Customers prioritize the customer experience over every other key differentiator—including price or product. 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience. And 86% of consumers expect local businesses to offer more convenient communication and services now than they did prior to COVID-19.

In short, customer expectations are soaring to new heights. And with a few simple automations, you can meet (and even exceed) your customers’ expectations for convenience. Consider automating the following interactions to improve the customer experience of your brick-and-mortar retail shop(s): 

1. Appointment Scheduling

New restrictions on how many shoppers can be in the store at a time, limited hours, and other social distancing practices have likely interrupted your usual flow of business.  Bring things up to speed with appointment scheduling via text message. 

Enable customers to text with you with click-to-message features from your Google My Business listing and explain any new regulations customers should be aware of. Whether customers are booking appointments, in-person demos, or even virtual consultations with your business, you can communicate with ease and efficiency via text message. 

2. Webchat FAQs

One of the leading frustrations for modern customers is not having access to answers for simple questions. 1 in 3 customers report this frustration stemming from business’ poor website design, lack of responsiveness, and inability to provide answers 24/7.

Alleviate this pain point for customers by including a chat feature on your website. You can automate answers to FAQs and facilitate positive, personalized interactions with each conversation. In addition to answering FAQs, webchat can be used to resolve customer service issues (forgoing the dreaded call tree/waiting on hold issue) and complete transactions on the go. 

3. Curbside Messaging

Even if your business feels on top of pandemic-friendly services, like curbside pickups, the customer experience can always improve with reduced friction and uncertainty. Don’t make customers wait or call your business when they arrive for a curbside pickup; phone calls are the #1 source of customer dissatisfaction. Reward the effort customers have already made to purchase and travel to your store. Make the pickup as easy as possible and let customers know they can text you when they arrive. The conversation could look something like this:

-I’m here for my curbside pickup.

-Great! Can I get your name? 

-Yes, it’s Sarah.

-Thanks, Sarah! And what vehicle are you in today?

-It’s a dark gray Honda Accord. 

Perfect. We’ll be right out!

4. Review Asks

Reviews are paramount to building your reputation and acquiring new customers. 97% of consumers read online reviews before purchasing locally. Optimize your local listing and build trust with customers by sending a post-purchase text inviting customers to review your business. Keep in mind that 76% of customers go on to write a review when they’re asked. 

Emails get filtered and phone calls are ignored, but texts are opened and responded to 98% of the time. Start generating reviews for each of your store locations with an automated post-purchase review request via text. 

5. Feedback

There is a frequent gap between customer expectations and business delivery. And the way to bridge this gap is to ask for and apply customer feedback. The process is simple: send texts to customers post-purchase and ask how things went. Find out what is working and see what suggestions customers have to improve the experience. 

When these conversations take place via text message, customers are more likely to respond and you can implement their feedback sooner rather than later.  

6. Mobile Payments

Nearly 80% of customers prefer mobile, contactless payment methods. And for good reason—they speed up checkout, they’re secure, sanitary, and convenient. Send a text and collect payments within minutes rather than waiting in lines, sending bills in the mail, or spreading germs with cards or cash. Mobile payments give time back to store associates and increase customer satisfaction, making mobile payments customer preferred and business approved. 

7. Sales/Promos

Customers are getting harder to reach with traditional advertising. Four out of five Americans ignore online ads. What customers prefer is personalized interactions with brands they trust, on the channels that they love—texting. Give customers the option to be notified of special deals and events via text. These types of interactions feel less like ads and more like a personal relationship with your brand. Just have customers opt-in, and find the right frequency for this type of communication.  

Every customer interaction matters for your brand. Discover how you can manage and improve each interaction and step of the customer journey with a Podium demo. Connect with customers through their preferred channels, improve relationships (and revenue!), and increase your operational efficiency—all from one central platform. 

Jason A’alona
Jason A’alona Director of Retail Sales

Jason A’alona is a retail professional at Podium, the leading messaging platform that connects consumer businesses with their customers.

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