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Customer experience in store, the new normal

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It’s no secret that customer experience is a key challenge for businesses: “1 in 3 customers will leave a brand they love after just one bad experience, while 92% would completely abandon a company after two or three negative interactions.” (Source: PWC - Report Future of CX)

Experience is everything

According to a Gartner report on customer experience, customer experience drives over two-thirds of customer loyalty, outperforming price and brand combined. If you don’t meet your customers’ expectations when they visit your physical stores, they could leave you even if your prices are competitive.

Even more interesting, delivering a great customer experience opens huge possibilities for businesses, including new growth opportunities. 

"86% of buyers will pay more for great customer experience."  (source: Forbes)

As you can see, customer experience has never been more important, especially with customer returning to physical stores after the COVID-19 crisis. Even if companies invest in omnichannel experience (including e-commerce) the in-store experience remains crucial for winning and retaining customers. 

Today, people won’t go to your stores only to buy from you, they want a frictionless experience, an enjoyable time with your brand, to dive into your universe and story.

In store, brands have to make the consumer the star of the show, showing them how important they are to the brand. Human interaction matters. Entertainment too. Your future customers want you to create meaningful connections with them and reinforce the sense of belonging to a community.

“Brand experience is about designing a sensory experience that brings a person into a lasting and meaningful relationship with a brand.”  Chris Cavanaugh, EVP and CMO, Freeman

According to the same report on the future of CX from PWC, technology can help companies create phenomenal customer experiences and reap the resulting benefits: 82% of the top-performing companies report paying close attention to the human experience around digital and tech.

However, to start offering an appealing customer experience to your entire network of stores, you need to start by monitoring your customer experience and analyzing your performance to be able to improve it.

Analyzing the customer experience in stores 

Analyzing the performance of the experience you offer customers in stores is a first important step to achieve a great customer experience. When you are a global company with hundreds of points of sale, it’s not always easy to make sure that the quality of the welcome is there, your standards respected, the atmosphere fitting your brand story, the services offered and the human interactions good enough to offer a wonderful shopping experience to your customers.

Conducting a customer experience analysis is essential to learn more about your customers’ in-store shopping experience: 

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What areas need to be improved?
  • Are your stores really performing up to your standards? 
  • How is your competition doing it?

At the end, it will help you to fine-tune your retail strategy based on your customer shopping experience, understand in which stores you should invest and identify new opportunities

Of course, customer experience analysis is not a new concept. Traditional market research has offered different methods to evaluate retail experience for a long time. 

Traditional market research techniques are missing the boat

Retail ethnography

One of the best known methods is an immersive one, retail ethnography, which consists of observing the shopping act in real life with mystery shopping, accompanied shopping or even informant video diaries. This technique offers interesting results as it allows brands to see what customers do in order to understand and make sense of the retail environment. However it’s expensive to perform, and could be biased by the mystery shopper himself, or by employees realising the study was happening and not behaving as they usually do. Finally, it’s not feasible in all the stores.

Focus groups

Another frequently used method in market research is focus groups, which are interviews with a predefined list of questions in order to gauge overall sentiment in the respondent’s shopping experience. 

Even if you can conduct deep research by asking questions about the products, the services, the stock, product information availability, brick and mortar stores, and so on, the study could be biased by the fact that the brands define the questions asked, the lack of freshness, or even because you can’t learn what you’re not aware of (i.e. you won’t ask the right questions to discover what you don’t know).

Online Ratings & Reviews, a new approach to analyze customer feedback

A person at a computer looking at customer reviews.

Linkfluence has developed a unique approach to get a full picture of in-store customer experience crossing quantitative and qualitative analysis of online ratings and reviews in order to understand genuine feedback in real time and at scale. 

We automatically analyze Tripadvisor and Google’s boutiques and stores’ ratings and reviews in order to identify actionable ways to improve your brand online and offline experiences. It allows you to validate whether your service standards are being performed by employees in all your stores, from New-York to Tokyo, from London to Johannesburg. Finally, it also allows you to monitor your competitors’ store reviews to detect new opportunities.

Quantitative analysis

The quantitative analysis is based on ratings: normalization of ratings, calculation of average ratings and rankings. It gives you a statistical distribution of ratings on a specific period of time and over time. 

A screen grab of the Linkfluence Consumer Experience dashboard.

Qualitative analysis

The qualitative analysis allows brands to deep dive into the verbatim consumer reviews thanks to AI. With strong text analysis capabilities based on NLP, it detects the sentiment and affect behind the verbatims and also categorizes feedback into topics.

Graphs showing consumer experience rankings for different channels.

Thanks to an in-house methodology and high data structuring capabilities, we structure the raw ratings & reviews into categories and subcategories to allow an easier and better analysis and get instant access to actionable insight on very fine attributes.

We split the analysis into 3 main categories: 

  • Services: whether around the products (customization, product information, stock, …) or the services by themselves (delivery, tax refund, loyalty programs,...) 
  • Point of sales: all the characteristics of the point of sales such as accessibility, atmosphere, hygiene, etc.
  • In-store experience: we look at the overall experience, from the reception to the after-sales service, the human interactions, how complaints are managed,  etc.

Dedicated data visualization

To facilitate your analysis, Linkfluence offers you great data visualization tools within the platform whether you want to analyze your customer experience in depth within Radarly through dedicated CX cards and filters:

  • Volume of reviews over time
  • Ratings distribution & evolution over time
  • Average rating
  • Top / Worst rated points of sale 
  • Shopping experience attributes
  • Sentiment
  • Affects
  • Emotions

Alternatively, you can share ready-to-use actionable insight within your organization, thanks to our turnkey insight pages dedicated to CX analysis. They provide  interesting data around your points of sale and those of your competitors, following our in-house methodology based on a strong human expertise in market research and the retail industry, and our AI capabilities allowing us to analyze a huge volume of data at scale.

Learn more about Linkfluence’s CX Analysis technology here.

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