A recent report from Gartner found that a large majority — 81% — of customer experience (CX) leaders predict they will compete mostly or entirely on CX.
However, less than half of those responding have established the rationale for why CX drives business outcomes.
In addition, although companies believe they are improving CX, it's unclear whether they are actually doing so.
By their own metrics, 48% of respondents said their CX efforts exceed management’s expectations, but only just 22% reported those efforts exceeded customers’ expectations, according to the Gartner report.
Retailers' CX strategies are clearly falling short, but improvements can be made. Here are some suggestions from the Gartner study.
1: Assess capabilities
Retailers should take a deep dive and determine whether the data they capture provides a clear picture of customer wants, needs and expectations, rather than their perceptions of existing initiatives.
Once the customer data is gathered, touch points identified, and measurement systems implemented, consider demographics.
Millennial customers, for example, enjoy complicating CX matters.
Research shows that millennials don't take loyalty programs as seriously as older customers, because they bristle at the idea that a brand would take their business for granted.
While they may be regular customers at a particular retailer for a while, millennials need fresh, compelling reasons to be loyal.
2: Tailor customer journey maps
Provide relevant experiences at key touch points to drive customers deeper into the buy, own and advocate journey.
Brands hoping to secure loyalty need to start by putting themselves in their customers' shoes: How can a brand show loyalty to its best customers?
Understanding guests and customers across all channels and touch points is critical, no matter where they are on the customer journey.
3: Measure more innovative CX efforts differently
CX leaders must make sure to measure their more innovative customer experiences against adoption, perception and financial objectives.
Customer experience must evolve, but it must do so bearing in mind the successes of the past.
Understanding the differences between customer segments is critical.
If customers are primarily millennials, engage in a way that aims to satisfy their desire for recognition and status.
Provide them with a platform for standing out as trendsetters.
But if baby boomers are a majority of clientele, understand they prefer high touch over high tech: Service with a smile is paramount for those customers.
Gartner boils it down to this: understanding customer experience is paramount to success, one size does not fit all, and it's the customer's perception that matters most.
No matter how successful a retailer thinks it is in providing top notch service, the customer's opinion is still always right.