How Communication Service Providers Can Reimagine the Retail Experience

Telco customer experience management in retail is more important than ever. This guide will show you the way.

 
 
 
 

Communications service providers (CSPs) are navigating a new set of subscriber buying habits in retail.

Consumers who used to price-compare service plans and shop for a new device in-store are now researching new smartphone models online and asking friends for recommendations on social media. They’re also interacting with CSPs via chatbots and apps to ask questions and complete buying journeys. And those habits are here to stay. In fact, according to a 2021 international study, only 39% prefer to make a purchase in-store.

There’s another sea change to contend with, too: 56% of all generations are somewhat or very likely to switch from their current provider to a tech company like Google. Amid these stiff competitive headwinds, CSPs must reimagine the retail experience. They must create convenient omni-channel buying journeys, leverage the right digital tools, and use artificial intelligence (AI) to personalize offers and surface actionable insights.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to:

  • Reimagine retail with omni-channel experiences
  • Drive intelligent telco customer experience management
  • Turn up the dial on digital with artificial intelligence (AI)

Chapter 1: Reimagine retail with omni-channel experiences

Put the focus on convenient, customer-centric engagements

Even though 96% of customers say they’ll return to in-person shopping, 58% predict they’ll do more online shopping, too. And CSPs are capturing their fair share of consumer spending. In fact, sales of smartphones and subscription services are surging because of pent-up demand, sustained remote work, improved consumer outlook, and strong growth globally. CSPs already recognize the value of ecommerce: 54% of CSP leaders say they’re increasing investments in digital versus in-store experiences.
With today’s consumers turning to an average of nine channels to browse inventory, seek advice, and make purchases, CSPs have an opportunity to improve shopping experiences to meet evolving customer preferences. Here’s how:

Streamline the subscriber journey

Seventy-six percent of customers expect consistent interactions across departments. With Salesforce Customer 360 embedded in your customer relationship management (CRM) platform, you can deliver connected customer experiences by linking sales, service, and marketing. Composable commerce services and APIs embed unique digital experiences across the customer journey to meet subscribers where they are. Digital quoting makes buying new products and services faster and easier.
 

Build powerful retail experiences with a communications CRM from Salesforce.

Analyze consumer sentiment

Use listening tools to gather insights, analyze behaviors, and identify trends on feedback channels like social media. Create content for audience segments based on demographics, purchase history, and channel preferences. Use A/B testing to test and scale special offers and creative assets.

Connect with customers using virtual consultations

Customers want to test out devices before making a commitment. Virtual consultations featuring augmented reality can fill the gap for people who prefer shopping from home, and they provide a great way for associates to demo phones, explain features, and talk through options in an immersive way. With Live Shopping, customers can tune in to social channels, interact with in-store associates as they demo products, and complete the purchase right then and there.

Enable in-store appointment scheduling

Give customers who prefer physical interactions the option to book an in-store appointment with a clear purpose — to deal with an account issue, upgrade a phone, or add a new line. Tools like Salesforce Scheduler allow associates to prepare for each customer and streamline visits.

Create order and fulfillment flexibility

Flexibility and convenience have never been more important to shoppers. In fact, 83% of customers expect flexible shipping and fulfillment options, such as buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS). An order management system (OMS) automates fulfillment on any channel, whether digital or in store, and enables CSPs to turn retail stores into distribution centers so they can ship products from stores to customers.
With an OMS, you can let customers know when it’s time for pickup, share store location details, and include instructions on what identification they’ll need (for example, a government-issued photo ID). An OMS also empowers customers to initiate exchanges and returns or track orders without having to call a customer service rep.
 

83% of customers expect flexible shipping and fulfillment options, such as buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS).

State of the Connected Customer,” Salesforce, October 2020.

Enable frictionless (and contactless) payments

Prevent frustrating checkout experiences by welcoming new payment types and streamlining processes. Apple Pay and tap-and-go technology enable fast, contactless payments. Statement billing simplifies omni-channel processes. In-store, if a customer needs to sign terms/conditions, have them do it from their device.

Offer self-service options

Seventy-eight percent of customers increased their use of self-service options during the pandemic. Create landing pages with content like frequently asked questions and knowledge articles that cover common how-to topics. Add a customer portal with automated capabilities so processes like initiating a return are fast and intuitive.

Re-create one-on-one subscriber experiences

Personalize selling experiences with conversational commerce. Interact with customers on social channels to answer product and service questions or help them complete their orders using the “Order on Behalf Of” feature. Use digital to bring customers into the store to finish transactions and provide consistent and connected experiences, regardless of where they choose to shop.
 

Also consider:

  • Installing lockers at your store for customers to grab their orders and go
  • Designating some stores for inventory overflow and pickup-only (“dark stores”) and stocking those stores with popular SKUs for that specific geography
  • Encouraging additional browsing, even at curbside, with product vending machines or digital screens with more merchandise
  • Transferring products between stores using a local delivery service
  • Activating delivery options from local stores with fast delivery providers

Reward your best customers — and partners

Loyalty programs, rebate management, and channel incentive management are powerful tools that improve the customer experience and differentiate your brand. In order to identify and reward your highest-value customers, combine your loyalty data with your customer profiles. This will help you personalize offers, like a custom product bundle or priority service. It will also give you a competitive advantage — one in five customers said bundled service would make them consider changing their home internet provider.
 
 
 
 

Chapter 2: Drive intelligent telco customer experience management

Empower employees with the right digital tools and technology.
 

See how to:

  • Deliver excellent customer experiences across every shopping journey
  • Gain instant visibility into shopper preferences across the company
  • Upskill employees and boost revenue with cross-training
 
 

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