A Retail Case Study
A large U.S. retailer called in North Highland to redesign its in-store pickup experience, which was suffering from low customer satisfaction levels. The number of customers using the retailer’s website to order items to be picked up in-store was growing, and fast. The service accounted for about half of the revenue generated through the retailer’s website and projections for future growth were rosy.
These in-store pickup customers, however, were saying in increasing numbers that they were dissatisfied with the service — as were the employees helping them in-store. In post-purchase surveys conducted by the retailer, most of these customers said they wouldn’t shop on the retailer’s website again and many reported that they wouldn’t buy anything from the retailer’s physical locations either — representing potentially millions in lost revenue.
Understanding why customers and employees were not happy with the service was critical for the retailer to realize the potential of this sales channel.
North Highland — along with experts from its experience design division, Sparks Grove — partnered with the client to utilize a well-established set of methodologies to map the journey of in-store pickup customers' experiences. Through this, the team developed insights that enabled the team to design a better customer experience, and they did so very rapidly by incorporating agile processes that involved the retailer every step of the way.
The team began by gathering insights in simple, innovative ways. Individual customer experiences were mapped entirely - from check-out to when the customer walked out of the store with the purchase. This rapid phase of intensive qualitative research included in-store and phone interviews with customers, and interviews with the retailer’s employees. The team also used crowdsourcing techniques and technology to identify and recruit people to use the in-store pickup service, answer surveys, and submit video feedback about their experiences. In total, these 50 in-depth interviews identified patterns that shed light on the root causes of the low customer satisfaction levels — all in just seven weeks.
These insights fed directly into brainstorming workshops with key members of the retailer’s team. The sessions helped identify 100 ideas for improvement — potential solutions that were ultimately boiled down into 25 priority concepts to pilot in select stores.
The solutions piloted helped the retailer create a new customer experience, one that required no increase in staffing levels. Responding to concerns identified in the research phase, the service desk was redesigned, providing a dedicated line for in-store pickup customers. The retailer increased comfort levels with the process by ensuring items were visible and ready for pickup when the customer arrived, complete with a bag and a receipt. The pilot also included training for the retailer’s employees that helped communicate the importance of their role in making these in-store pickup customers feel valued. Each initiative was evaluated frequently, with adjustments made to the approaches based on feedback from customers and employees.
Over the course of the pilot program, the retailer saw an uptick in net new sales in the test markets, with customers reporting increased levels of satisfaction during post-purchase surveys. Employee satisfaction levels increased due to the more streamlined processing and increased compliments from customers who were happy with the in-store pickup experience. The retailer anticipates significant cost savings as a result of the new, more efficient customer experience.