Building a brand used to be rather simple – a good product at a good price was pretty much a recipe for success. In the past, customers were satisfied with the quality of the goods they received and continued to shop where they felt like they could get the best value. “Used to be” is quickly becoming a thing of the past as consumer mindsets have changed.
While consumers are still concerned with getting the best bang for their buck, a lot of focus has shifted to customer service, and more specifically, the overall customer experience. As a July article on PYMNTS.com notes, “Consumers want a seamless shopping experience, and if they don’t have one, they want someone to make it right post-haste.”
So what exactly does that mean? What’s the “customer experience,” anyway?
For online giant Amazon, customer service is one of the company’s top bragging rights, and in the future, it’s going to have to be a strength for every successful brand — at least, that’s what Applause CEO Doron Reuveni thinks. “Traditional competitive differentiators such as lower pricing and better products are no longer enough,” he said in the PYMNTS.com article, adding: “The experiences a customer has when interacting with a brand — from the consideration phase through purchase and support — are now determining the winners and losers.”
Reuveni’s opinion highlights the growing trend of consumers preferring a seamless buying process. Today’s customer experience encapsulates a variety of factors. Whether it’s a store offering multiple payment options, personalized and dedicated service, or an “ask-no-questions” return policy that’s becoming synonymous with Amazon and Walmart among others, a complete customer experience involves a lot of different components.
Believe it or not, payment processing is part of the customer experience as well. And, an unfortunate reality is that payments can be one of the areas of greatest friction, mainly for e-commerce players, especially if they operate globally and need to handle many different forms of payment. Even within their own country, smart merchants will want to offer a variety of payment options for shoppers, from credit and debit cards to digital wallets and other mobile payment methods going forward.
A February report compiled by Forrester Research indicated that consumers are further integrating mobile into their everyday aspects of living and working. Meanwhile, merchants are increasingly looking for ways to attract customers, boost transactions, and improve the existing customer experience. “Today, mobile commerce functionality involves more than just delivering products from the warehouse to the customer’s home. While all forms of digital payment still lag behind paper and physical charge cards, overall mobile payments will grow at a 20.3% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) through 2021,” the report concluded.
Most experts agree that the overall customer experience is fast-becoming the center of brand success or failure. And while the road to excellent customer service isn’t an easy one, especially for legacy brands that were not built to be mobile or even online-first, learning to adapt and catch up with customers who demand this type of experience will be crucial for businesses of all types.
Count on National Merchants Association to keep you and your businesses up and running while ensuring a customer experience that’s second to none. For more information, feel free to contact us. We’d love to help your business become a more profitable one!