Many retailers are undergoing five simultaneous nightmares without knowing about it, each of which reduces their return on marketing investment, decreases their overall earnings, and interferes with retail operations, according to Vaibhav Khamesra, marketing director for Capillary Technologies.
Retailers across the world are facing similar problems when it comes to managing and growing customer relationships, brand value, and competitive threats. Without examining each of these commonly-overlooked key issues - or 'fails' - it is certain that most customers will end up defecting to a competitor before long. The five top 'fails' identified by Khamesra are:
- Lapsed sentiment
You can always tell when lapsed sentiment rears its head. At first, everything is normal: your active customers remain active. Suddenly, those active customers begin to lapse. As a direct result, sales drop. People who used to visit you decide not to return to your locations, or your site, or your other points of sale. Somewhere, somehow, the sentiment for your brand is no longer there. The 'love' is gone.
What to do: You need to reward lapsed customers if you want them to return to the fold. Focus on individual visits: if you can get them back into the store just one or two more times, you can often prevent customers from leaving your company. New Joinee enrolment programmes, well-timed deals and better customer communication can help solve this problem. Social media and creative, content-driven engagement will also help.
- Bad service experiences
This is a worryingly common problem, and it removes all good feelings a customer has toward your brand. It shows up in the form of a fight with a customer service rep, a complaint about store conditions or an insult on social media. A once-vibrant customer declines rapidly into dormancy. Sometimes it happens gradually, and sometimes instantly, downgrading your customers quickly through an unfortunate turn of events.
What to do: The best way to prevent dormant customers is to pay attention to them and answer their needs before they become dormant. Try to find a solution that allows you to closely monitor sentiment indicators such as social media and interaction with your customer service department. Look at the totality of their customer experience so your brick and mortars and online stores don't transform into ghost towns.
- Generalised marketing
A brand is in trouble when it starts sending out generalised offers to everyone - when it's focused on blanket campaigns rather than those compelling selling points that brought customers through the doors in the first place. For example, brands often send out emails looking worryingly like this: Hello CUSTOMER, We are now offering 25% off all purchases between now and Valentine's Day! Stop by to get chocolate. Thanks, Pete's Chocolates.
What to do: Customize everything. Tailor your offers to the exact specifications needed. Send out offers when the stars are aligned in ways that further align the stars by staying conscious of every message variable possible, from the time sent to the distribution channel, to the customer, right down to the very offer itself - and potentially hundreds of sub-variables beyond those.
- Phones and tablets
The phone-versus-tablet debate is probably what prevents most brands from going mobile. While 30%-60% of consumers use mobile devices to browse, email and download, many retailers are still stuck in the dark ages of mobile-free marketing.
What to do: Tackle this issue head-on by launching mobile-focused campaigns. And measure those campaigns from the very beginning so you can understand your progress - and how you can create a better customer pipeline for a stronger ROI.
- Forgetting to cross-sell
Cross-selling can increase your basket size and base revenue. But you can easily lose that opportunity by always going for the 'plain vanilla' sale. In a world where selling multiple products is a huge retail advantage, this lazy approach is your competitor's best friend, and one of your greatest enemies.
What to do: Simply put, sell more than one product. Better yet, use analytics to maximize your results by presenting the right opportunity for customers to get something they want or need in conjunction with a purchase they were prepared to make.