It’s 2020, and offering a positive customer experience is more important than ever. How your business evolves to better fit customer needs will make or break your growth in the next decade. For example, the top 5 factors influencing a positive customer experience are convenience, customer service, personalization, communication, and incentives.
But we didn’t stop there. We talked to industry experts, reviewed research from top retail consulting firms, and summarized the ten most important points for your retail business to thrive for another decade.
1. Customers love online reviews—and they buy because of them
Online reviews have become one of the most important powerhouses in closing a sale. Reviews and testimonials are so important that 84% of shoppers trust an online review just as much as the word of a friend or family member.
Plus, reviews are more important than simply building trust with a customer—they also help build trust with search engines. Positive reviews tell search engines like Google that your business is legitimate, reliable, and trustworthy, therefore boosting your organic ranking and making it easier for new customers to find you.
2. You need to ask for reviews—they don’t fall from trees
While many retailers focus exclusively on well-crafted product descriptions and splashy product photos, reviews have become a reliable pipeline for securing new business.
How can you solicit positive reviews? Include a link in your thank you or confirmation email, display a link on your website, or position a tablet at checkout. While reviews will trickle in using these manual processes, customer feedback platforms like can help automate the steps to fill your testimonial trove to the brim.
3. You must use customer feedback to promptly improve customer experience
When every website seems to have the same inventory at a similar price, what keeps customers coming back to you? It’s the positive experience that keeps customers coming back.
One way to design an A-plus customer experience is to make your customers feel appreciated and heard. Make it obvious that you value the opinions they are sharing about your business.
Reputation management solutions immediately alerts you to customer feedback from all over the web through one easy platform. You’ll have the power to thank grateful customers and also address negative feedback before it ruins your online reputation.
Don’t just reply for the sake of it; to really show customers you appreciate their opinion, you must promptly change your business to improve future experiences with your brand.
4. Incentives and promotions should be personalized, too
Are you still distributing generic promotions to your entire online community, with mass offerings like 25% off your entire store? Customers appreciate personalization. In fact, people are 40% more likely to spend more money with your business when promotions and other communications feel personalized.
5. In-person and online customer service aren’t that different
Your salesforce should be prepared to not only offer stellar customer service in-person, but also online. When answering customer questions online, be as thorough and detailed as possible. Use your customer’s first name, clearly address their specific question, and take into account any past interactions you may have had with them. After all, customers who enjoy a personalized experience are 2X more likely to add items to their basket.
6. Customers value convenience now more than ever
Is your business ready to resolve online customer service inquiries with speed? Convenience is extremely important to modern consumers. If you’re expecting customers to wait 24-hours for a reply, you’re likely losing business.
Using a platform like Webchat, you can field questions directly through your website and reply directly to the customer’s text message inbox. By allowing customers to instantly ask questions when it is most convenient for them, you’ll nab new business in no-time.
7. Speedy response time can make or break a sale
Communication is the #4 most important factor that influences customer loyalty to a local business. Communication isn’t all about channel or content, it’s also about speed. Customers are asking critical questions when they’re just moments away from your location.
Rushing on their commute home, they wonder if you are still open. Frustrated by the traffic, they’re not sure where to park. Whether you are on the sales floor or in the back office, webchat can send immediate alerts to your smartphone so you never miss an urgent inquiry.
8. Accurate and consistent contact information is key
Information availability is another key component of convenience. Fuzzy photos, incomplete product descriptions, and inaccurate contact information not only distract customers - they outright chase customers away. Information on your site must be as clear and convenient as possible. How can you make your website the new business powerhouse it is meant to be?
Easy-to-read, concise messaging is one of the most important elements of a high-converting website. Customers will not dig through lengthy, murky word walls to find the information they need. Make sure your contact information is easy to find and your product descriptions are detailed yet concise.
9. Local search means primed buyers near you
Over the past two years, convenience searches that included “near me” have exploded in number. Growing over 200%, customers are looking for local products and services like “lawn care near me” and “car repair near me.”
In fact, Google attributes a higher ranking to local businesses whether or not the customer makes a direct location request. How can you make sure your business takes full advantage of this growing trend?
Since 83% of shoppers who visited a store in the last week say they first performed an online search, you need to optimize your online listings like Google My Business. Make sure your business name is correct, your address and contact information is accurate, and your hours of operation are current.
Get an added boost over your competition by adding in high-quality images - Google My Business listings that include photos receive an average of 35% more clicks.
10. Streamlined internal communication helps your team succeed
Fast, streamlined communication with customers often starts with your own internal team. Do you have to bounce phone calls back and forth with different departments to answer simple inventory questions? Does it take a long time for your customer service team to set up appointments with your sales representatives? The speed of your internal communication can slow down customer response time - and send the customer straight into the arms of a competitor.
Podium Teamchat is a powerful internal communication tool that lets your entire team connect and collaborate. Easily assign a conversation about inventory availability to a team member in your warehouse.
They’ll have a quick view into the entire communication journey without having to dig through mountains of emails or old voice mails. Have to reach someone out in the field? Teamchat lets you reach anyone instantly without engaging in a lengthy wild goose chase.
Running a successful retail business in 2020 comes down to how you treat your customers and the quality of your customer experience, both online and in-store. By focusing your strategy on the five trends of convenience, customer service, personalization, communication, and incentives, you’re sure to see business growth in this new decade.
Jared McKinney is an experienced full-stack marketer and copywriter at Podium, one of the fastest-growing startups in the U.S. From idea to IPO, he’s helped multiple high-growth startups lower cost per lead through SEO, content marketing and marketing automation.