Genov will be speaking on the topic ‘Giving Customers a Voice in a World Full of Numbers’ at the hybrid Ecom Africa conference and expo in Cape Town this week, a talk that will highlight that the fundamentals of nurturing consumer relationships still hold true despite the data deluge.
Bulgarian-born Genov feels that there exists room for businesses to make more meaningful, emotional connections with customers by incorporating more qualitative research. His advice is to actively invest in a feedback loop that lets customers tell you what they want and how they feel about their experience of your brand.
He acknowledged however that being too focused on the individual complicates running a business. That’s why to deliver a meaningful online customer experience, e-tailers must balance data analytics with understanding customers on a psychological level. “When these two groups work together that's where the magic happens,” he said.
Digital tools and algorithms are only a good investment if they actually serve the customer and their needs. Illustrating how an algorithm may not be optimised for human behaviour, Genov used the example of an online shopper who’s added a lawnmover to their cart being prompted on the confirmation screen to buy yet another lawnmover because they’ve displayed interest in the product.
On a related note, Genov explained that chatbots are best executed when they emulate human interaction. If a shopper logs into Zappos, for example, the chatbot may greet them, mention that it’s raining in the city the customer is located in, and perhaps suggest an umbrella or some rain boots. “It’s about creating digital experiences in a meaningful way,” said Genov.
Before expanding into apparel, Zappos was focused solely on footwear. Tony Hsieh, Zappos co-founder and former CEO, recognised that people could buy shoes anywhere and so he propagated the idea that customer service would be the unique value proposition for the retailer.
The customer service hook went beyond just interpersonal communication between shoppers and sales/service agents, but extended to flexibility around returns policies, for example.
Zappos boasts a 365-day return policy and covers the cost of return delivery costs. The latter may seem pretty commonplace today, but considering the e-tailer launched during the nascent stage of e-commerce, “that generosity helped people to start trying e-commerce and trusting the online experience”, Genov said.
“Tony used to say Zappos is a customer service company that happens to sell shoes. Our current CEO Scott Schaefer builds on that and says Zappos is a customer experience company that happens to sell shoes,” added Genov.Asked which investments e-commerce businesses should be making be making to ramp up customer experience in meaningful way, Genov said, “Invest in psychological understanding. Invest in good service. Invest in understanding your customers because they’re not all the same.”