What’s the Difference Between Multi-Channel & Omnichannel Retail?

Posted on August 1, 2013 by Kevin LeiferComments

I’ll illustrate the difference between multi-channel retail and omnichannel retail with a simple story.

Imagine you arrive at work one morning, and without thinking you jump out of your car forgetting that your cell phone is in your lap—or, was in your lap. Now, it’s doing somersaults across a strip of pavement. Fearing the worst, you nervously reach for your phone only to discover that the device itself is unharmed—but the phone’s case is shot. So, you head to the electronics store on your break and find yourself staring at a giant wall of smartphone cases.

Each case is marketed as having its own unique perks—how do you know which one is right for you? This is where omnichannel retail differs from multi-channel retail.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Brand Experience

Newly Released STRONG Study Findings Continue to Produce Insight for Grocery Industry

Posted on July 30, 2013 by Kevin LeiferComments

The year-long STRONG Study, being conducted conjointly by ICC/Decision Services and the Progressive Grocer, focuses on key service areas for retailers across the country

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Topics: News

Evolving From Customer Service to Customer Experience

Posted on July 26, 2013 by David RichComments

In a 2005 issue of the Harvard Management Update, James Allen, Barney Hamilton and Frederick F. Reichheld published a staggering statistic:

Eighty percent of companies believe they deliver a superior customer experience, while only 8 percent of their customers agree.

The stat from that famous paper still turns heads—there’s often a difference between what you think about yourself and what your customers think about you, but a seventy-two percent difference?

The field of Customer Experience has quickly risen to the front of our awareness in the retail industry, likely due to stats like these: they represent a significant blind spot for retailers.

But, really, nothing that can’t be remedied through a little understanding.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Customer Satisfaction

New Ideas In Customer Experience – July 2013

Posted on July 23, 2013 by David RichComments

There’s no shortage of new ideas surrounding mystery shopping, customer intercept surveys, and customer satisfaction surveys as ways to improve Customer Experience in the 21st century. However, it can be difficult to distinguish the helpful thought leadership from the not so helpful thought leadership being shared online.

With that in mind, The Team here at ICC/Decision Services would like to present our regular blog readership with several resources we feel are advancing the field of Customer Experience in a new monthly ICC/Decision Services curated blog post called “New Ideas in Customer Experience.”

In our new monthly recap, we’ll be sharing original content from industry publications and other notable CX bloggers—and offering our opinion when relevant—in order to help our core audience better understand this fascinating field.

As always, please feel free to reach out to us via Twitter (@ICCDSLive) or contact us directly if you have any questions regarding any content we share—we’d welcome the opportunity to address any questions you have.

Best wishes,

The ICC/Decision Services Team

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Topics: Customer Experience

Close to Home, Global Reach: Finding the Right Mystery Shopping Company in New York City

Posted on July 18, 2013 by David RichComments

Saks Fifth Avenue, Aéropostale, Barnes & Noble, Tiffany & Co., Macy’s—browse any list of the world’s hottest retailers and you’ll see that many of them are headquartered in New York City.

That’s a huge point of pride for me as a New Yorker, but an even greater one for me as the CEO of a mystery shopping company in New York City. Some of the world’s best consumer shopping happens right here in NYC, and that fact provides me and my company with more than a few opportunities to work alongside the elite brands that serve as the standard in customer experience for retailers everywhere.

But even though New York is home to the consumer brand elite—brands you’d expect to feel plenty comfortable on long distance conference calls and video meetings—we continue to find that when tasked with working with providers like us, companies headquartered in New York prefer to work with mystery shopping companies in New York City. Because for all of the advanced communications technology available to us as business professionals, there’s still nothing quite like sitting across the table from an actual person, is there?

But as an elite brand, it’s important to have the support of an elite brand. When searching for a mystery shopping company in NYC or a New York-based customer experience evaluator, it’s critical to look for a provider who understands CX at the highest possible level and is familiar with companies of your caliber.

With that in mind, following are three important tips for finding the right mystery shopping company in New York City.

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Topics: Mystery Shopping, Customer Experience

How to Use Mystery Shopping for Competitor Research

Posted on July 16, 2013 by David RichComments

Imagine this:

You’re a retailer. You’ve done well for the past decade. After being the sole provider of the service you offer in your area, a competitor sets up shop a few miles from you.

At first, you keep a cool attitude about the future of your business—after all, you’ve had extremely satisfied customers for years now. What could this competitor possibly do to disrupt such customer loyalty?

Several months after the competitive opening, earnings begin to slide. It appears you’re losing business to the new retailer.

Not knowing why the other guy is doing so well can be extremely frustrating. But there’s a creative way around this problem: mystery shopping companies can provide competitor research data directly from the floor of a bricks-and-mortar competitor, the way a customer experiences them.

Conducting competitor research is certainly nothing new to the business world, but the means by which a retailer can receive actionable competitor data are now much broader given how connected we all are.

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Topics: Mystery Shopping, Customer Experience

Create an Omnichannel Retail Strategy for Greater Brand Loyalty

Posted on July 11, 2013 by David RichComments

There’s no doubt the retail landscape has changed drastically since the introduction of eCommerce to the business world.

Although online shopping continues to grow nationwide, companies are beginning to take a fresh look at what makes the in-store experience valuable to shoppers given the assumed ease and convenience online outlets have to offer.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in-store purchases still make up the majority of sales transactions going on day-to-day. When we zoom in to see how eCommerce is affecting certain kinds of products, categories like books, clothing, and electronics are seeing some of the highest percentages of online sales, yet companies like Barnes and Noble continue to maintain a strong in-store component to their retail strategy.

With a study by the NPD Group finding 48% of book and stationary sales now taking place through online outlets (and growing), the future for bookstores may seem shaky. With people turning to the convenience of eBooks, why do people bother making the effort to meander the bookshelves inside physical stores anymore?

The answer is simple: innovation doesn’t mean completely converting your retail presence to the Internet—in-store customer experience remains the strongest component of consistent retail activity.

Shopping online for books is perhaps one of the least exciting ways to immerse yourself in the experience of discovering new things to read. Barnes and Noble realized this and consequently made their stores into exactly what people can’t get online: a place to sit down, drink a coffee, and thumb through some potential purchases in a social environment. As a result, they’re able to provide customers with a place to come back to time and time again to find what they’re looking for rather than battle with a multitude of online outlets engaging consumers in constant flux––chaotically shifting from company to company in a quest for the lowest price.

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Topics: Mystery Shopping, Customer Experience, Brand Experience, Retail, Customer Service

How Mystery Shopping Can Dispel the 4 Myths of Showrooming

Posted on July 9, 2013 by David RichComments

It was simpler before wasn’t it? Retailers wanted to make a profit and consumers wanted to make their dollar go further.

Recognizing this, the retailers set their prices fairly, and if the consumers agreed with the retailers, they made a purchase. And the entire process was wrapped in a great customer experience that included engaging personalized service.

But as we all know, mobile technology and ecommerce have thrown a kink into this once simpler process. Showrooming has become a very real concern for bricks-and-mortar retailers in recent years:

  • 46% of consumers use their smartphones to check prices and reviews while shopping at retail stores. (Source: Yankee Group, 2012)
  • While in a retail store, U.S. smartphone shoppers are most likely to look up facts and figures (15%), compare prices (11%), read reviews (9%), and compare the retailer’s prices to its web prices (8%). (Source: LJS Strategic Research, 2012)
  • 71% of U.S. smartphone shoppers compare prices in electronic stores (Source: Nielsen, 2012)

When we read statistics like these and consider the revenue we’re potentially losing, it’s easy to feel like we as retailers are at a standstill—a standstill that may eventually tip against us.

But that’s not true.

Though it may seem like bricks-and-mortar retailers are on the short end of innovation, there’s been emerging research lately suggesting that showrooming, though a potential threat, may still be largely misunderstood. In other words, we may be buying into more than a few myths.

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Topics: Mystery Shopping, Customer Experience, Customer Satisfaction, Customer Intercepts, Showrooming

Improve the Customer Experience to Make Showrooming Work for You

Posted on June 28, 2013 by David RichComments

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

A customer walks into a bricks-and-mortar store. She casually strolls the aisles, thumbing through racks of colorful knits and summer skirts. She pulls one down and holds it over her torso, admiring herself in a store mirror. She likes what she sees. You like what she sees: this is the moment a customer decides that this summer skirt is the perfect summer skirt, and she’s not leaving the store without her summer skirt.

Then, it happens.

The customer removes her smartphone from her pocket and swipes through a blur of icons before launching the app she’s looking for—the price check app.

She aims the phone at the price tag’s bar code. A moment later, the phone disappears, and so does the desiring look on the customer’s face you saw as she gazed at her reflection only seconds before.

The customer has left the store. The summer dress has not left the store. And you’re left wondering how a surefire sale dissolved so quickly before your eyes.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Brand Experience, Showrooming

Seek Actionable Mystery Shopping Survey Data to Achieve Better Results

Posted on June 26, 2013 by David RichComments

When we talk about customer experience, it can be easy to get bogged down in semantics. If we started with the abstract idea of customer experience, then parsed out each piece of its meanings separately, we’d quickly realize that customer experience can’t be improved with a single prescription. Each of its many components requires separate criteria from which we can evaluate quality based on all aspects of an in-store experience.

A current critique of the mystery shopping industry is a lack of effective data having to do with aspects of a store environment that can actually be improved at a local level. In other words, when we think of what makes survey results “effective,” we’re talking about what is actionable. Before considering the specifics of what will make data from shoppers’ surveys actionable, first we must define the goal that the program is aiming to achieve.

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Topics: Mystery Shopping, Customer Experience, Brand Experience

Customer Experience Update