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How Has Hybrid Shopping Affected VoC

March 10, 2023 | | Voice of the Customer, Voice of Customer

The COVID-19 pandemic forced consumers to rely more heavily on digital shopping methods due to lockdowns and social distancing measures that limited access to brick-and-mortar stores. Companies had to build an omni-channel presence or risk falling behind.

Today, customers prefer hybrid shopping: purchasing the items they need online, in-store, and via click-and-collect services. This evolution in shopping behavior makes it more difficult for businesses to track and analyze customer feedback due to an increasingly complex customer journey. This article will examine how hybrid shopping has changed voice of customer (VoC) initiatives, how it has altered direct, indirect, and inferred data collection, and how it has changed the future of data collection. 


Hybrid Shopping & VoC

The pandemic changed everything, from where we work to how we shop. For example, a McKinsey article published at the height of the pandemic revealed that 75% of US consumers changed their shopping behavior, and nearly 39% switched to different brands or products altogether. 

These behavioral shifts are here to stay as customers enjoy more shopping options such as online ordering, home delivery, and curbside pickup. This digital-heavy retail revolution has its perks, as it allows companies to collect customer input without bombarding them with surveys. Businesses can capture indirect and inferred VoC data through text and speech analytics pulled from customer service, social media, and chatbots. Google Analytics and other digital diagnostic tools can also be powerful ways to identify issues.


Customer Experience Challenges 

Digital purchasing has presented numerous challenges and disruptions for many brands, including clunky navigation systems, inefficient search capabilities, unreliable inventory systems, and malfunctioning check-out processes. These can all result in a subpar shopping experience for customers. 

Moreover, some industries must consider the operational implications of creating new purchasing channels. New delivery modalities like buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) and curbside pickup add to the responsibilities of employees who may have previously only focused on in-store customer experience. With hybrid purchasing options, they now need to juggle multiple channels and deliver excellent customer experience in each.

To overcome these challenges, brands must effectively gather and analyze customer opinions to enhance their shopping experiences. This requires developing strategies to collect feedback both directly and passively before integrating that feedback to gain a comprehensive understanding of customer needs and preferences.


How Hybrid Has Altered Direct, Indirect, And Inferred Data Collection


Brands Are Mindful Of Survey Fatigue 

To keep track of VoC in the digital space, brands have invested in passive and active listening technology along with customer and employee journey mapping. A strategic combination of both methods allows for actionable insights while minimizing feedback surveys that can lead to customer fatigue.


Social Media Enhances Indirect VoC 

During the peak of the pandemic, Americans spent an average of 1,300 hours on social media according to Forbes, which translates to almost an hour a day per social media platform. With customers spending so much time on social media, brands must have a social strategy in place to engage with customers and address any issues they may have.

Social media has also become a platform for influence, with consumers turning to social media platforms for inspiration, recommendations, and peer validation. This means that having a solid presence on social media can help brands connect with customers and shape their purchasing decisions. As almost a third of online consumers used the internet to search for local businesses during COVID and 93% of users report that online reviews impact their buying decisions, this isn’t something to take lightly.

To leverage social media for VoC, brands must actively monitor social media channels and promptly respond to customer feedback. This includes not only addressing negative comments and complaints but also acknowledging positive input and engaging with customers in a meaningful way. By doing so, brands can build trust and foster a loyal customer base.

stats on how social media is affecting VOC


Inferred Feedback Identifies Friction Points

As brands prioritize the customer experience, many turn to passive metrics to identify friction points and improve the shopping experience. Tools such as Google Analytics and session replay allow brands to monitor user behavior and identify potential issues without directly soliciting customer input.

Using passive metrics can help brands identify specific areas of the customer journey where customers experience friction, such as slow loading times or confusing navigation. From there, brands can form hypotheses about the cause of the friction and develop targeted solutions to address the problem.

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