The global pandemic fast-tracked retail’s customer experience transformation and the need for personalized engagement at scale. Here we explore how to improve customer engagement in retail’s “never normal” environment.
Customer engagement lockdown lessons
Personalization matters to shoppers
The long-term effects of the global pandemic remain to be seen. But the mass adoption of digital channels is likely here to stay. And along with it, the need to personalize customer engagement across a growing array of touchpoints.
Initial COVID-19 lockdowns made it abundantly clear how much shoppers value personalization, as retailers rapidly iterated virtual shopping experiences and curated product recommendations.
Brands pivoted towards more empathetic communications that acknowledged the strange environment customers found themselves in, as their lives shifted online.
One trend that stood out was that the pandemic was no time to halt customer engagement, with a Marketing Week survey revealing that 41% of UK shoppers engage weekly with a brand or retailer’s mobile app, while 42% engage via a retailer’s website, and 28% via a brand’s website.
Relevance, personalization, and value of content clearly matter to shoppers. This has only been heightened during the pandemic, when many brands have excelled with the level of personalization and relevancy of their content.
Mobile and chat apps key to omnichannel strategies
Messaging apps, with SMS and email as failover options, enabled richer customer engagement during a turbulent 12 months.
Many messaging apps offered design “carousels,” which are prebuilt smartphone layouts for displaying retail products. Most importantly, some messaging apps enabled customers to purchase goods from menus and make secure digital payments, as well.
SMS has been the staple, lightweight communications tool for quickly connecting to customers. The value of SMS (relative to voicemail and email) has been a combination of high open rate, quick responses, and ease of use across smartphones. However, such information tends to be basic, usually constricted to one-way notiﬁcations consisting of texts and URL links.
But when used alongside chat apps, retailers can engage customers using the likes of emojis, pictures, videos QR codes, and menus.
The top must-have chat apps and channels to help boost customer engagement during the pandemic included:
- WhatsApp: This is the most widely deployed messaging app across the globe. In many markets such as India, Brazil, Mexico, the UK, and Italy, up to 95% of smartphone users install WhatsApp.
- Apple Business Chat: This app allows rich, private conversations between customers and businesses via the native Messages app. Many brands indicate that the majority of their best customers have Apple devices, and overall usage of Apple Business Chat increased in 2020 as more customers used virtual means to communicate.
- RCS Business Messaging: If you’re looking to reach android smartphone users, the value of RCS is that users do not have to download a client, allowing you to reach roughly 70% of the global market share.
- WeChat: This messaging app is largely conﬁned to users with a Chinese afﬁliation, and supports payments linked to Chinese banks. WeChat is viewed as the global leader of conversational commerce messaging apps for retail relative to functionality.
Customer engagement strategies post-lockdown
Addressing your customers’ needs is key to customer engagement strategies in our “new” or “never” normal”:
- Be empathetic and supportive: showcase your brand’s values by caring for your customers.
- Be where your customers are: adopt an omnichannel engagement strategy, and expand home delivery options and contactless options.
- Be mobile first: migrate customers to digital channels to stay safe and on trend.
- Be agile: react to customer sentiment and proactively engage.
Here are some tactical steps you can take using customer data:
Segment based on lockdown behavior
Your customers’ shopping habits have changed. It’s time to revisit your customer data and identify those segments.
Personalize your communication
Once segmented, personalize your messaging as per changed shopping habits. For each channel and segment identified, know the best channel and furthermore best time to send your messaging campaign.
React and adapt with insights
Set campaign goals and analyze customer behavior and sentiment to ensure empowered marketing communications. Understanding the brand journey and buying process for each customer will help you support them with the appropriate messaging.
Improving customer engagement in retail’s new normal
So, while in-person communication has reduced, to navigate the new normal retail brands need to empower themselves to humanize their digital interactions.
While it may seem like a lot to do – segmentation, personalization and omnichannel automation – marketers can easily navigate through the retail landscape with an omnichannel powered customer engagement hub such as Moments. Empowering and enabling you to create digital connections at the right moment, with the right message on the right channel.
Boost your omnichannel customer engagement campaigns