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With falling sales figures and the high street in financial turmoil, providing a truly excellent customer experience has never been more essential for retailers, according to research firm Rapide, which suggests several ideas to leave customers feeling more loyal and engaged to retail brands. This article is copyright 2012 The Best Customer Guide.

Industry research suggests that 70% of customer defection is down to poor customer experience, but that 96% of unhappy customers don't tell the company involved. However with just a 5% reduction in customer defection, profits can increase by up to 50% (according to research by Bain & Co).

Consequently, Rapide has identified several tricks that many retail companies are missing when it comes to the customer journey, and suggests eight simple steps toward offering the kind of superior experience that keeps customers coming back repeatedly:

  1. Make all of your customer communications both convenient and relevant throughout the entire customer journey;
  2. Bring the online and offline worlds together seamlessly, so that customers see the same messages and offers no matter which channel they prefer to use when interacting with the brand;
  3. Embrace and empower your employees, because a good customer experience starts and ends with them;
  4. Engage your customers actively at every point of interaction;
  5. Turn 'moments of truth' into moments of opportunity by allowing your customers to voice their ideas, opinions, praise, and complaints, and to tell you how they feel;
  6. Act upon every piece of actionable insight you can gather, proving that customers are important to the brand;
  7. Mobilise and enable your brand advocates through every channel possible, including mobile and social media;
  8. Do everything in real-time, making sure that all information is gathered, processed, analysed and acted upon immediately.

According to Nigel Shanahan, managing director for Rapide, "Our biggest belief is that every customer should be given the chance to have their say in real-time at the 'moment of truth'. All the clients we have worked with have seen an increase in revenue and an improved experience for their customers."

The company's white paper detailing the eight steps has been made available for free download - click here (1.6Mb PDF document).