Retailers must carefully measure if in-store, online and telephone shopping are satisfying shoppers, says Jamie Thorpe

Tesco is trialling a new satnav app to help customers locate products within its stores part of its aim to expand mobile services and become a multi-channel retailer.

With customers now accessing brands using online, face-to-face and phone interactions, linking up the whole shopping experience is challenging. If I can place my online shopping order at 6pm on a Sunday, why can't I do the same face-to-face? A consistent customer experience across a multi-channel environment is the ultimate goal and retailers are starting to recognise the value of measurement programmes that give accurate insight into how customers feel and what matters most to them, which can be very different from the brand's perception.

Research techniques should be appropriate to the interaction, so when measuring the online experience, gather feedback by email, or if a customer has ordered by phone, a phone conversation is likely to be the best way to gauge satisfaction. It's therefore likely when measuring multiple channels that a variety of techniques will be used to harvest the insight required. For example, online interaction allows shoppers to give their feedback quickly, at a time convenient to them, is cost-effective, plus it can tell you more about the customer's behaviour, interests, etc. A good tip is to ask the customer which channel they prefer to be contacted by in future, as this is likely to lead to higher engagement, evoke higher response rates and will make them feel valued.

The results ultimately help retailers identify areas for training and development, reinforce brand values, and shape the experience so that it drives customer satisfaction and loyalty, service excellence and profitability.

A consistent customer experience should start by using data to define the customer journey and map out what consumers want each channel to deliver. The experience the customer requires will be different according to the channel they are using and significant purchases will, undoubtedly, involve them using several channels.

You only need one of these to be underperforming to damage your brand's reputation.