If all you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail. And when retailers take this sort of one-size-fits-all approach to customer service, then everyone suffers as a result.
Before the explosion of digital channels, from spanning online, mobile and social, the customer service model was simpler for retailers. Call centers were built from the ground up with solutions to help agents provide shopper support with the ability to perform sales transactions, provide product information, or guide the consumer through the returns process. Before masses of consumers flocked to digital channels, retailers were in control of the conversation about the brand.
Today, retailers are no longer in control of the conversation. But most are still operating with the same tools used to deliver the standard customer service processes of the past. But “standard” is no longer satisfactory in the eyes of shopper. Instead of simply “service,” this shopper is looking for an “experience.”
Retail experiences need to be built with the target consumer in mind. For instance, research indicates that 34% of millennials say they’d rather get their teeth cleaned at the dentist than call a customer service line. Needless to say, there’s a gap between the shopper expectations and the average retailer’s ability to meet those same expectations. Businesses need to redefine the customer service experience to make it less of a headache mired in human interaction, process delays and channel inconsistencies and enable both customers and agents to find the right information faster.
Even though digital commerce (mobile, social and e-commerce) is growing at a quicker clip than traditional brick-and-mortar retail, store transactions still constitute the lion’s share of overall retail sales. In fact, many pure play ecommerce retailers, such as Warby Parker and Adore Me are exploring the physical realm with permanent or pop-up locations in order to extend the digital customer experience into the physical realm. The retail store is not going away anytime in the near future — so it’s time for retailers to take a long hard look at the intersection of customer service and store associates. Most store associates are truly at a disadvantage, if they don’t have a 360-degree view of the shopper and her interactions across channels. In fact, according to the 2015 Connected Shoppers Report, almost half of consumers surveyed by Salesforce said it would be helpful if a physical store knew about the online research they did prior to visiting so they could receive better service.
Each customer experience has a ripple effect. In the past, an unsatisfactory customer experience could lead to a decline in shopper share of wallet or worse, individual customer churn. Today, between Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the next social platform looming on the horizon, a brand’s reputation could be at stake. As a result, social customer care has never been more important. Specialty retailer ALEX AND ANI learned that committing to social customer care can reverse a 95% negative customer care sentiment to 85% positive in less than a 12 month period.
High performing service teams are four times more likely than underperformers to have outstanding capabilities in mobile customer service and social sense and response rates across all channels. To learn more about why these customer service features matter more than ever here in retail, check out this recent e-book, “The Best of Both Worlds: Why Omnichannel Retailers are Winning,” from Salesforce Service Cloud.