shopping online

With 60 percent of outperforming companies reporting that they need to “stand for something bigger than the products they sell and that they expect to always seek the best outcomes for their consumers,” in a new research report by Accenture, the company said that businesses are “getting the best by being customer-obsessed.”

While investing in the customer journey is not new, heightened technology investments — which skyrocketed in the last year — have given a new meaning to the process with companies able to reference real-time data to inform quick, confident decision making as consumer behaviors evolved rapidly.

“It’s broader than just the last several months with COVID-19, but I think it COVID-19 certainly underscores why this is so important,” said Eric Shea, managing director of Accenture Strategy’s Retail Industry Sector. “We saw all consumer behaviors and habits changing almost overnight and the experiences that they’re expecting from our retailers and brands resulted in a huge increase in digital revenue and digital channel use [that] pushed retailers and brands to enable new omnichannel experiences. It has put a huge requirement on retailers to have more data to understand what’s happening in their businesses and to learn from those changing behaviors.”

Though still, according to Shea, while companies have more data building the customer experience is bigger than technology but also having the right process, and people, to use it. Moreover, it has become important for companies to understand the customer as a more diverse group.

“Data was, of course, important before but because of the rapid changes it’s more important to be to see that at a micro level,” Shea said. “Gone are the days where we can just say, ‘Let’s do what we did last year plus 20 percent,’ because these consumer behaviors are changing so quickly and I think even the way we think about that customer, thinking about it as one persona, for some retailers doesn’t work anymore, because we are serving a very diverse group of customers, and they all have different needs, that they’re looking for us to fulfill.”

Put simply, said Shea, Accenture’s Business of Experience says companies need to get away from thinking about the transaction in the basket and put its purpose and the experience to improve customer’s lives at the forefront.

“There are ways to actually grow value within our retail organizations by focusing on experience and elevating the value that the customer places on your business, and potentially what they’re even willing to pay because they have a great experience and I think experiences,” Shea said. “It’s a bit overly broad in some cases because a great experience for one customer can be very different than what a great experience means for another.”

Moreover, the authors of Accenture’s report said, “a true experience innovation culture asks you to close the gap between your brand promise and the experiences you deliver by changing not just what you say, but how you behave across your organization.” According to the company’s data 53 percent of leading companies say that consumers expect them to continuously innovate with ore relevant products, services and experiences that adapt to needs and set new standards, compared to just 31 percent of companies.

“It’s not one solution,” Shea said. “It’s understanding your consumer and asking what those micro-segments and macro-segments are and what do they actually need and what does a great experience means to them. And then from there, what value can we drive and what would need to be true or what capabilities will we need to better serve that customer and have a better experience. And going back to the data points, it’s making sure that you’re collecting the right data points around your customer, your existing customer engagement, and creating the insights to understand what they’re what they need at a granular level is really the first step. Know your purpose and know your customer and how they fit within that.”

For More WWD Business News: 

Retail Executives Optimistic Over Year-end Recovery

Lacoste Sees Extended Value of Partnership in Technology

Eyeing the World: How Citizens of Humanity Leverages Cross-Border E-comm to Boost Global Sales