Retail omnichannel experiences are the way of the future. Some might say they’re the way to the future. In a previous article, we defined ‘omnichannel’ with multiple definitions from varied sources. For simplicity’s sake, let’s just go with Hubspot’s definition:
“…the ability to deliver a seamless and consistent experience across channels, while factoring in the different devices that consumers are using to interact with your business.” – Hubspot
Essentially, it’s all about ensuring that customers have multiple touchpoints across multiple channels – physical or digital – and that the level of customer service experience is the same across all of them.
So can we use mystery shopping to improve retail omnichannel experiences?
Over the last few weeks, we’ve discussed how mystery shopping sheds light on customer service experiences, and we’ve focused predominantly on the physical experience of an in-store customer journey. Many businesses are shifting at least some of their sales tactics to e-commerce platforms, and most have a social media presence to act as a customer service and promotional platform. Both these digital platforms have become locations for multiple customer touchpoints. In other words, these businesses are now tackling the omnichannel world.
Mystery shopping can help companies identify the same strengths and weaknesses online as it does offline. In fact, with the growing delivery and desirability of retail omnichannel experiences, it’s becoming more and more important to analyze the effectiveness of customer service as a whole – not just in one or two channels.
By building an omni-analytical (see what I did there?) mystery shopping program together with an experienced mystery shopper provider, companies can get a full overview of what their customers are experiencing, no matter what channel they might be using. On top of that, it will give companies a clearer understanding on whether or not the retail omnichannel experiences are living up to their promises, or if they’re skewed in favour of one channel or another. Many companies, particularly those new to delivering retail omnichannel experiences run into issues where they are spending more time on one channel than the other without knowing which channels their customers truly prefer.
We often see generational and demographic splits across omnichannel options, with younger generations preferring the online platforms and the older generations aiming at the physical, in-store experiences. The same happens when we see customer service contact points: younger generations gravitate towards live chats and messengers, while older generations prefer to pick up the phone and call, or possibly, send an email. The important thing is that a business tackles all contact points with equal focus and respect. Once a company has figured out where their key demographic prefers to shop/contact them, then more resources can be done to improve and build upon those specific retail omnichannel experiences; however, it’s important not to let the other forms fall by the wayside.
There may come a time when phones are obsolete and the entire population is talking to each other via live chat, but given that we’re all still out for a human experience it’s important to maintain those connections – people respond better to people, and by using a well-structured mystery shopping program to analyze the successes (and failures) of omnichannel approaches, businesses can better capture their audience’s attention and loyalty by being where they need to be.