a pandemic? The old idiom, ‘Walk before you run’, springs to mind. Yes, there’s exciting stuff like AI, virtual reality, hyper-personalisation, but there is also something to be said for covering the basics well. Having a mapped out view of your customer journey is always a good place to start, as it will make it clear where you have gaps.

For example, are you offering a food pick-up service without making it clear online or in store that collections are to be retrieved from a different part of the shop? Are you allowing customers to book appointments for days your store is actually closed? Review all your touchpoints and make sure you’re not driving customers towards a dead-end.

Brands may also find that the importance of particular touchpoints are changing. According to a survey by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, more than half of respondents now shop online more frequently as a result of Covid-19.

Help your customers navigate your e-commerce

However, while the pandemic has caused this increase out of both ease and necessity, it would be a mistake to assume that shopping online and being internet-savvy are the same thing. Some customers may want to move from visiting in-store to buying from a website but may need hand-holding to make this a success.

To make things easy for customers, Morrisons has created a series of Food Boxes that allow shoppers to make a food order with one click, eliminating the hassle of navigating a shop from scratch for the first time.

Morrisons’s six business priorities include serving customers better, developing popular and useful services and simplifying and speeding up processes. For those new to buying groceries online, starting with ordering a ‘5 Meals to Feed a Family Box’ or a ‘Cupboard Essentials Box’ delivers on all these priorities. A straightforward yet excellent customer experience.

We previously helped Morissons deliver the rebrand of its loyalty scheme with a customer relationship management strategy that touched all stages of the customer lifecycle.

3 quick wins to support your customers

To make sure your brand’s customer interactions are delivering on the basics, here are three starting points:

  • Review your content. What are you telling customers you will do? Where are you proving that you do it?
  • Check what customers say about you online. Is there a gap between what they expected from you vs what they actually got?
  • Look at the data. Are customers unsubscribing from your emails, and are you collecting a reason? Are you making good on the content and send frequency you promised when they signed up? Are there hidden costs associated with your products that only appear at checkout, causing a high level of abandoned baskets?

The key theme in all these points is understanding your customers and using that insight to inform how you adapt your communication channels and CRM strategy. We discuss in depth how to do this effectively in our retail future report, with a particular focus on how customer insights can inform an effective multichannel strategy. If you need guidance on how to do this, contact us for a consultation.

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