Ambrosino.jpgGary Ambrosino, the president and chief operating officer of TimeTrade, thinks the key to great customer experience comes down to how and when a company engages with potential clients.  Better engagement equals more customer loyalty, in theory.

Industry Trends Uncovered 

Better software to manage the customer engagement process — whether it's by phone, mobile device or website — is the key to better customer success. TimeTrade’s Responsive Customer Engagement helps companies manage the process of customer engagement as well as track and analyze it. The Mass.-based company counts BestBuy, Prudential, Quest Diagnostics, Sprint and Harvard University among its clients.

Ambrosino has worked with some of the largest retail customer experience experts in the world, so he's a good person to go to for advice on trends in the industry. I recently caught up with him and asked him what his clients are finding are the biggest opportunities and challenges. What are you hearing from your customers these days. What are the big issues?

Ambrosino: They are trying to differentiate. This year, I think online consumer purchases are 12 percent to 14 percent of all consumer spending. It's still relatively low, but you have a big pricing impact. So what you are left with is brand differentiation. Our customers spend a lot of time thinking about how their brand is different. They are focused on productivity, floor-space inventory. It used to be about price and selection, which is off the table now. You mean pricing is too even now?

Ambrosino: Yes. It's too easy to keep track of competitive pricing, and most people are price matching, so there is price leveling effect. Everybody moves the pricing instantaneously. So it's more about the softer issues such as the relationship with the customer and customer experience. What are the biggest factors in these soft issues?

Ambrosino: I focus a lot on the discussion between the customer and the brand. How do you make this better? The online interaction experience is live a lot of the time. They can measure swings of spending or share of wallet by the quality of that experience.

If somebody has a great experience when they walk into a store, they would spend much more than they would if they were just buying that online. The customer feels better about what they are spending money on. So you are trying to replicate that online?