For shoppers, the path to purchase is no longer as simple as clicks to bricks or bricks to clicks. “Clicks to bricks and back” may be a more accurate description. As the 2017 Retail Dive Consumer Survey showed, shoppers are embracing an omnichannel customer experience. Retail Dive also found that more than 65 percent of consumers research products online before heading to a store, while over 55 percent say they visit stores before buying.
Because every buyer’s path is different – and can change from day to day and place to place – retailers must integrate digital and deliver a seamless omnichannel customer experience to compete more effectively against the eCommerce giants. Although merchants might hesitate to deploy a communications solution capable of handling such complex interactions, today’s omnichannel contact center solutions have leveled the playing field.
Here are just a few of the ways retailers can leverage technology to enhance the omnichannel customer experience.
In every channel, have them at “hello.” Consumers want a frictionless experience and expect to easily connect with retailers in any medium, whether it’s voice, email, SMS, web chat, social media or a website. That means retailers must excel at communicating in all channels. To do so, they need to provide the customer support team with the right tools. Agents should be able to handle interactions across all channels from a single interface and move conversations seamlessly from social media to web chat to phone.
Don’t forget the phone. Digital experiences may be all the rage, but what customers actually want is the right mix of technology and human interaction. They may initiate contact on a website or in the store, but at some point in their journey they’ll prefer to talk to someone on the phone. Omnichannel contact center solutions provide agents with the tools they need to switch seamlessly between channels. Meanwhile, managers can use call center data to accurately predict the right level of resources to keep the operation running at peak efficiency, thus enhancing the customer experience.
Customize for a caller of one. Personalization is one of the top seven trends for 2018, Retail Dive says. Connecting with consumers in every channel, then, is just the first step toward creating a stellar omnichannel customer experience. Retailers should also personalize each interaction, which is why it’s critical to deploy an omnichannel contact center solution with the ability to integrate your CRM and your phone system. With all the relevant customer information at their fingertips, your agents can deliver a unique personal experience to each and every consumer, no matter what channel they use to connect.
Prepare for the robots. Sometimes the modern customer experience may not even involve a human on either end of the connection. With the Internet of Things, communications between consumer and retailer can be automated and simplified. Integrating this channel into your contact center will future-proof your business.
Streamline supply chain communications. Delivering a superior omnichannel customer experience is only possible if there are no kinks in communications along the supply chain. With API integration, your communications solution can be more tightly connected to your suppliers, distributors and other vendors, so you’ll know instantly if orders are delivered on time and how inventory is impacted, long before the customer experience is affected.
Simplify the experience. Consumers highly value fast, reliable service. By automating routine communications and offering self-service options, retailers can devote agent time to more complex issues while also delivering stellar service. Chatbots can manage simple tasks, such as updating order information or letting customers know whether a product is in stock before they drive to the store.
Create magic. Retailers can surprise and delight customers by anticipating their needs before consumers are even aware they have them. Analysis of data – both real-time and historical – can help retailers be proactive about communicating with customers about reorders, related products and new services.
The ability to create a stellar customer experience, seamlessly across all channels, not only lifts sales but also creates a positive impact on the bottom line. What’s more, retailers that embrace omnichannel communications will compete more effectively with eCommerce giants and thrive as the retail industry transforms.