This post is by Liz Parry, Strategic Account Director at Teleperformance UK.
Customer service has long been seen as an important focus for retailers, but never before has the complete customer experience figured so strategically in their vision for the future. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the shopping centre.
For years, the shopping centre – or mall – offered parking, a covered environment, and a collection of shops. That was about the extent of the offer, a convenient place to park and visit various shops without needing to brave the elements on the High Street, but this is now changing.
With so many retailers now embracing the omnichannel it is harder than ever to convince shoppers that they need to visit the stores. In fact, many shoppers now visit because they have ordered online and just need to collect an order. They are not hanging around and browsing the neighbouring stores.
So what can the shopping centres do? They need customers to visit more often and to stay for longer, so a detailed examination of the customer journey is required to improve the shopping centre experience. I can suggest three key areas where most shopping centres need to improve:
- Information: we live in an age where every customer has a smart phone yet some shopping centres still hand out paper maps or information on opening hours. Get all the relevant information in one place, on a website or an app and make it easy to use.
- Convenience: it may feel luxurious to have people carrying your bags, but a personal concierge service where my afternoon visiting several shops results in me collecting all my purchases near to the car park makes life much easier than walking around with bags for hours. Any service like this that makes the experience easier is going to help people to visit more often and enjoy their experience.
- Hospitality: think about the kind of stores in your shopping centre and plan food and drink areas around this. How many shopping centres have a food court that doesn’t go far beyond burgers and hot dogs, yet the stores in the centre are often mid to high end? Offer low-priced fast food, but also ensure there is an option for real food, or pub food, too.
With retailers now building a direct relationship with their customers, the landlords and owners of shopping centres need to think ever more deeper about why people visit. It’s no longer just to spend hours browsing the shops. The omnichannel lets customers buy and engage with brands directly so the experience a customer has when visiting a shopping centre is now critical for its success.
Which shopping centres do you think are doing this really well? Leave your ideas here or get in touch direct on my LinkedIn.
CC Photo by Jack Torcello.