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Why Poor Digital Experiences Drag Retail Customer Service Down

Creating an in-store environment that wows customers is not a sprint, but a marathon. It takes time, effort and persistence to ensure that when a customer walks through the door they feel valued, inspired and, crucially, happy to part with their hard-earned money. 

Perhaps you have invested significant funds into quality staff training? Or dedicated hours to training each staff member personally on the experiential values of your business?  

All jewellery retailers agree that repeat custom is reliant upon quality customer service and reputation. However, many retailers forget these same principles apply to their websites and digital platforms. The value of a fantastic in-store experience can be swiftly lost with poor quality design, lacklustre images and complicated navigation online. Just as a talented sales associate would guide a customer round a store, a website needs to do the same. 

Today, in-store customer experience and digital customer experience should be treated with the same attention. Each dictates and informs the other. For example, a customer looking for a diamond bracelet may conduct an internet search, stumble upon your website, but find it is out-of-date, poorly maintained and lacking easily-accessible contact details. What is the likeliness of this customer seeking out your store for a visit? Equally, a customer who is met by an unhelpful sales associate is unlikely to make additional purchases online; choosing instead to spend their money elsewhere.

Now is the time to invest in the digital customer experience, which can be drilled down into four broad areas; Navigation, Design, Optimisation, Fulfilment. The first area, navigation, mimics the sales associate’s ability to ask questions and lead customers to what they’re looking for. A website should be quick to load and simple to search. You wouldn’t hide your best products in-store, so why bury them on a complicated website? Research suggests that customers are only willing to click three times to find what they’re looking for, before moving on. A simple menu and easy access to key product lines in essential. 

Design is also crucial for showcasing your brand. Pixelated images, old-fashioned formatting and poorly chosen fonts won’t offer a positive digital experience. Instead, they will detract from your products, creating the impression that your goods are similar in quality to that of your website. The two are like mirrors that reflect each other. Design much also account for the casual browser and the determined shopper — sometimes nicknamed ‘webrooming’ and ‘showrooming’. Perhaps some customers are simply researching their next purchase and gathering information. Or perhaps they have no idea what they’re looking for and are simply clicking on whatever catches their eye. Fantastic design can support all of these customer journeys. 

For a website to excel in 2017 it needs to be optimised to work across computers, tablets and mobile devices. This optimisation is essential to engage customers, especially millennial and Gen-Z shoppers who rely on their mobile devices more than ever. 

Finally, fulfilment is the final rung in the digital customer experience ladder. If a customer has an enquiry in-store, they can simply ask the nearest sales associate. Online, who can they turn to? Are your contact details clearly accessible, or do you rely on an impersonal online form? Do you have an online chat or assistance tool that can give customers real-time advice? Many of these services can be connected to a mobile phone, so you receive a message whenever a client asks a question and can quickly reply by text message. Fulfilment also covers click-and-collect, delivery and returns – areas of e-commerce that could easily warrant their own books! 

This simplified overview only hints at the steps towards developing a fantastic digital customer experience. Crucially, each stage needs to stay true to the values of your brand and reflect what makes you unique, while hitting the minimum basic requirements of web proficiency. Contemporary consumers are researching, browsing and shopping online and in-store – a blend which ensures one cannot be so easily excised from the other. As a result, customer service needs to be consistent across both mediums. 

With first impressions and reputation paramount in the jewellery industry, businesses simply cannot afford to fall at the first hurdle.

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