Providing valuable Customer Experience online has become more important than ever, particularly since the new GDPR regulations came into force in May.
This requires brands to work even harder to earn customer data. Organisations can no longer collect, store, or use personal information from individuals without their consent, so customers must make the decision to opt-in to marketing strategies used by brands, such as targeted emails.
So far, only 27% of customers (according to a survey of more than 1,000 consumers, which was conducted by Toluna) believe their experience with brands is better since GDPR, suggesting that businesses are struggling to collect and use data, such as internet browsing habits or geolocation, in a valuable way. If brands want to create personalised and targeted e-commerce experiences, they first need to understand how to earn this information back.
A recent Sitecore survey found that many consumers in the UK are comfortable with brands having access to their information, with over three quarters being happy to share their name (78 percent) and email (74 percent), over half (53 percent) their email address and 43 percent their browsing history.
However, customers need to be offered something of value in exchange for this data, and brands that have bombarded their customers with irrelevant content and promotions have seen their databases shrink significantly since GDPR.
So, what can brands do to win back customer trust? Well, they should initiate a long-term strategy to develop personalisation and offer unique, tailored online experiences through new business models by understanding exactly what customers want.
Deliver consistent personalisation across all platforms
GDPR has given customers the opportunity to share their data only if they are happy with the interactions they receive from brands. As a result, they will no longer tolerate being spammed with irrelevant information. This means brands must use the data they collect in the most effective ways possible by moving beyond personalisation to individualisation to ensure a great customer experience.
For example, online retailer ASOS now compiles multiple points of data to allow it’s ‘Fit Assistant’ to recommend a size for each item to individual shoppers. Customer’s own purchase history and size preferences, including information about their body shape, and data compiled from customers with a similar purchase history, are all used to recommend the perfect size.
Before ordering a new coat, ASOS may recommend a size 10 for you, based on the knowledge that 78 percent of customers with similar size preferences to you who bought this size were satisfied with it. Such individualised recommendation provides the customer with a valuable experience; the reassurance that their new purchase will fit, without the inconvenience of having to order and return if it doesn’t.
Amazon is also going beyond broadly segmenting customers based on one of three pre-determined body shapes by trialling 3D body-scanners that monitor an individual’s body, allowing them to virtually try on clothes and suggest styles that are better fitted to their own body. Such individualised experiences encourage customers to share more personal information with the brand, as they feel more valued and less frustrated as they are not targeted with irrelevant content.
It is also crucial to deliver these experiences across all physical and digital touchpoints. As today’s customers are using more channels and platforms than ever before, a coherent cross-channel customer experience strategy should be employed, using tactics such as a cross-channel shopping baskets, which customers can access from any device, or email offers that apply directly to a customer’s local store. From supporting, informing and educating customers to providing them with entertainment, it is important that the experience is seamless.
Offer convenience and quality through new business models
Brands that have operated the same way for decades are being challenged by new business models, such as subscription-based services, which respond to the increasing customer demand for unique, personalised and convenient experiences without having to commit to contracts.
Deloitte research suggests that millennials care more about experiences than owning things, and a convenient, repeated subscription service is the type of service they value highly. These business models also ensure a customer base of loyal and engaged customers that have given you the permission to reach out to them with news, updates and personalised offers. This is all made possible through the power of collecting data and using it effectively.
Any type of online business could consider the benefits of a subscription model, like we’ve already seen it in the entertainment space from Netflix and in the retail space like HelloFresh and Amazon. Netflix uses an algorithm which records customers viewing preferences from the very first time they watch a film or an episode, tailoring future recommendations to every individual.
It even personalises the digital aspect of the site. For example, customers may see one of nine different images advertising the Stranger Things series, based on information that the site has collected about them. This means that once a customer is subscribed, their experience should always match their preferences, keeping them satisfied and therefore ensuring they return.
Amazon has also taken its subscription service beyond Prime this year, offering both a children’s book box and a fashion box, Prime Wardrobe, which deliver monthly curated selections from the retailer. This allows Amazon to apply its consumer data and increase its reputation for providing convenient, personalised shopping.
Even dog food suppliers are benefitting from such models. Chewy, a pet supplies brand, now offers monthly subscriptions for dog food to make dog-owners’ lives easier, removing the need to carry heavy bags home from the store and offering extra savings and convenience if customers opt to automatically repeat their order every month.
This mixture of convenience, quality and value works in a continuous cycle to encourage customers to sign up and remain loyal to a brand, happily share their data for the service they get in return and allow the data to be used to make future experiences with the brand even better. As a result, brands can accumulate more accurate and valuable data, equipping them to better serve their customers and deepen the existing customer relationships.