10 Things We Learnt About Customer Experience From Shep Hyken6 min readReading Time: 4 minutes
We, at Vue.ai, had the opportunity to interview Shep Hyken, one of the most influential retail experts in the world! He is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, has been inducted into the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement in the speaking profession, and has over 35 years experience working with Fortune 100 companies to develop customer experiences.
Shep Hyken spoke to us about the ever evolving nature of customer experience and loyalty, in context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are the top ten things we’ve learnt from Shep Hyken:
1. Evolve with the customer
Customer expectations have taken a steep upturn during the course of 2020. If customers receive a premium experience at one outlet or online store, they expect the same level of service at every other outlet they visit, irrespective of the category or segment their experience belonged to!
According to Shep, once a buyer gets to experience the service provided by a company like Amazon, Zappos, Ritz Carlton or Apple, the bar is set very high.
In this kind of environment, it’s sink or swim for brands that do not live upto the customer expectations. It’s the right time to bring out the big guns and kick up the customer service levels a notch!
2. The experience is worth more than the product
Today, product differentiation is lower than it has ever been. Consumers have the ability to procure branded products from different sources. Consumers can buy Apple products on Amazon, a grey couch at four different outlets and the same green scarf from six different stores. So how can brands set themselves apart?
The answer is through experiences they offer, both online and in person. “Our research indicates customer service is so important that people will pay more for it,” says Shep Hyken. “That doesn’t make price completely irrelevant, but it puts it at a level where you can be competitively priced, do an amazing job with the customer’s experience and get them to come back.”
3. The ideal customer experience is all about comfort
Imagine walking into a store where the sales staff know your name, your preferences and provides an environment where you feel at home. It’s very unlikely that anyone would walk away from that store without making a purchase.
According to Shep Hyken, in today’s shopping environment, the retailer has to make the customer feel comfortable when making a purchase.
From introducing social distancing and hygiene measures to easily navigable store spaces and hiring a friendly sales staff, the business needs to induce a sense of confidence and create an atmosphere that resembles the comfort of the customer’s own home.
4. The innovation timeline has been pushed forward
The pandemic has brought forth the implementation of Artificial Intelligence, Augmented and Virtual Reality for online retail, and has carved a new road for innovation; The e-commerce retail industry has experienced monumental levels of growth.
What stands out is the fact that these innovations were not invented because of COVID, rather retailers are now adapting them at a faster pace than what they originally would have. “All the changes that have had to take place this year, has forced us to move into the future quicker than we would have normally,” says Shep. “I predict if none of this would have happened, five years from now, we would be doing the exact same type of AI augmented reality, virtual reality, zoom-type calls that we’re doing now.
We would be with this just pushed us into the future three to five years quicker than we would normally get there”
5. It’s time to lead by convenience
According to Shep, companies that are leading by convenience and focusing on simplifying the overall shopping experience are more likely to succeed.
Uber succeeded because they made transportation more convenient and made the commuter’s life easier by offering numerous payment options that weren’t just cheaper, but also more convenient. In order for retailers to succeed, they must offer their customers convenience at the very highest level.
6. Technology is the key to true personalisation
True personalization and rewarding customer experiences lies in understanding the nature of the customer. Their likes and dislikes, tastes and preferences, and so much more! The combination of AI and data allows retailers to utilize information about the customer’s preferences and then provide their customers a superior shopping experience be it in store or online!
“Imagine the advantage that that salesperson has with AI based technology,” says Shep, “and imagine the personalized experience that customer will receive as a result of that. This is a win-win.”
7. Retail can evolve constantly!
The term “new normal” has been thrown around frequently during this time. But according to Shep, everything in retail is simply facing a period of constant evolution. The concept of “new normal” can change again in 6 months, with more customers going back to stores and with retailers innovating new ideas to serve them, based on the information they’ve gathered online, during the lockdown.
But the fact remains that when it comes to retail, evolution is the only constant.
8. Every decision depends on the customer
One of the key traits of successful retailers is that they place the customer at the forefront of every decision.
Be it curbside pickups in grocery retail, virtual trial rooms for fashion retail or even a new slogan, companies are always keeping in mind how the consumer will react.
“So every decision you make, you consider the customer’s feelings, the reaction. You’re always considering that customer in that experience, so that’s first and foremost” Says Shep
9. The six principles of improving customer experience
The six principles of customer experience and consequently, retail growth are:
- reducing the points of friction between a customer and the company
- making good use of new technological trends,
- creating a self service solution,
- offering convenient product delivery,
- coming up with a subscription model and
- being accessible at all times
According to Shep, these six principles will take a convenient experience higher. This will differentiate a brand enough for the customer, disrupt competition and create fierce loyalty with the customers. These are the six virtues of growing as a retail business!
10. The Post Pandemic world is a world full of possibilities
2020 has been a year of learning as a whole. Despite the odds, many businesses have managed to sustain themselves and come out the other side stronger.
The industry has seen numerous innovations in selling and has set the customer experience bar higher than ever before.
According to Shep, “The retail world has a lot to look forward to. No doubt, this is going to hurt a lot of retailers, what we’re going through right now. But the ones that come out of this are going to be in an amazing position to take care of their customers.