Today’s retail customers have so many opportunities to purchase and interact with products. They can visit brick-and-mortar locations, shop on the company website, purchase through third-party subscription box services, try, buy, rent, the list goes on. Every customer buys things their own way, but they’re all looking for the same thing: a shopping experience that feels personalized to them.
In order for companies to succeed, they have to think about the interactions their customers have with customer representatives of the company and optimize them. There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for this, it’s up to every retailer to determine the right call center strategy and build a plan to execute.
Some companies have been in business for decades and have established customer service models, while others are just getting started and want to break the mold. They all need to satisfy shoppers to stay in business, but their methods are different. Here’s a look at what customers want from their customer support experiences with different retailers.
The Traditional Retailers Customers
Stores like Target attract a lot of customers and business, but differentiating from competitors can be tough because the shopping experience is low-touch. People who come into the store can buy everything on their list without assistance from an employee. The real moment to shine for these stores is during one-off customer assistance incidents.
From a strategy standpoint, these stores need to focus on reacting. Customers will bring issues to them and they need to resolve them quickly and completely to retain those customers. Their contact centers should adopt processes that minimize customer effort. Some of these customers might not exist in the store’s CRM and there might not be a very complete record of their purchases, so agents will likely have to ask lots of questions.
The best way to keep retail customers satisfied is to reduce effort on their part, which means the first agent to answer the phone should be able handle their issue completely. Giving agents more autonomy and more information is one approach to achieving this goal. Another is to have more intelligent routing that directs each inbound contact to the appropriate agent immediately. These customers don’t want to be transferred to multiple different agents, repeating information with each new agent.
The New Wave of Retail Customers
In the past few years, the retail landscape has exploded with new services that allow customers to receive personalized shipments of goods without entering a physical store. These high-touch services usually involve a lot of up-front communication from the customer. They fill out extensive surveys or have one-on-one conversations with an agent to discuss exactly what types of products they want.
These retail customers don’t always desire low-effort interactions — they’re having products shipped directly to them rather than shopping for them, so they’ll take the time to get a truly personalized product. Companies like Stitch Fix are trailblazing processes for these customers with outstanding results. Unlike the big box stores, these agents are primarily proactive. A personal stylist listens to customer preferences, considers their product offerings and sends a bundle of goods that the customer will want. The whole business model is based on customers being satisfied with the choices of these stylists.
These new services have to prove that they’re worth the extra effort from the customers, so agents are expected to have a lot more information at hand when they communicate. They need to have a detailed history of customer activity and might need to contact the customer regularly. It’s a lot of effort on behalf of the company, but the new type of customer prefers this type of hyper-personalized treatment. The best way to keep them loyal is to get them the right product, even if it takes a lot of effort on their end.
Not every business falls into one of these extremes regarding retail customer service. Different companies will attract unique types of customers, but today’s retail landscape is using modern technology to open more doors (and mailboxes) than ever. The real leaders in the retail space will determine the right type of support for their customers and maximize their experience.
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