Black Friday isn’t really Black Friday anymore. Sure, you could argue that happened when it got in a relationship with Thanksgiving evening. But 2020 traded that 2-day fling for a longer-term one—namely the months of November and December. So it’s official, Black Friday is now a season replete with more competitive and prolonged offers.
It’s no surprise though given the number of parameters this year has been able to place on the historically door-busting holiday: decreased in-person interactions, increased online traffic of e-commerce sites, and complete shifts in consumer behavior. This Black Friday Season is uniquely positioned to crystallize the trends we’ve already been seeing throughout the year and set the stage for every future Black Friday Season.
With that in mind, what’s to be said of how brands and retailers will meet evolving customer expectations and market demands? Here’s a hint...anticipate the expectations through holistic customer experience. But how?
First, where have we been this year?
With the shift in consumer behavior 2020 has created, e-commerce will continue to play catchup in meeting evolving consumer expectations. Customer Experience Management is and will continue to be a central figure in bridging those expectations and how big retailers can deliver.
Let’s take a look at the data from earlier this year. The pandemic had such an effect on our shopping behaviors that 78% of people changed the way they shopped in one way or another. 28% of people responded they began shopping more online. 10% responded they shopped at different types of stores, most likely, those who are accommodating online orders and curbside pickup.
It’s little wonder why US Holiday Sales are projected to jump higher than previous years, especially for e-commerce.
These numbers were not expected for another 2 years. “If online holiday sales had accelerated at a more typical seasonal growth rate—a median 15.2% over the last five years—revenue wouldn’t have reached 2020-projected levels until 2022,” reports Digital Commerce 360.
That’s 2 years of adaptation and innovation expedited and consolidated into a period of months. Expect great deals, better than normal. Expect deals to be promoted longer than years past. Even expect welcomed modified shopping experiences, like curb-side pickup, personal shoppers, and lottery systems. Just don’t expect perfect customer experiences, at least not this year.
Sam Silverstein of Grocery Dive summed up the early pandemic’s effect on the nebulous future and digital transformation of e-commerce.
“Companies have scrambled to add fulfillment capacity over the past several weeks as shoppers have migrated en masse to the perceived safety of online [shopping]. As retailers emerge from this survival mode and survey the landscape, they face the challenge of not just improving online fulfillment, but also achieving profitability on a faster timeline than most imagined. Three-year strategies have now become three-month strategies.”
Where are we heading?
Step one is to invest in Customer Experience if you haven’t. Step two is upgrading your Customer Experience to not only react but to anticipate.
Studies show that those who are leading and investing in digitizing their customer experiences across online and social channels see returns on average 3x higher than those who are not.
Granted we might not technically be in a recession now, however, we were earlier this year. The principle still applies and it’s wise to focus on building and bolstering your customer experience program during a recovery economy.
An effective customer experience program should focus on 4 keys factors when considering a holistic customer experience solution:
When providing advice for Black Friday Customer Service Reps John Tschohl of CustomerServiceManager.com shared, “Think speed...Every single person out shopping on Black Friday wants to get the job done as soon and as fast as they can.” In-person customer service is no different than customer service over digital channels. Think speed. In order to intercept concerns relevant to your brand, you need real-time data. Nuvi provides social data at ~500 mentions per second. You can’t get more real-time than that.
What good is real-time data if you can’t rely on it? Accurate data is the keystone to forming effective customer experience strategies. Nuvi invests in building and maintaining its proprietary natural language processor, The Nuvi Language Engine. In fact, Nuvi was awarded the honor of Martech’s 2020 Breakthrough Award for Best Social Media Analytics Platform because of our commitment to provide industry-leading accuracy and speed in our data.
Great data needs vehicles to actually make a change in your organization. You need tools that harness the power of real-time social data in versatile ways. For example, Nuvi Engage takes the power of advanced social listening and translates it into custom queue creation based on specific criteria you set relevant to your brand. Once those filters auto-tag social mentions, they get routed to individuals or teams ready to address concerns.
When speedy resolution is the goal, the key is moving from reacting to anticipating. Bridgestone did this using our platform. They were able to set up advanced monitoring to seek opportunities for product placement. For example, they were able to accurately identify mentions about “flat tires” to then intercept over social channels and offer discounts on a new set of tires. This resulted in $14 Million in new social bookings.
In order for enterprises to implement or upgrade a more holistic customer experience platform like Nuvi into an existing tech ecosystem, data integration will be crucial. Nuvi saw this and conveniently built friendly APIs through Nuvi Hub that can integrate to BI and marketing analytics tools. This allows organizations to see the insights and value of social data in context of other data sets.
The pandemic expedited a transformation that businesses saw evolving for years—digitization and adaptation over all online and social channels.
Earlier this year, new consumer behaviors emerged and 2020’s Black Friday Season is poised to crystalize them for the future. In order to remain relevant and evolve with consumer behavior, investment in holistic customer experience will be essential. The shift in customer experience will continue to accommodate reacting to customers, while placing emphasis on anticipating problems before they arise. After all, loyalty doesn't begin once you’re in a relationship with a customer, it begins forming even before initial contact.