Consumers are evolving, retailers must adapt or die Customer service champion and numero CEO, Guy Colclough, highlights some remarkable innovations changing the face of retailing for good. onsumers love technology. Anyone in any
that make their life easier. We know this from first-hand
doubt should check the plethora of recently
experience seeing the amazing reaction to things like our text &
published research from a host of respected
reserve functionality (first developed in 2006), our iPhone
bodies. Ofcom, the independent regulator for the UK
applications that streamline customer returns processes and an
communications industries, captured the mood of the
array of new mobile shopping applications. So, for ambitious
nation when it found that on average people spend
retailers it’s not a case of how to meet the new communication
half their waking life using media and communications
demands of consumers but how quickly they can take advantage
(see table 1). ForeSee Results, in their Report on
of the new opportunities given the specific needs and
Mobile Shopping (UK Edition) covering the behaviour of nearly
preferences of their customer segments.
10,000 people, found that a third of consumers have shopped by mobile and a third more plan to do so (see table 2). And
One size doesn’t fit all
Josh Bernhoff, senior vice president idea development at
Despite Apple recently reporting a staggering 86 per cent
Forrester, charts the rise of the digitally empowered consumer,
year-on-year increase in sales of its trendsetting iPhone and
Nokia signalling the importance of smartphones with news of
“The spread of smart mobile devices means that people now
its groundbreaking tie-up with Microsoft; consumers remain
have access to those connections wherever they are, not just
individuals with specific preferences. And so, even with everyone
when they are at a computer. The availability of cloud services
embracing technology, people choose to communicate in
can tell you in an instant what your house is worth or whether
different ways and at different times. Rather than establish a
the restaurant you are about to go into is any good. And then
single platform for communication, technology has created a
video creates a new dimension. The combination of all of those
multi-channel society in which people can do what they like,
technologies means that the consumer who wants satisfaction
when the like. Enforcing a contact strategy based on telephony
is now in a position to have a lot more power than they have
alone is simply not good enough anymore.
ever had before.”
numero research into consumer behaviour has identified a number of consumer segments, each with very distinctive
Table 1: Key Ofcom findings about technology use in the UK
attitudes and preferences in relation to communication. I believe
• Consumers spend 7 hours a day watching TV, surfing the web and using mobiles
that all retailers need to understand the needs of individuals
• Consumers often multi-task using several devices at once
and adapt their customer service approaches accordingly. A one
• Mobile internet & smartphones are the key drivers in multichannel comms
size fits all approach is no longer acceptable to consumers as
• 13.5 million people surf the web on mobiles, 3 times the 2008 figure
smarter organisations deliver bespoke and personalised services.
• 25% of time online is now spent on social media including Facebook
The research, which is available in a free report from
• Internet penetration is now 73% in the UK
www.thisisnumero.com, includes more on the consumer
• Silver surfers are part of a growing population of social media fans
segments shown in table three. The scenario creates a real issue for retailers faced with
In fact, hardly a day goes by without further anecdotal or factual evidence confirming that the information age has taken
the need to support multiple consumer types, via multiple communication channels, while looking after business as usual.
a grip of the population. A trend we continually respond to at numero with the ongoing development of our software
The strongest survive
platform for retailers.
numero has the good fortune to work with many leading lights in the retail world, including Tesco, Argos, GAME, Matalan,
What consumers want
Lakeland, JD Williams, Selfridges & Co, Homebase, Dixons, Yodel,
Technology-savvy consumers are real advocates of innovations
Ideal Shopping, FGH and Express Gifts. We’re fascinated to see
04 RS February - March 2011
how global leaders in the retail field are embracing technology
Table 2: ForeSee Results Report on Mobile Shopping (UK Edition)
to provide a completely different user experience. This change has strongly influenced the development of the numero
• 32% of consumers currently use mobile phones to access retailer websites
solutions platform with substantial and ongoing R&D creating a
• A further 32% of consumers plan to use mobile phones to access retailer websites
class leading system that provides a wealth of multi-channel
• 10% of web shoppers purchased via mobiles for the Christmas season
functionality fit for all the communication preferences of
• Purchases via mobiles have increase 400% in one year
different customer groups.
• Price comparisons, product specifications, product reviews and product
It’s clear that many retailers are evolving in line with the
alternatives are the primary reasons for accessing the websites and applications by
customer’s needs, but many aren’t. The outcome is likely to be
the same as natural evolution, with those who adapt securing
• Consumers who are satisfied with the mobile experience are 32% more likely to buy
their futures at the expense of others. Another of our research projects measured the customer service performance of 80 of the UK’s leading brands and revealed staggering shortfalls by
beyond. Here’s just a flavour of what we’re already seeing in
large retailers who risk extinction. The findings show that many
major retailers along with some new developments:
perform badly across aspects of communication that consumers consider to be straightforward. The findings from the research
Embracing the social consumer. Monitoring social media
are too far-reaching to cover in this article but the fact that
channels that are popular with your consumer base and
response times ranged from immediate to many days is an
responding accordingly in full view of their community.
indication of the failure of many to follow good practice. The
Reaching out to consumers through the channels they are
findings are essential reading for any retailer interested in
comfortable with, directing them to more traditional channels
world-class service and are available in a free concise report at
www.thisisnumero.com Online buzz monitoring & reporting. Automated collation of
There’s no excuse
online, social commentary which can prioritise comments
The concept for the numero business came from a poor
about your brand; allowing you to focus your time on the
customer service experience I had with an international bank.
most extreme or most influential discussions. Sentiment
Many years, thousands of users and over a million software
analysis allows you to track perception of your brand
development hours later and I know for certain that no large
retailer has any valid reason for not supporting the multi-channel preferences of today’s consumer by delivering new services
New & emerging mobile technologies. Location services
which integrate their businesses to provide a superlative
facilitate delivery of information relevant to the user’s location.
consumer experience. And yet, many are blinded by perceived
Using smartphone cameras to scan barcodes or interpret text
problems relating to IT systems compatibility, existing processes
to reduce transaction time and make consumers’ lives easier.
or compliance requirements. That’s why I believe it is necessary
Near-field communications standard allows users to make
to tackle the doom merchants and naysayers with hard facts,
payments or repeat orders with their phone at the PoS.
evidence and a clear approach on how to achieve these aspirations. In numero’s case, this translates to a service called numero
Text shopping. SMS shopping that includes the facility for consumers to check stock availability by sending a simple text
act which examines, tests and quantifies the business case for
message, then reserve items for collection from their preferred
change, then makes this a contractual commitment to delivering
that and more. Add to this a highly configurable technology platform, built on open standards, that seamlessly integrates
360 degree view of the customer. However they choose
with existing systems and there really is no excuse for inertia or
to communicate, consumer records show all their dialogue
a second best consumer experience.
in a single customer record, along with an audit trail linked to
All of this is available today and proven in many differing scenarios that confirm the future is now.
their trading history - all created automatically and accessible from a single screen, without the need for an expensive CRM solution.
This is what the new world looks like Consumers are embracing technology and communicating
Fuller check-out baskets by behaviour. Intelligent interpretation
as they please which, combined with services and systems
of the consumer’s activity (whether browsing online stores or
that make everything possible, creates the potential for a very
enquiring by phone) to personalise individual offers as the
exciting approach to retailing that’s fit for today, tomorrow and
consumer engages to encourage up and cross selling.
February - March 2011 RS 05
Automated, personalised response. Emails, web forms, texts,
Automatic information serving to contact centre agents so they
document and IVR enquiries are intelligently interpreted and
don’t need to spend time looking for key information but can
follow-up action determined and directed automatically to
instead spend time deepening client engagement.
ensure a fast, efficient and personalised response.
First steps & further reading Constant proactive satisfaction surveys via voice, web, email,
The potential created by today’s technology savvy consumers
text and chat channels with the results appended to customer
is too significant for any serious retailer to ignore. However, it
records to provide a complete view of the customer journey and
represents a journey on which quick wins, long-term goals
the consumer’s ongoing satisfaction - with all this information
and multiple milestones can be achieved. Based on our work
associated with comprehensive real-time analytics.
with leading retailers and other organisations, the best starting point is to understand the potential then establish the
Dynamic customer messaging based on automatic event alerts to
keep the customer fully informed at all stages of their journey, thereby ensuring they do not have to contact their retailer unnecessarily in relation to common queries such as ‘where is my
www.thisisnumero.com contains articles and links to all
order’, ‘cancel my order’, ‘can I have a refund’ and so on.
the findings referenced in this report along with background
Dynamic returns processing to replace complex and costly returns
Please feel free to take a look or call on our experience to
processes and to reduce shipping and labour costs in the process.
on the obligation-free numero act engagement process.
Social media, smartphone
Jenny is impatient and simply moves on if
she doesn't get a reply to the messages she frequently sends. She has little time for brands that don't speak her language or belong to her world.
Email, smartphone & verbal
If Mike doesn't get a timely reply to his written communiqués he will go online and call at unusual hours. He always expects you to 'know who he is'.
Landline, written correspondence
Because Barry is uncomfortable with technology & he needs you to 'do it now', otherwise he doesn't believe it will happen. Avoid self-service for Barry as he'll simply go elsewhere.
Landline, websites, email & written correspondence
Anne always does everything right and will make it known to the highest authority when things go wrong. She is time-consuming to take care of as everything comes in chapter and verse.
See www.thisisnumero.com for full profiles and other consumer segments including the DIY Digital Dude and the Grumpy Old Man.
06 RS February - March 2011