Every person with purchasing power can be turned into a loyal customer, but it needs to start with the customer experience.
An all-too-frequent scenario happens when a customer urgently orders an item from a retailer’s website and only receives an email confirmation but no shipping information as to when their order will arrive. So, the customer then goes on the retailer’s website to find out their order status. But guess what? They checked out as a guest and can’t log in to view their order.
The next logical step for the already-frustrated customer is to pick up the phone to call customer service, but they’re met with an automated message stating that there is a 10- to 15-minute wait time. This scenario typically ends with a very defeated customer by the time they get a representative on the phone.
If this retailer had a proactive customer service approach and offered a personalized experience, it would have eliminated the frustration—and situation—entirely.
This year alone, total U.S. retail and e-commerce sales are forecast to climb to over $645 billion, which means a lot of growth for U.S. retailers. As these sales grow at a steady rate, now more than ever, the customer experience (CX) is serving as a powerful differentiator for brands. For retailers looking to build brand loyalty and best-in-class customer service, proactive CX must be the primary focus.
Anticipating customer needs and addressing them proactively before they ask for help can be easily achieved through initiatives that include new technologies and the right staff. Together, effective technology and skilled customer service representatives can complement each other to provide a compelling and proactive customer experience.
Adopt Proactive Technology
There are a lot of customer service buzzwords floating around—robotic process automation (RPA), chatbots, artificial intelligence (AI)—but within the hype of these new technologies, their original purpose can easily get lost, which is to strengthen your customer service department and make it more productive and proactive.
Over time, these technologies are expected to fully automate back-end and repetitive customer-facing activities while increasingly applying AI capabilities. Automation makes it easier for the company to issue information like real-time notifications for order updates, or the option for an automatic call-back.
Leveraging automation makes sense for contact centers because the technology is supporting representatives to do their work more efficiently (mostly while dealing with customers). Processes can be handled quicker and with greater accuracy, reducing the need for unnecessary repeat contact, which can free up representatives to focus on more strategic and complex work. This makes automation a win-win for both businesses and customers.
Start Smart by Building the Right Staff
Retailers today, especially those with an e-commerce business, need to keep up with a rapidly evolving technology landscape and the consumer expectation that they can contact a brand anytime, through any device. With a need for every phone call and every chat box to be answered, brands must hire enough customer service representatives to meet the demand of their business. The key is to staff up so your organization can efficiently manage volume while still maintaining your CX standards.
To help get new representatives up to speed efficiently and quickly, retailers can provide training in advance, so new-hires can be ready when needed. For example, retailers can offer online training that new employees can go through before their start date, from anywhere. Remember to train new employees on the topics they will be dealing with the most like your returns policy and product recommendations.
Retailers should also look to make your customer service representatives brand ambassadors, starting with recruiting the right people by looking for traits such as proper tone, composure and passion, and making sure they are trained thoroughly and not just reading from a script. They should have a passion for the brand. Customers are looking for authentic help, which is why they called or sent a chat in the first place, so representatives shouldn’t sound robotic—or risk being mistaken for a chatbot. But the most important aspect is making sure they’re a customer too by immersing them in the brand and having them use the product or service in their everyday life to drive their passion even further.
Leveraging Technology to Empower People
As the business world becomes more competitive and commoditized, customer service is becoming a key avenue for brands to differentiate themselves. How a company treats its customers and, more importantly, how it makes them feel, is now considered one of the most important factors in retail and e-commerce. While customer service is being transformed by huge advances in technology, the human component will always be just as important.
On the front lines, customer service representatives are often the only interaction your customers will have with your company, and ultimately the face of your brand. Companies are putting major investments in automation, so they can empower customer service representatives to deliver best-in-class service, which is going to be the ultimate contact center differentiator.
Most people have experienced at least once the feeling of getting off the phone from a successful interaction with customer service, so it’s critical to provide the right environment for your representatives to have the tools they need to success. Companies can go about this is by providing your customer service team the right technologies to achieve a key component of your business: to create a positive and proactive customer experience.