With pervasive mobile devices and always-on connectivity, today's customers dance effortlessly between the digital and physical worlds. However, retailers and brands are not having such an easy time.
With the exception of billion-dollar juggernauts like Amazon and Apple, e-commerce retailers are challenged by the widening gap in customer experience between the digital shopping experience and the physical product delivery. That gap is the New Moment of Truth, a critical touchpoint that can make or break customers' loyalty.
The step of the customer journey between the purchase and the delivery of a product is incredibly valuable. Customers are strongly engaged with anticipation and excitement, so this is an opportunity for brands to harness rosy expectations and heightened attention to set up their products for success.
Unfortunately, the step is also fraught with pitfalls: supply-chain inefficiencies, inclement weather, missed packages, and more. Those pitfalls can severely damage a customer's impression of a brand even before the product has a chance to shine.
A Missed Opportunity
Few retailers have found the right ways to bolster their customers' enthusiasm and to soften the effect of delivery issues instead of pass the buck to a bevy of carriers. The rationale is that the retailer loses control of the package once it leaves the loading dock. But the result is a customer's concerns bouncing back and forth between carrier and retailer when a problem arises. Ultimately, the retailer must take responsibility or lose the customer forever, but too often, by then, the customer's brand experience has already been irreparably damaged.
Instead of playing damage control, smart retailers can proactively "mind the post-purchase gap" and take ownership of the New Moment of Truth. A branded post-purchase experience allows savvy retailers to make the most of customers' excitement by providing inspirational content or recommending relevant products and services.
For example, an educational video teaching new users how best to use a product can prevent a support call or a disappointing experience later on.
Similarly, a proactive experience lets retailers and customers adjust expectations and identify solutions for minor problems while they're still minor. Detailed, natural-language package tracking and opt-in alerts remove worry and uncertainty from shipping and delivery. Context-sensitive FAQs ensure customers find the exact help they see without having to pick up the phone.
Connecting the Dots
The key to unlocking the New Moment of Truth is continuity. Connected customers already enjoy effortless access to communications, documents, and media at home and on the go, and they've moved beyond the concept of "channels."
Connected customers want effortless experiences and demand continuity and consistency whether they interact with brands in stores, online, on the phone, or at a kiosk. Having to repeat themselves when switching channels is a severe source of dissatisfaction. Customers experiencing repetitive contacts and robotic service are nearly 4X less likely to return, according to a CEB analysis.
When designing continuous experiences, companies must realize that today's connected customers have equal access to all forms of digital communication.
Customers overwhelmingly prioritize effortlessness over choice, according to CEB research. Retailers can safely identify and focus on channels that best serve their customers rather than offer many choices.
In other words, a retailer's resources are better spent creating one deep pipeline that spans a couple selective channels. The truly successful experience stretches continuously from the Zero Moment of Truth to the New Moment of Truth and beyond.
None of that requires an expensive investment in physical infrastructure; it may even be a net reduction in complexity compared to traditional service models. What it requires is a deep understanding of customers' journeys and a new generation of powerful-yet-accessible tools.
A New Generation of Tools
Modern software solutions integrate seamlessly with social media, email, and e-commerce frameworks, giving team members unparalleled visibility into customer history. However, continuing the effortless experience across the New Moment of Truth is a new challenge, met by a new generation of tools. These tools extend the same seamless visibility beyond the digital world and into the real world, allowing retailers to continue effortless and proactive service in traditional pain points like shipping, tracking, and returns—situations previously beyond their control.
Retailers can finally avoid the deadliest disruption in service: passing a customer off to an uninformed third party.
A great post-purchase experience is not just a pretty face for a brand. It connects customers' digital experience to their physical one without losing mindshare, sentiment, and most importantly, information. Bridging the New Moment of Truth ensures continued success in a rapidly changing world.