The Customer Experience

Over the last ten years the so called ‘Fortune 1000’ companies – the largest most successful corporations in Australia – have been embarking upon automating their ‘systems’ to deal with customer enquiry. What this actually means, in real terms, is a reduction in face to face opportunities for their customers. Either through a digital telecommunication pathway, or through website portals you are now directed to a specified area to have your enquiry responded to.

The systems have been developed by IT personnel, and to a large extent are highly inflexible. Banks utilise overseas call centres to chase their slow payers. Want to borrow some money? Go to the website, click through to the right page and provide all of your details. You’ll be emailed with the result.

Some systems are so tight (for example Australia Post) that it is difficult to actually contact a person. You’re only option is to fill out an enquiry form. In a test case it was determined that person to person contact in this instance was virtually impossible.

Where is this going? The major companies have realised that the ‘customer interface experience’ is very unappealing. ‘Chief Information Officers’ have set these processes in place according to IT protocols. The Board’s at these companies now realise this needs some serious modification.

I was recently invited to speak with a group of about 35 CMOs (Chief Marketing Officers) for companies such as the ANZ, Australia Post, David Jones, Woolworths and many others of similar ilk. The seminar was talking about the ‘Customer Experience’. Larger corporations now realise that the current customers experience is entirely negative. The seminar looks to explore online communication, Social Media SEO and Call centre and Web interfaces. The marketing supremo’s are looking to now develop customer strategies that ‘embrace’ their clients online.

Garden centres and nurseries need to consider the same connectivity. How can a garden centre embrace this new digital age? How can it increase its profits in doing so? It’s now more important than ever that retailers look to engage their customer base effectively online through Social Media, through websites and through e-commerce sites.

Consider your online presence. Are you easy to deal with? Easy to find? Easy to purchase from? Easy to seek advice from? Or do you have to be Physics major to buy a 140mm pot of colour?

Marketing is about communication. E-commerce sites like Storeberry, Storenvy and Etsy provide real access to real paying customers. It can be inexpensive and most effective. In real terms, the Garden Centre has always offered a genuine ‘customer experience’; make sure you transfer that same information and receptivity to your online ‘persona’. Create a buying sequence that provides real customer satisfaction. Create a real ‘business persona’. The next generation of online business is about to commence. Make sure your business is part of it.

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