Thanks to ubiquitous mobile devices and constant accessibility, customers nowadays manage to switch effortlessly between the digital and the physical world. Retailers and brands, however, are not finding it so easy.
With the exception of billion-dollar giants, such as Amazon and Apple, e-commerce retailers face a growing gap in customer experience that is apparent between digital shopping experiences and physical product delivery. This gap is a "New Moment of Truth," a key point that can have a significant impact on customer loyalty.
The stage of the Customer Journey between purchase and delivery of a product is of utmost importance. Customers are highly engaged and eagerly await the product, revealing an opportunity for brands to exploit this joyful anticipation and heightened awareness and positively anchor their brand with customers.
Unfortunately, this step is also fraught with potential pitfalls: weaknesses in the supply chain, poor weather conditions, lost packages, and more. These points of conflict can ensure that a customer's attitude towards the brand suffers significantly before the product even has a chance to convince.
A Missed Opportunity
Few retailers have found the right way to counteract the negative impact of shipping problems, rather than shifting responsibility to carriers. The logic behind this is that the retailer loses control of the package once it leaves the loading dock. But the result of this is that the customer's concerns are alternately directed at the carrier and the retailer when a problem occurs. Ultimately, the dealer must take responsibility or lose the customer forever. But far too often, the customer's brand experience is already so damaged at this point that it can't be restored.
Rather than damage control, smart retailers can proactively address the gap in the post-purchase process and embrace the "New Moment of Truth." Smart retailers can make the most of their customers' excitement through a branded post-purchase experience by providing inspirational content or recommending relevant products and services. For example, a video in function of an instruction manual, can prevent a call to customer service or a disappointing experience.
In the same way, a proactive approach ensures that both merchants and customers can adjust their expectations and identify resolution to minor issues while they are still truly "minor." Detailed shipping tracking and opt-in notifications eliminate concerns and uncertainties about shipping and delivery. Context-specific FAQs ensure customers get exactly the help they need without having to pick up the phone.
Critical to unlocking the "New Moment of Truth" is continuity. Networked customers can effortlessly access communications, documents and media, and have moved beyond the concept of "channels."
Networked customers want unconstrained experiences and demand consistency and permanence, whether they are interacting with brands in stores, online, on the phone, or in a kiosk. Having to repeat yourself as you move between channels breeds dissatisfaction. Customers who face repetitive contacts and robotic customer service are 4 times less likely to return, according to a CEB analysis.
In creating continuous experiences, companies must realize that today's connected customers all have equal access to multiple forms of digital communication.
A significant percentage of customers prioritize ease over choice, according to a CEB study. As a result, retailers can easily focus on channels that help their customers the most, rather than offering numerous choices.
In other words, retailers should rather devote their resources to creating a pipeline that encompasses multiple selective channels. A truly successful experience extends from the "Zero Moment of Truth" to the "New Moment of Truth" and beyond.
None of this requires expensive investment in physical infrastructure; in fact, it can be a net reduction in complexity compared to traditional service models. What is needed, however, is a deep understanding of the customer journey and a new generation of powerful yet accessible tools.
A New Generation of Tools
Modern software solutions seamlessly integrate with social media, email, and e-commerce frameworks to provide team members with unprecedented insight into customer history. However, continuing this effortless experience beyond the "New Moment of Truth" presents a new challenge that must be met with a new generation of tools. These tools extend that same seamless visibility from the digital world to the real world, enabling retailers to continue to proactively provide customer service in traditional vulnerabilities, such as shipping, tracking, and returns - situations that are out of their control.
Merchants can now finally avoid the most damaging break in the service chain: referring the customer to an uninformed third party.
A good post-purchase experience isn't just a pretty billboard for a brand. It connects customers' digital experiences to their physical ones without losing interest, sentiment and, most importantly, information. Bridging the "New Moment of Truth" ensures continued success in a rapidly changing world.