Why Your Customers Now Expect More Value, and 4 Ways to Provide It
Consumers’ expectations around their shopping experience have grown significantly in recent years, and inflation is only driving them higher. With the cost of pretty much everything—from food to household goods to gas—rising, consumers want more “bang for their buck.”
In other words, people expect the merchants they shop with and make purchases from to provide more value.
As a merchant, enhancing your customer experience can achieve this and ultimately help you win over consumers who are getting choosier about how and when they spend money. In fact, a recent study by EY found that 52% of consumers say it has become harder to afford things due to inflation, and more than half of all consumers across all income levels are changing their shopping behaviors and purchase decisions.
Given these changing consumer spending behaviors, how can merchants provide extra value to their customers in hopes of maintaining their loyalty or winning their business?
Here are four key strategies, along with important considerations:
Strategy 1: Provide more shopping and payment convenience.
Customers increasingly expect more flexibility around how they shop and pay—and merchants are wise to give it to them. The EY report says that consumers today crave a “frictionless” shopping and payment experience more than ever before.
Offering options like Buy Now, Pay Later, QR code payments augmented reality tools, home delivery or curbside pickup lets customers design an experience that best fits their personal needs and preferences.
Research by McKinsey found that consumers increasingly expect personalisation across various aspects of their customer journey and providing it pays off for merchants by boosting sales, customer satisfaction ratings and employee morale.
What to consider:
As you offer customers more payment options—particularly digital payment options—you’re likely to be conducting more card-not-present (CNP) transactions. Unlike with card-present transactions, merchants are generally liable for covering the cost of any CNP fraud, including processing fees. So it’s important to understand this liability shift and have dispute and chargeback prevention strategies in place.
Strategy 2: Offer self-serve customer support tools.
Customers also increasingly want more options when it comes to how, when and where they get customer support. In fact, a recent McKinsey study found that consumers have gravitated toward self-checkout at stores and other forms of self-support through digital tools over the past couple of years and don’t plan to turn back.
Providing an omnichannel customer-service experience—such as providing support via email, phone, in-app and online chat—lets customers get the help they need, when and where they want it (even at 3 a.m.). Moreover, providing “self-serve” options—across the customer journey from browsing to post purchase—creates a better experience at every touchpoint along the way.
For example, merchants can provide customers access to rich purchase details, by providing a digital receipt with the description of what they purchased right in the digital banking applications they use to check their payment transactions. This level of self-service provides clarity and prevents the need for shoppers to inquiry about the purchase with the merchant or their card issuer.
What to consider:
While omnichannel support provides more flexibility, it can require multiple integrations to get the right mix of tools in place. Consider choosing tools that add the most value to your customers while providing them with a seamless shopping experience.
Strategy 3: Add mutually beneficial solutions.
The same tools that add value to the customer experience can help merchants, too—by reducing the cost and time spent having to address customer inquiries.
For example, Ethoca Consumer ClarityTM allows merchants to put rich transaction details—including a recognisable merchant name and logo and purchase description—into the digital banking apps that customers use to check their transaction history. This simplifies the customer experience by making it clear what merchant’s transaction they are looking at and reduces purchase confusion that can lead to the need to contact the card issuer or merchant for details.
In turn, that transparency into their purchases can reduce friendly fraud—when customers dispute legitimate transactions because they don’t recognise them and think they’re fraud. That means merchants are preventing disputes and chargebacks while providing their customers with the transaction details they want.
What to consider:
It’s important to remember that adding value to the customer experience often provides benefits to the merchant as well. By providing more convenience and self-serve options to the customer, you’re not only simplifying their experience but you’re reducing the time and costs involved with serving them.
Strategy 4: Keep an eye on the future.
What consumers are seeking from their customer experience is constantly evolving, and the tools and technologies they want are as well.
Merchants that want to meet or exceed these expectations need to keep an eye on changing trends in shopping and payments and adopt those practices, tools and technologies that make sense for their business.
What to consider:
It’s important to work with partners that offer solutions that can seamlessly be adapted and updated as consumer habits shift.
Reaping the Rewards of Value-Added Offerings
As consumer expectations and purchase behaviors change—whether due to inflation or something else—it’s important that merchants are always on the lookout for ways to add value to the customer experience. Ultimately, the experience you offer is what compels customers to come back again and again.