Appointment scheduling in retail is an effective driver of success right now, and will continue to be an essential part of long-term, omnichannel retail strategies. As many businesses implement an appointments solution, they start to consider how to train their staff to be properly prepared to exceed customer expectations during each appointment. But what about the after? How do you keep the conversation going after an appointment? How do you ensure your customers are happy and satisfied? How can you create a customer engagement strategy that will turn a scheduled customer into a loyal customer?
To execute a successful appointments strategy, your team needs to consider the full customer journey - from the moment a customer books an appointment all the way to post-appointment communication. By using a customer-first approach and personalizing interactions, your teams can easily increase customer engagement and loyalty.
Importance of customer engagement for retail
We live in the experience economy, so you better believe that customer engagement matters in retail! With an extremely competitive landscape and a push for more retail technology to harmonize the customer journey across all channels, engagement is one of the key drivers in providing a cohesive, consistent, and compelling customer experience. Doing this well means personalizing at scale.
Guess what’s going to help you transform your customer engagements into personalized, memorable experiences? Data! Utilizing customer data, you can tailor unique looks, make customized product suggestions, and get to know your customers on a deeper level. There is so much value you can derive from diving into your data and using it to arm your staff and business with the knowledge to personalize customer interactions. And just how important is personalization? Well, the stats don’t lie...
71% of consumers feel frustrated when a shopping experience is impersonal (Segment)
91% of consumers say they are more likely to shop with brands that provide offers and recommendations that are relevant to them (Accenture)
73% of consumers say a business has never communicated with them online in a way that felt too personalized or invasive (Accenture)
If you want to remain competitive in today’s retail landscape, you can’t afford to compromise the customer experience. You need to nurture your customers as a part of your appointments strategy to see long-term success.
Retail strategies to increase customer engagement after appointments
There are many ways your staff can prepare for an appointment, but there are just as many - if not more - ways you can follow up post-appointment to drive more engagement. Consumers want white-glove service and VIP treatment - so show them why they should continue to be loyal to your brand! Here are some best practices for engaging your customers after an appointment:
Set expectations. This is actually something your staff should do during, or right at the very end of an appointment. When your customer comes in for an appointment or meets virtually, ensure your staff asks to schedule the next appointment. Asking to meet again is a great way for your staff to continue building deeper customer relationships.
Follow up immediately. Immediately following the appointment, your retail associates should send a quick email or text message to thank the customer for their time, and that they will be following up with more detailed information soon.
Personalize outreach. To show a deep level of understanding and attention to detail, your retail associates should follow up with a personalized email or SMS recapping the conversation during the appointment and sending additional product recommendations. If they were shopping for a new outfit to take on a beach vacation, then the follow-up message could include some additional accessories like a sun hat or a pair of sandals. If it was a wedding dress appointment, the staff member could follow up with some venue decor recommendations that complement the style of the gown they purchased. If a customer was shopping for a new sofa and chairs, your staff could follow up with an area rug that matches the set. This personalized outreach ensures your customers feel heard and cared for, and is a great opportunity to cross-sell.
Make the ask. Scheduled customers can easily become your most loyal customers. First, they tend to have done more research on your products and are more likely to make a purchase. In fact, some retailers have seen an average conversion rate of 70% for customers who book appointments. So if a retail associate wasn’t able to secure an additional appointment during the scheduled visit, then ask again in the follow-up communication. Set a timeframe that your staff reaches out again to touch base and schedule another appointment. Remind them how easy it is to book an online appointment with your brand, and how they can easily select which staff member they want to meet with.
Give access to an exclusive event. Every customer wants to be treated like a VIP. They want your undivided attention. Luckily, appointments already lend a hand in this level of service. To reiterate how much you care about your customers, then engage them further by inviting them to an exclusive event - such as an in-store cooking event or online personal shopping event with a local influencer.
Offer a deal. With high conversion rates and improved customer loyalty, appointments are a surefire way to increase revenue. Continue to show your appreciation by offering a one-time offer, whether it’s a free gift with their next purchase or the next time they schedule an appointment. Or maybe it’s a significant discount on their next purchase. But make it count, make it worth it, and make sure it is a unique offer to your appointment customers!
Ask for an appointment review. One bad experience can ruin your relationship with a customer. In fact, a recent study from PwC, 1 in 3 customers will leave a brand they love after just one bad experience, while 92% would completely abandon a company after two or three negative interactions. But one great experience is your key to improving customer lifetime value (CLV). If you provide a personalized, memorable one-to-one appointment experience, then ask for a review! Ask if they will mention the appointment in their review and describe their experience.
These are just some of the ways you can follow up with and engage your customers after an appointment. Just as you do with a loyalty program, find a way to make your scheduled customers feel like a top priority.
Software solutions to help increase customer engagement after retail appointments
Having the right appointment scheduling software in place makes it easy to engage with your customers post-appointment. This relationship can continue to develop and deepen over time.
Important considerations for retailers when it comes to selecting appointment scheduling software:
Integrations: Does it integrate with your current technology stack? Whether it’s your clienteling system or CRM, you need to ensure your technology works together to give you a holistic view of your business!
Omnichannel retail experiences: It should enable you to meet your customers - wherever they are! Whether they want to meet with you in-person, then shop online, or have a virtual appointment and pick up their purchase in-store, your appointment scheduling solution needs to meet the demands of the omnichannel, hybrid customer.
Appointment control and management: Customers want to be able to schedule, cancel, and reschedule appointments on their terms. Your solution should offer a way for customers to control their own scheduling process. Giving your customers the ability to quickly and easily reschedule will not only help improve the customer experience, but can help reduce no-shows. You should also ensure that customers get automated appointment reminders of scheduled or cancelled appointments. Automated reminders are critical in reducing no-shows and cancellations!
In-depth, actionable analytics: Your online appointment booking system should come with an out-of-the-box analytics solution that makes it easy for you and your entire team to not only measure KPIs and the success of your XRM strategy but to continuously improve. Can you measure things like wait time, lead time, appointment volume, seasonal trends, and more? With insights into critical data, you can take action to improve the customer experience.
All in all, the way you follow up after an appointment matters. By giving just as much attention to personalization after the appointment, your customers will feel that you truly listened and cared, and this will lead to more loyalty long-term. And this… this is exactly how top retailers are successful - by considering every touchpoint along the customer journey, including post-appointment and post-sale.
Want to learn more about how top retailers are seeing success with an appointments strategy and engaging their customers? Then check out the following success stories:
About the author
The JRNI team is made up of product, customer, and technical experts who are focused on driving personalized experiences - for our customers, and for theirs. The JRNI blog enables us to dive into how retail and financial organizations can use personalized experiences to grow profitability, build stronger customer relationships, and drive customer loyalty.
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