Channelling data to deliver great customer service

2nd Dec 2016

‘Omnichannel’ is the latest buzzword in retailing. It is ostensibly used to describe a unified approach to doing business in store and across digital and mobile platforms. At Boots UK, though, the buzz is about empowering people – whether they are colleagues or customers. And in that bid to empower, data is king.

Robin Phillips, omnichannel and development director at Boots, highlights five ways the health and beauty retailer is embedding the omnichannel approach across its business:

1. Single-minded approach

An ongoing ‘Single View of the Customer’ programme increasingly enables Boots staff to see the most up-to-date relevant customer data, regardless of platform. Customers have a personal identity that follows them wherever and however they interact with the retailer.

This means that customers should be able to order a product online and, when they go to collect it in a physical store, receive a personalised service. It also means customers shouldn’t be sent multiple or conflicting information from different Boots services – each of which identifies customers separately.

2. An app that assists store workers

Working with Apple and IBM, Boots has developed a Sales Assist iPad app for employees, which enables them to offer better customer service in store. The app keeps store workers informed about marketing campaigns and any offers that customers may ask about. It also tells staff what is trending on the boots.com website and whether a product is in stock.

Phillips says: “It will help even our smallest stores feel like a flagship store, with access to the entire Boots range at their fingertips.”

3. Gaining customers’ trust

All this extra data must be used in the right way. According to Phillips, the profile of the digitally literate has changed over the years and millennials are much happier about sharing data, but he emphasises: “They expect to share a lot of information, and trust you will make good decisions off the back of it.”

He adds: “We need to demonstrate that we are using the data as customers would expect.”

4. The personal touch

By bringing together data and content strategies, retailers can tailor their communication to offer a personalised service that goes beyond the ubiquitous “if you liked this, you might also like this” approach of some of the large websites, says Phillips.

Boots is already offering such a service through its ‘Beautiful You’ proposition, which he describes as a ‘hyper-personalised’ experience.

Beautiful You gives customers an individual profile of their skin, online or in person. It then recommends the most relevant products – and not just Boots products – for their skin. Such products can then be purchased and placed, virtually, in an online beauty cabinet.

5. Turning customers into advocates

Customers are encouraged, via Beautiful You, to review, rate and recommend products via social media.

Phillips says: “If you can get proper Boots customers who are telling the truth about what these products do, that is the most powerful advocacy you can have.”

This interview is taken from a longer feature in issue 21 of The Institute’s Customer Focus magazine.

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