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As the retail industry adapts and evolves to meet the growing demands of customers, technologies have shifted to better serve them from an all-encompassing contact centre environment.
There’s an increasing pressure on brands to meet and exceed customer expectations in the retail industry today. What changes can retailers make to their contact centres to do just this?
Customer experience (CX) in retail is undergoing a transformation that is seeing the likes of artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) change the ways customers engage with brands altogether.
The retail sector faces a tough challenge to adapt to the ever-changing expectations of its consumers when it comes to measuring customer experience. Whilst the industry is still some way off a complete adoption of a streamlined CX for shoppers, the trend towards e-commerce as an increasingly viable alternative to traditional high street retail units is a clear marker that contact centres must evolve to keep up with customer demands.
Here are some ways in which the focus of your retail contact centre can be shifted for the better for your customer and agent satisfaction:
Customers have more choice than ever when it comes to getting in touch with a brand, so agents need to be fully prepared to deal with any type of query at any given time.
At the point of contact, your retail contact centre agents are, after all, representing your brand in the same ways as sales associates are in your shops or stores – and you would expect the latter to have all the answers to hand if they were asked a face-to-face question. The only difference with the contact centre engagements is that they are not face-to-face.
The ever-growing list of engagement choices available to the consumer makes it more and more difficult to provide visibility of every aspect of their journey so far at the precise point of engagement. That’s why a 360° view of past engagements with a customer and, of course, full context of the current engagement will significantly improve the agent experience and the overall satisfaction of the customer. A unified approach to CX will mean that they will feel they have received the same level of service that they would expect on the high street.
This needs to be achieved not only by providing access to previous interactions on every channel at every point, but also by providing the meaningful and relevant data sets to the agent so they can assist the customer. This could be anything from alternative product details, store information, return procedures or complaints processes – examples that are all too often difficult or even impossible to access.
One of the quirks of the retail sector is that the traditional contact method of the phone is still frequently used to reach local stores to enquire about things like opening hours, deliveries and collections.
This often results in a significant amount of wasted time in a contact centre when human agents are left to deal with unnecessarily monotonous tasks – but this needn’t be the case.
Conversational agents like chatbots, callbots and voicebots and self-service solutions like help centres can be employed to take care of these tasks instead so your human agents can be freed up for more complex issues.
This gives customers the ability to find answers to their queries at any time of the day or night, too, so your retail contact centre won’t be clogged up during opening hours.
This is the key to making CX innovations work for you – it comes down to fitting them into your solution as smoothly as possible. It’s one thing to recognise the need for a new tool, but it’s another to deploy it correctly for the benefit of all involved, which means taking an all-encompassing, top-down view of how your customers interact with you as a retail brand. This includes recognising that these channels can run out of answers, so it is essential to establish a seamless connection to live agents when necessary.
Never underestimate the power of personalisation in CX. If retail is about offering a certain lifestyle to your customers, personalising the experience you give them is one way to fit seamlessly into it.
It would be catastrophic to only distinguish customers by value or channel choice today, especially given the depth of data available to retailers through the likes of loyalty schemes and mobile apps that can track location. Such tools can be leveraged to provide the kind of personalised service that, for instance, delivers an offer straight to a customer’s handset as soon as they walk into the store. If they have questions, a direct link to live agents can be included and the whole experience becomes even more connected.
A recent CX study by Longitude for Verizon found that almost half of respondents (47%) would be inclined to buy from a company again if they were given a personalised experience in the first place – even if a competitor of theirs offered them a better price.
This presents a huge opportunity for retailers to create brand ambassadors by winning and keeping business with bespoke experiences for certain audiences. Artificial intelligence (AI), for instance, allows you to customise the language that your chatbots and callbots use so you can speak on your customers’ level and respond to them with prepared and targeted communications even when a real human agent isn’t involved.
A database of questions and statements can be built to ‘teach’ your conversational agents to speak to your customers on a human level. If the bot can’t take the query any further, intelligent routing will use the context of the conversation to direct the customer to the most appropriate human agent to complete the experience.
This is a great way to compete with trendier retail brands that might lean on a digital-first strategy for CX because it has the potential to make you much more relatable to your customer base.
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