Redefining The Post-Covid Retail Customer Experience With Innovation, Connection & Relationships

Read how retailers must redefine the customer experience after Covid-19 with personal & emotional connection, innovation & brand building. Must-read tips.
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min read
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Retail Express
June 15, 2022
Aaron Blackman
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CEO & Founder
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Retail Express
June 15, 2022

Table of contents

Retail store doors may be reopening around the country, but things are different now. Delivering excellent retail customer service and customer experiences are still as critical as ever. But the way we must deliver them has fundamentally changed. This article shows you what you need to know and do to win your customers' trust and loyalty to prosper through 2022 and the post-pandemic period.

With crisis comes innovation, and with that, unparalleled opportunities. Understand the values and emotional needs of your customers and their desire for connection, and your brand will benefit tenfold.
personalisation and connection gives great retail customer experiences

After bearing the brutal force of a devastating global crisis where change was the only constant, any part of life is still far from 'business as usual'. The trauma of Covid has changed us and everything around us — in both small and large ways. It's caused us to rethink our priorities, ethics, human connections and the way we do business.  

With crisis comes innovation, though, and with that, outstanding opportunities. Retailers must embrace these opportunities to deepen their connection with customers and create a winning experience that benefits their brand and the customer. But doing this requires rolling up our sleeves and taking the time to understand the needs (both commercially and ethically) of today's post-pandemic customers.

It's no longer about just offering the coolest products and unbeatable prices.

What matters in retail CX now: innovation, connection & relationships{What matters now in CX: innovation, connection & relationships }

Today, thriving in retail is no longer about just offering the coolest products, fanciest furnishings or unbeatable prices. The focus has shifted to innovation, connection and relationships.

Innovation comes in many forms, but in retail, software is stealing a lot of the limelight — and for good reason. Retail businesses must embrace cloud retail POS software to satisfy customer demand and deliver these much-wanted customer experiences.

Omnichannel offers customers more choices and makes shopping easier.

In fact, we wrote about how omnichannel order management makes ordering and delivering goods easier here. But what’s especially interesting is how this software innovation also allows for greater personalisation, connection and relationships.

Personalising in the age of digitalising for better customer experiences{The importance of personalising in the age of digitalising}

So, how do we personalise at a time when we’ve been encouraged to digitalise? Doesn't that seem counterintuitive? Not at all. Once switching to omnichannel and using multiple digital channels, we use the benefits of digitalisation to our advantage.  

Get more great tips on personalisation and customer experience here: Ultimate customer experience examples & actionable tips for every ANZ retailer

A recent discussion by PWC – “Reimagining Customer Experience Post Covid-19 into Recovery” noted, "It is important to maintain the human connection and use data and analytics to tailor the experience".

Powerful software — and other forms of digitalisation such as social media — do much more than you may first think. They allow you unparalleled insights into your customers' wants, needs, habits, personal profiles and much more. And all this makes for great customer service experiences in the retail industry.

TIPS:

  • Use your customer analytics to dig deep into what clients want and prefer, where they want it and how they want to purchase it.  
  • Segment your data to provide superior, personalised messaging to your customers for greater customer satisfaction.
  • Install web chat software to have meaningful conversations with your customers while they’re most engaged
  • Go out of your way to create surveys, and offer customer feedback avenues to find out what your customers want. Then make a consistent, systematic approach to give them what they want.

Like to chat to Retail Express about creating an exceptional omnichannel customer experience with flexible POS software? Get in touch today to organise a free personalised demo.

“After a time of crisis, consumers respond emotionally and irrationally”.
- Jana Bowden, (now) Professor of Marketing at Macquarie University Business School, Sydney.

Understanding emotions to build better retail brands{Understanding emotions – the key to building better brands}

In a November 2021 article for Inside Retail, Jana Bowden, Professor of Marketing at Macquarie University Business School, Sydney, wrote that "After a time of crisis, consumers respond emotionally and irrationally”. Bowden explained that all their decision-making is covered in an extra layer of emotion. And when humans are emotional, they have a desire for affiliation, for connectedness and engagement. People cling to allies, friends and families.  

And people cling to brands.

After we’ve all endured such a significant period of isolation, your retail brand can give customers this much-wanted connection. And as your customers yearn for it, you have an excellent opportunity to deliver.

Let's look at ways you can nurture new long-term relationships with your retail customers in our post-Covid world.

Today’s retail customers want better customer experiences and brand connections

How retailers can connect, care & personalise{How to connect, care & personalise your retail customers}

Today's consumers want to connect with trustworthy brands that show similar ethics and values to them. According to PWC, "Consumers want authenticity. They want their brand to connect with them as people. They want their brands to live and breathe community, deliver upon real issues that matter and have real impact."

WAYS TO COMMUNICATE YOUR BRAND’S ETHICS & VALUES:

Show you have a purpose: Tell your customers your story. Tell them why your brand exists – why it started, what you want to achieve. Be clear about who you help (e.g., customers, manufacturers, staff, charities). But be original and authentic, as today's consumers are wisened to cookie-cutter statements.

TIPS: Ask yourself the following:

  • How does our product help the consumer (does it improve their health/minimise pain/do things in half the time/make life easier/taste better?)
  • How do we give back to our local community? (Do you employ locally/give a percentage to locals/have a local store/feed the homeless?)
  • How can we lessen our environmental impact and make our business more sustainable?  (Do you recycle/reuse/minimise packaging/source locally?)
  • How do we demonstrate gender equality, diversity, equal opportunity? (Think about work practices, employment, communications, advertising, imagery)

Convey this messaging throughout your various sales channels. (For example, on your 'ABOUT' page, tell people your story. On your homepage, include a value position — highlighting who you are, what you do, your point of difference and why people should choose you. And add these details, too.)

Messaging and communications can become time-consuming, though, and it’s easy to make errors. To eliminate these problems, ensure you use the right omnichannel marketing and messaging POS software. This way, you can receive and send all messages (including automated messages with consistent wording and tone of voice) from one place.

Demonstrate trust: A good customer experience is no longer just transactional. They want trustworthiness and transparency.

"In times of crisis, people want to be seen and understood, and they are extremely sensitive to tone and motive. Are you reaching out to help them — or to sell them something? Does your outreach feel authentic and caring — or does it appear self-serving?"
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PWC – “Reimagining Customer Experience Post-Covid 19 into Recovery

WAYS TO DEMONSTRATE TRUST:

  • Create an excellent first impression. Use relevant, good quality photos, clear wording, have a consistent brand voice and eliminate spelling and grammar errors.  Make navigation easy, so customers know you are doing the thinking for them.
  • Give customers all the info they need. (E.g., product information, shipping and returns policies, privacy policies)
  • Be clear about manufacturing processes and ethics (as above)
  • Display social proof through customer testimonials
  • Display any affiliations or awards on your website or in-store
  • Ensure that purchasing and returning products, both in-store and online is easy
  • Have trained support teams respond to customer enquiries and complaints and offer thorough customer care

From the blog: Why AU retailers must offer exceptional customer service experiences in 2022

Good Citizens recycled sunglasses brand – example of good ethics and good customer experience

Good Citizens:  A customer experience example of ethics, values & trust{Retail customer experience example – Good Citizens: ethics, values & trust done well}

Sydney recycled sunglasses label Good Citizens make their brand purpose very clear: “To help untrash the planet™ of plastic”, further explaining that “un-trashing is part of every aspect of our brand, from design, manufacturing, packaging to shipping, ocean cleanups and energy consumption.”

Similarly, they clearly illustrate their ethics and values by explaining their business activities and manufacturing protocols. All Good Citizens frames are made of 100% recycled plastic bottles, with each sale helping to fund NGO partners who’ve so far removed 4393 kg of plastic from the ocean. Manufacturing is based in Australia, the packaging is recycled and recyclable, the courier bags are compostable, and the delivery service is 100 % carbon neutral.

“Our entire business is driven by the mission to untrash the planet™ and that’s resonated well with customers. People are looking for an easy way to do their bit for the environment and they are seeking out companies that mirror their ethics and values.” - Good Citizens founder Nik Robinson

They display further transparency and trust on the website with real-life photos of the business owner, his kids, the manufacturing process and various behind-the-scenes manufacturing imagery.  

There’s outstanding social proof through reviews, impressive stats, clear messaging, brilliant product photos — and a surprisingly accurate virtual try-on app. More than just ticking the boxes, Good Citizens is an excellent example of a brand that’s exceeding expectations and delivering delight for today’s retail consumers.

Real behind-the-scenes photos of retail brands build trust

Says founder Nik Robinson, “Our entire business is driven by the mission to untrash the planet™ and that’s resonated well with customers. People are looking for an easy way to do their bit for the environment and they are seeking out companies that mirror their ethics and values. 

“You can’t fabricate purpose; it has to be authentic. It has to be at the heart of everything you do or the consumer will see straight through it. Our purpose makes sense and it doesn’t take much explaining. That’s the key to success.”

How to provide customers an excellent retail experience{How to provide customer experience (CX) excellence – KPMG’s 6 Pillars}

KPMG, a global network of professional services firms, created “The Six Pillars of Customer Experience Excellence”.  It’s a practical and precise definition of the type of emotional outcome a successful customer experience must deliver, and makes an excellent retailers’ checklist.

Here’s a simplified version of their Six Pillars:

  • Personalisation – Using individual attention to drive emotional connection. This involves showing that “you understand the customer’s specific circumstances and will adapt the experience accordingly.” For example, provide individual care, use their name and be aware of their previous history/ interactions with the company.
  • Time and effort - Minimising customer effort by creating frictionless processes and saving time. This includes removing obstacles and bureaucracy to reach a customer’s objectives quickly.
  • Resolution – Turning a poor experience into a great one. Use processes that not only solve the customer's problems but also result in an outstanding experience. Two vital components here are sincere apologies and urgent action.
  • Integrity – Demonstrating consistent behaviour that demonstrates trustworthiness — showing customers the degree to which the organisation consistently delivers on its promises.
  • Expectations – Managing, meeting and exceeding customer expectations. Know what customers require and set promises around this (e.g., delivery in 48 hours), then delight the customer by exceeding their promise.
  • Empathy - Succeeding in understanding a customer's circumstances. For example, demonstrate that you know how they feel and then go further because you understand how they feel.

Following the six pillars will help you discover your strength – and where improvements can be made. And in today's market, it's vital you address these issues.

While thoroughly investigating your personalised approach, ensure you have the right software to make this possible. The appropriate retail POS software that provides an omnichannel experience will make achieving this personalised customer experience a lot easier. You can collect insightful, actionable data, create more choices for customers and make connecting and communicating with your customers so much better.

Next steps: book a free demo{Next steps: What you need to deliver better CX}

Find out how Retail Express can improve your retail business CX. By integrating your systems with retail POS software to create an omnichannel strategy, you can create outstanding customer experiences, giving your customers the innovation, connection and personalisation they crave. Get in touch for a free customised demo today. 

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