Reframing success: why customer experience matters  

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024

By Jon Knott, Head of Customer Insight,  Dojo

Prioritising customer needs has long been hailed as the king of success. When it comes to retail or any consumer-focused business, the concept of customer experience is hardly new. But what does creating a good experience really mean, and what is the true value for businesses? As customers look to shift their spending priorities and expectations, this doesn’t have to spell lost sales and profit margins for today’s high street. Instead, we have an opportunity to reimage how we can engage with customers and adapt to meet their evolving needs.

Customer expectations are changing

There is no getting away from the fact that the pandemic and now the rise of the cost of living have impacted consumer attitudes. Today’s economic landscape is ruthlessly competitive, and COVID presented an incredible challenge for businesses of every size. However, this doesn’t mean it is all doom and gloom, in fact, it is quite the opposite for businesses that can tap into the experience economy and up their game.

In a recent survey, 58% of consumers cited that COVID has made them realise how much they value experiences. This data reflects that there is a fundamental shift taking place when it comes to consumer spending and expectations, and this presents an opportunity for businesses.

 The role of convenience vs experience

So how can businesses foster a great experience? It is not about bargains and one-off discounts that are going to get customers back through the door. Instead, it is about creating memorable moments – small and personal touch points that follow customers throughout their entire experience. Businesses need to be making the most out of their consumer relationships at every opportunity – from face-to-face interactions to creating a smooth and frictionless experience from the very onset. Fortunately, technology is available which can not only enable this, but also provide critical data and insight to businesses, empowering them to truly understand their customers’ habits.

It may feel tempting to focus on huge promotions and convenience in order to tempt customers, rather than the experience. And these factors do have a time and place – the rise and success of services such as Deliveroo and Amazon are two particularly successful examples. They are absolutely doing something right, and have capitalised on convenience, swiftness, and ease as the key driving forces. But when consumers are hitting the high street, the experience has the opportunity to make or break a business. Consumers aren’t turning to high street shops for fast and cheap products – they want an experience.

Therefore, for bricks-and-mortar businesses to truly ride this wave and compete in today’s digital world, they must recognise the need to offer something that the convenience economy can’t – a great experience and a sense of occasion. This is what is going to bring customers back through the door. While this may feel like an impossible task, creating an experience can be done with small and simple changes, and technology can provide you with the insights and data you need to enable this.

Turning a good experience into an exceptional one: The role of technology

Customers want to have a valuable and distinctive experience, one where they feel appreciated, listened to, and understood. They’re prepared to spend their time and money provided they get something in return. Therefore, high street shops don’t need to slash prices or implement costly schemes in order to keep pace. It is about tapping into the unique service you can offer, and memories you can create.

Understanding who your customer is and what they care about is the best way to drive value. The way to do this is through tech, data, and insights – because, ultimately, the more you know your customer, the better experiences you can create. In addition, a loyal customer is the most effective way of growing any business. The same research revealed that 72% of respondents would take the time to go online to praise a business that goes the extra mile. So putting in the work really can create a multiplier effect.

It may feel like a daunting task, but technology can enable retailers to connect with customers and create digital touchpoints throughout the entire journey. In order to stand out from the competition, businesses need to look at how they engage with their customers. The experience economy offers face-to-face businesses the opportunity to offer something that online convenience stores can’t. You don’t have to stretch your business too far and offer something that is not achievable, instead look at what you are doing that others can’t. The experience economy is here to stay, so it’s down to business owners to adapt their offerings to meet demand. Couple this with technology and insights to help truly understand what makes your customers tick, and we will see the high street rise to the challenge.

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024