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What does an extraordinary customer experience look like to the world’s most powerful consumers? That’s the question we explored in a thought-provoking virtual event sponsored by Avtex and Microsoft, featuring Bridget Brennan, a world-renowned expert on female consumers, and Avtex director of Customer Experience solutions, Kate Kompelien.

Brennan is Founder and CEO of the strategic advisory firm, Female Factor, author of the groundbreaking books, Winning Her Business and Why She Buys, and a long-time contributor to Kompelien is a CX leader at Avtex, helping clients across the entire spectrum of CX transformation.

In a compelling conversation with Avtex moderator Chris Wilson, Brennan and Kompelien covered strategies for increasing customer engagement in a marketplace dominated by busy women. Here are the highlights:

Women’s workforce participation has reshaped shopping patterns.

“Women’s workforce participation has been one of the biggest social revolutions of the last 100 years, and in many ways, businesses are still catching up to modern women,” said Brennan, kicking off the conversation. “It has reshaped the market in terms of how, where, when, what and why they buy. It has been a true disruption. But stereotypes are slow to die, and they can get in the way of great customer experiences,” according to Brennan. Added Kompelien, “We know that 80-85% of consumers will stop doing business with a company after one poor experience. And women don’t have time to complain, which means that you’ll never hear about a lot of the experiences that you’re providing women shoppers today.”

The gender gap is alive and well.

“There is a gender gap between women and the leadership of the companies that market and sell to them,” said Brennan. “While women dominate upwards of 70-80% of consumer spending through a combination of buying power and influence, most big companies are run by male-dominated management teams, which means that women’s perspectives are often missing,” explained Brennan. Kompelien pointed out that that understanding the why behind customer engagement is crucial. “A lot of people will look at survey data or send out questionnaires that will tell you the what but not the why,” said Kompelien. “You have to really go deep with women shoppers, along every journey they have with you, instead of sitting around with a group of executives deciding what you want to do to your customers.”

Women’s buying experiences are impacted by caregiving roles.

“As the majority of primary caregivers for children and the elderly, women are often out in the marketplace buying on behalf of others, and this adds layers of complexity to their buying decisions,” said Brennan. Kompelien added, “80% of companies believe that their customer experience was great, but only 8% of their customers agree. The more effort you make the consumer do, the less likely she’s going to want to do business with you in the future,” said Kompelien.

Women have been disproportionately impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Research shows that working mothers are now spending more hours per day on activities like household care, childcare, and distance-learning management, while many are simultaneously balancing a paid job or looking for work -- as well as keeping themselves and their families safe,” said Brennan. “This means there is simply less time to shop. And as time for shopping goes down, expectations for ease and convenience go up: it’s an inverse relationship,” explained Brennan. Kompelien added that it’s more important than ever to give women options on how they can engage with your brand. “It’s not a one-size-fits all,” she said.

Emotional engagement is key.

Brennan shared insights on four key motivators that are important to driving emotional engagement, from her book, Winning Her Business. “The Four Motivators® Framework helps businesses create experiences that leave customers feeling connected, inspired, confident and appreciated.” Like so much else, it begins with listening. “Are you really listening?” Kompelien challenged participants. “Are you reading responses to those open-ended survey questions, are you meeting weekly, or monthly, and having a discussion with your cross-functional leadership team to figure out what you need to work on and what you need to improve?”

What can retailers do right now to elevate the customer experience for women?

“Radical empathy is crucial right now,” said Brennan. “Stay in close touch with what your customers are asking for; shift your mindset from selling to helping; and conduct an audit of all of your customer-facing materials to ensure that the words and images are up-to-date and relevant for a marketplace of modern women,” Brennan emphasized. “From our retail perspective,” added Kompelien, “it’s important to make sure that all of your channels are working together. The more channels that a customer buys from you, the more profitable that customer is.”

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