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“Do you want fries with that?”, “Do you need a bag?” are not yet things of the past

"Do you want fries with that?”
“Do you need a bag?”
are not yet things of the past

Caroline Black

Head of UK Level 1 Service & Customer Success at Worldline

Customer experience is driving buying decisions more than you might expect, and if you do not get it right first time, there is a real possibility you will not get a second chance.

Nearly three quarters of customers (73%) make a future buying decision at least partly based on their previous experience with a brand, according to research from PwC. Even better, almost half (43%) of customers would pay a premium for greater convenience while 42% would pay more for a friendly, welcoming experience.

 

Covid-19 impact on online customer experience

It is worth noting that before the pandemic in 2019, just 10% of businesses said creating better customer experiences is a digital priority. Yet since the beginning of the pandemic, it is estimated that 59% of businesses have accelerated their digital transformation. Covid-19 is a key factor in the change of focus, as it has forced retailers and restaurants to push through changes to their digital payments experience at a rate few would have thought possible even two years ago.

The closure of businesses to prevent the spread of Covid-19 forced companies to compete in an omni channel marketplace some were not ready for. The likes of major stores such as Debenhams and the Arcadia fashion retail group – which owned brands such as Burtons, Miss Selfridge, Top Shop and Dorothy Perkins among others – all either fell into administration between 2020 and 2021 or moved their businesses entirely online.

For some, the lesson of how important a smooth, seamless interaction between customers both in-store and online has been a hard one.

Customers are the lifeblood of any business; without them you cease to exist. So, listening to their needs and desires when it comes to customer interaction is vital. Miss these increasingly clear signals that customers want simple, fast and safe buying options both in person and online and you face a real problem.

 

Retail must learn lessons from Covid

When it comes to ensuring customers have a smooth and speedy transaction whether online or offline, the payment services you offer are absolutely key. Gone are the days when people were happy to come into a store, browse for the right product, wait for 10 minutes or more in a queue and then leave with their purchase in their hands.

Now, speed is of the essence and the experience of shopping during the pandemic has made consumers even less patient than they otherwise were, when difficulties arise that take time to resolve. The last 18 months of being forced to shop online or have our groceries and take-out meals delivered more often has changed the playing field. Various contactless payment methods have come to the fore and will continue to grow in popularity.

Bricks and mortar stores have become places to browse now they have re-opened, but many people will still go home, do their research – largely driven on price and ease/speed of delivery – and then will order online rather than buying in-store. Not everyone feels this way, but an increasing number certainly do.

 

Exceptional customer service in the QSR sector

Restaurants and coffee shops that used to prioritise in person pick up models – think McDonalds, KFC or Starbucks – were forced to get their goods to the customer rather than the other way around. The sea-change in distribution methods saw all three partnering with delivery companies to keep customers buying. 

This high level of convenience was possible thanks to seamless integrations of payments systems for both online and offline ordering. Even for those companies in the quick service restaurant sector, such as McDonalds, we have seen kiosk ordering systems that speed up service levels and reduce the need human interaction which was transformational during the pandemic. It means staff now must facilitate a good experience for the customer in a different way which could, potentially, limit upsells if it is not done well. 

However, we are not quite at the point where we will never again hear the immortal words “do you want fries with that?” Because despite the desire for fast, slick retail and food purchases, customers do still value that interaction with a human being.

Three quarters of consumers worldwide said they wanted more human interaction in the future according to PwC prior to the pandemic, and exceptional customer service is still a driver for around a quarter (26%) of customers as hopefully we near the end of the pandemic.

So, for those businesses keen to thrive in what is becoming the ‘new normal’ it is vital to have a fully integrated, seamless payments proposition to ensure customers get the equivalent service experience both online and offline with your business. But you cannot underestimate how important it is to continue with what might be considered good old-fashioned values of strong customer support from a human being.

Get both right and you will hit a sweet spot that will have your customers coming back time and time again.