Hey Brands, ‘News Flash’ the Online and In-Store Shopper Are Not Two Different Species

Sephora have merged their digital and physical retail teams into one department. They describe the initiative as a ‘sign of the times’, and a result of taking a step back and aligning with how today’s customer shops.  In her redefined role as EVP of Omni Retail, Sephora’s Mary Beth Laughton explained, “We should be fine with wherever the customer wants to shop, and our existing organisation didn’t reflect that mindset.”

Excellent Sephora, you actually get it. Online and in-store shoppers are not two different species. But not all brands are moving this fast.

In February I bought a pair of $200 shoes from a well-known Australian shoe store. In March, the shoes started falling apart.  Disappointed, as I absolutely loved the shoe, I jumped online to see the best way to contact them.

Feedback could be directed to them via an email address, so I attached a couple of photos to a message and hit send. I got an empathetic response from a Customer Service Consultant, agreeing that this was a terrible situation and they hoped to help me out.  However, they couldn’t find my name on their online sales database, so wondered where I purchased the shoes from.

Grateful for the understanding, and hopeful that I would have the shoes replaced, I responded, ‘I bought them from your store.’ And that is where the empathy ended.

I received an email stating, ‘We are the online team, unfortunately we do not have the same systems to our stores therefore we do not have any access to in store purchases. We kindly ask you to take the shoes back to the store, with your proof of purchase so they can assist you.’

In the minds of this brand, I am a bricks and mortar customer – so I must only do bricks and mortar things!

Here’s the issue; I bought the shoes while travelling interstate, so I’m not likely to be near the store anytime soon. I don’t want to deal with this offline – I want this issue easily resolved online.  They are geared up to sell online, but not geared up for all the other elements that make up a typical customer experience.

This CX has led me to throw the shoes in the bin, earmark the process of having the faulty shoes replaced as ‘too hard’ and talk negatively about the brand to anyone that will listen.

Before Sephora merged its two departments, online and in-store acted like competitors, each creating its own promotions and reporting sales separately. Sephora had the vision that if the two departments were thinking together about how to boost sales overall, rather than working against each other, they would be a lot healthier.

A superior CX also boosts the bottom line. My shoe retailer needs to think about this. Tracking the CX journey can be an eye-opening experience for brands and is absolutely imperative to gain a competitive edge in the market place today.  By unearthing the CX journey, brands have visibility on where their processes work together, and when they work against each other.  The journey highlights the elements that enhance the CX and those that detract. A CX journey map is the blueprint brands use when they are serious about understanding life with their brand as their customers see it.

Right now, mapping the CX journey is an area that we are helping our clients out with more than ever.  Getting the CX journey out of the minds of siloed departments and onto one page is a valuable way for brands to really appreciate what it is like to be their own customer and understand the tensions and pain points that detract from the overall experience and – dare I say it, ‘walk a mile in their customers shoes’.

Written by Megan.

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