Chapter 3: Create lifelong customers with connected and consistent service.

It’s never been more important for retailers to deliver excellent customer service.

In a challenging economy, customers shop less and from fewer retailers. The good news is that companies can still build customer relationships even when money is tight for consumers. Retailers can make this happen with excellent customer service: In fact, 91% of consumers say that good customer service makes them more likely to make another purchase. That’s essential, considering it only takes three bad experiences for 80% of shoppers to abandon a retailer forever.
80% of shoppers will abandon a retailer after three bad experiences.
The Connected Shoppers Report, Fourth Edition, Salesforce, November 2021
It’s inevitable that higher shopper volume at the holidays will lead to more customer service interactions. By empowering agents with the right data, you can quickly and accurately answer questions about product availability, delivery status, and rewards status. You can also connect voice, digital, and physical experiences so your employees can deliver consistent interactions, no matter how your customers choose to reach out. And when service agents have the information they need to satisfy customers, they are more likely to be satisfied themselves.

Prepare your service team.

Demand forecasts based on data and analytics help you prepare your service team for changes in shopper behaviour and activity. But that’s just the start: From inquiries about Cyber Monday promotions to questions about extended shopping hours, the peak shopping season is packed with special offers and exceptions that can strain even the most experienced employee’s patience. As the holidays approach, give your agents, associates, and seasonal workers the right tools so they can answer questions about new products, exclusive offers, return policies for holiday purchases, and more.
“The customer doesn’t think about just needing service. They think about their entire experience with Sonos. So why wouldn’t we?”
– Ruth Sleeter, CIO, Sonos

Empower agents with commerce and service data.

The holiday season is notorious for increases in service interaction volume. With 79% of service professionals saying it’s impossible to provide great service without a complete view of customer profiles and interactions, the pressure is on retailers to connect service across every touchpoint. This is especially important as customers embrace digital channels: In fact, the number of customers who prefer to engage on organisations’ dedicated mobile apps is now almost equal to those who want to be met on messenger apps they use in their personal lives, like WeChat and Google Hangout.
79% of service professionals say it’s impossible to provide great service without a complete view of customer interactions.
State of Service, Fourth Edition, Salesforce, 2020
Conversational commerce enables shoppers to engage and transact with retailers within these messaging channels. Commerce and service instances connect so that agents access recent orders and shopper preferences. They double as associates and stylists by delivering personalised experiences and cross-selling and upselling additional items. In addition to offering AI-powered chatbots, cross-train sales and service associates so they can quickly answer questions about loyalty status, past orders, and delivery timing.

Keep self-service channels up to date.

Customers love self-service for its speed and convenience, whether it’s the holiday season or not. In fact, not only have 65% of customers used a self-service channel in the past two years, 66% of Millennials prefer it for simple cases.
65% of customers used a self-service channel in the past two years.
State of the Connected Customer, Fifth Edition, Salesforce, 2022

So, what are key ways that retailers plan to automate service during the holidays?

  • Radical transparency: 74% of customers say communicating honestly and transparently is more important now than before the pandemic. So, make over-communication a habit. Be clear about delivery timelines, backorders, and delays, before and after the purchase. Keep customers updated by providing full visibility into their order status via SMS.
  • Faster answers: A landing page with answers to frequently asked questions. Ensure you update this page with holiday-specific guidance, such as extended timelines for returns.
  • Guided service on digital channels: Connect self-service to chat or guided workflows so customers can do things like create return labels quickly. Have an easy way to direct shoppers to your help centre for more information. The goal: Keep interactions simple, intuitive, and fast.
  • Automation: Add a chatbot with the option to transfer to live support. AI-powered chatbots empower customers to get simple questions answered quickly. Ensure live chat is readily available on all website pages and make it easy for customers to find other service options, like voice.

Turn phone calls into connected service experiences.

Self-service, live chat, and even text are growing in popularity, but they’re not the channel of choice when a customer has a complicated question or complaint: 76% of service agents say that the phone is the preferred channel for complex issues. But resolving customer complaints quickly (and in one phone call) is a challenge for employees. In fact, 63% of agents say it’s difficult to balance speed and quality.
“There's a time in a customer's journey where they might run into an issue or a problem, and that is a defining moment where you can either rise to the occasion and help them or not. If you can address it, you raise the value in the mind of the customer.”
– Patrick Spence, CEO, Sonos

By uniting sales, service, marketing, and commerce data on one platform, retailers can:

  • Improve speed-to-serve: With a complete record of customer communications, interactions, and transactions on one screen, agents won’t have to toggle back and forth between systems. That’s essential during the holidays, when higher call volume puts a premium on efficiency.
  • Empower agents with greater visibility: 83% of customers expect to solve complex problems by speaking to one person. With access to data across departments, agents can customise complicated answers to customer questions — like how to redeem loyalty points on an email offer while arranging in-store pickup at the same time.
  • Anticipate customer needs: No one likes repeating themselves. With a complete view of interactions, agents can anticipate questions and answer them quickly.
  • Automate routine tasks: Turn tasks such as creating and emailing a prepaid return into a one-step process.

Next: Chapter 4: Digitise the physical store.

Multi-channel customer journeys mean retailers need to connect physical and digital experiences.
See how to:
  • Enable associates to serve online customers as soon as they enter the store
  • Deliver new payment options in the store
  • Keep employees happy and engaged (and grow revenue at the same time)

More Resources

Research and Report
2022 European Grocery Consumer Report.

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