3 Customer Experience Facts Retailers Need to Know in 2022

Customer reviews on mobile device

Every time someone interacts with a brand, it’s an opportunity to build trust, deliver value, and ultimately, drive growth. But as customer expectations for seamless ecommerce experiences increase, it can be difficult and expensive to scale the quality and quantity of interactions to meet demand — especially in a shrinking labor market. Often, it can feel like you’re trying to hit a moving target.

In the quest to deliver more valuable brand interactions, data insights gleaned from customers’ past history with your brand are essential. Ada analyzed more than 21 million ecommerce interactions between October 16 and December 15, 2021 — peak Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) shopping season — and uncovered key insights that brands will need if they want to transform their customer experience in 2022.

Along with three important retail and ecommerce trends, there’s one broader lesson at bay: your customers are looking for better brand experiences that align with their own expectations and needs. 

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You need to deliver on your brand’s promise as expressed through ads, sales conversations, website and social media channels, and more. And to do this well, retail and ecommerce brands need an automation strategy that prioritizes every single interaction they have with their customers.

Customers Want to Talk to You — More Than Ever

The world has undergone a digital transformation in the past few years, and customers have adjusted to this new landscape; it’s time for brands to fully catch up. With more commerce moving to the digital space, customers are looking to interact with brands on a personal level now more than ever.

In 2020, brand interactions during the BFCM season skyrocketed 345% over 2019. In 2021, those numbers continued to rise by 16%. While 2020 may have been an outlier, the rise in digital interactions isn’t going anywhere, and brands need to take action now to meet these evolving customer expectations. 

Nothing hurts a brand more than when a customer feels like their concerns aren’t being heard. Approaching all brand interactions with an all-hands-on-deck mentality, leveraging conversational AI and every team member that has a hand in the customer journey — and then measuring and optimizing all interactions along the way — ensures responsive, meaningful interactions that build loyalty over time.

Most Self-Service Interactions Better Suited for Conversational AI

The truth is, most retail and ecommerce customer interactions are basic.

In 2021, WISMO (where is my order?) accounted for 36% of interactions, up from 31% in 2020. Most interactions of this nature — including issues with the order, tracking number requests, and order changes — can be handled through self-service and personalized, conversational AI. 

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Leveraging this technology allows customers to quickly and effortlessly answer their own question, which not only equates to a better brand experience, but also frees representatives up to focus on more involved customer inquiries.

AI and self-service can also be applied to helping customers guide their digital shopping experiences in the pre- and post-sale stages of the customer journey.

For Ada clients, 13% of interactions were related to getting more product and payment information. Conversational AI works to offer customers product information without requiring them to navigate the entire website, and builds in opportunities for upsell and cross-sell suggestions, all without the need for hands-on agent interaction.

In the post-sale process, retailers can streamline account inquiries (which make up 14% of interactions), returns and cancellations (11%) and loyalty and promotion questions (4%). 

The use of conversational AI gives customers the immediate answers they need in just a few clicks, without needing to wait for an agent.

Mobile Shopping Is Here to Stay

It would stand to reason that during the pandemic, with more customers working from home, web browsing would have migrated to the desktop. But we found that mobile shopping isn’t going anywhere. During the 2021 BFCM shopping season, 68% of brand interactions came through mobile, a 2% increase over 2019 numbers.

What this means is that every customer touchpoint needs to be optimized for the mobile shopper, ensuring that the customer experience is responsive, and integrating conversational AI into mobile apps and social channels as well as websites.

By understanding how customers are interacting with your brand across all channels on all devices, it becomes clear how self-service through conversational AI can ensure a VIP experience for all customers at scale. When customers feel heard, and have their issues addressed personally and rapidly, it builds trust and loyalty over time.

— Jen Kline Shernoff, SVP Product & Design at Ada

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