JOHANNESBURG – When Black Friday goes right for a retailer, it can go sensationally right … and when it doesn’t, well the aftereffect can be rather unpleasant.
Nathalie Schooling, the chief executive of customer experience specialists at Nlighten, says the brands that achieve the most success on Black Friday, are not just focused on deals, profits and ‘quick-wins’ like so many businesses, but they go out of their way to consider the customer experience (CX).
They know how to turn this “once-off” marketing bandwagon into an ongoing customer relationship.
“Black Friday is a chance for consumers to trial new brands, products and find new ways to shop. The brands that understand this, have a far greater chance of keeping current customers happy, whilst winning over new ones.
“At a time when the competition is tough and the economy is sinking, what business can’t afford to seize the long-term growth opportunity that Black Friday can offer,” said Schooling.
The future will belong to those retailers whose strategy is directed by customer centricity, according to the Online Retail in South Africa 2019 report by World Wide Worx with the support of Visa and Platinum Seed.
The report states that who learned from other’s mistakes, who transformed operational weaknesses into strategic strengths through innovation, and who regarded people as more important than the product, would more than likely get more out of Black Friday than just one-weekend spike in sales.
It said the lack of reinvestment by online retail in the digital underpinnings of their business is a hindrance to growth.
Research has shown that if a customer has a bad experience with a business, they usually won’t return, and Schooling reminds retailers that the same rules still apply on Black Friday.
“I would urge brands to not make the mistake of focusing only on offering the best and cheapest deals, but to think about the customers experience holistically. With the potential for great success, comes the potential for a deal to go sour if the follow-through hits wide off the mark,” she said.
Leaving customers with the sense that they got a great deal from a business long after the Black Friday “rush” wears off will depend on their customer experience. Brands should make it a good one and use the opportunity to stand out from the crowd.
Here is Schoolings quick fundamental guide for retailers to make sure they deliver on CX this Black Friday:
1. Be accessible
The high pressure “buy now or miss out for good!” aspect of Black Friday coupled with our busy, mobile modern existence means that deals need to be instantly accessible. Your customers want to take advantage of Black Friday, but they have work, childcare, and other commitments that can’t be put on hold.
2. It’s all in the delivery
You must be prepared to deliver on all your Black Friday promises. Deals applied for but not honoured will live on in social media and consumer review sites such as Trustpilot. The Internet has a very long memory and the negative effects of not following through on your promise can haunt your brand.
3. Take the opportunity to turn traffic into data
Make a database of new customers that shop with you. Collect data about their experience and learn from it. This is an opportunity to gather valuable insights about your customers buying behaviour and attitudes towards your products or services.
4. Be Prepared
Take on temporary staff, prepare your workforce, ensure your servers can handle the extra traffic, make sure your payment systems are robust and have a Plan B for as many eventualities as you can think of. You want your customers to be elated, not frustrated.
5. Assure customers of their safety
It’s a vulnerable time for consumer safety, both in-store and online. With identity theft on the rise in South Africa, making customers feel safe can go a long way. Brick and mortar retailers should increase in-store safety with visible security staff presence. They can also have a controlled front-of-house entry point or invest in in-store camera systems. Online retailers could add additional layers of authentication and offer payment methods whereby the consumer has recourse.