The customer-centric blog of Linc Global
The Internet has not only increased the importance of customer service as a differentiator; it’s changed altogether the way shoppers and brands interact. Whereas in the past sellers relied on mass communication to communicate offers and announce new products, with a single “800” number -- or even simply a mailing address -- available to field customer service inquiries, now customers expect to have an active voice in conversations with brands.
Over nearly three decades, Internet shopping has ushered in many changes to the retail landscape -- one of which is that a growing number of product categories are now commoditized. Whereas previously, shoppers wishing to comparison shop had to travel physically to other stores, or seek out new catalogs, now it’s easy to find multiple sources for even hard-to-find or niche products, all with a tap on a smartphone or click of a mouse..
Loyalty rewards programs that give shoppers perks based on spending are widespread and popular. More than 7 in 10 consumers belong to at least one loyalty rewards club, according to Forrester Research, with most participants holding an average of nine memberships.
Merchants have long known that transactional emails -- messages related strictly to fulfillment of existing orders, as opposed to promotions -- can be effective tools for encouraging re-engagement, and often drive higher open and click-through rates than routine marketing campaigns. Now, instantaneous chat conversations and SMS alerts powered by machine learning represent the next generation of transactional communication, and present new opportunities for customers to interact further with brands.
The bar is moving higher for what constitutes standout service. Self-service content and smooth interactions across touchpoints are now considered must-haves for merchants; with them, customers’ expectations are fulfilled, while without them, brands risk falling behind.
With a plethora of channels demanding attention, aggressive revenue targets to hit and customer expectations growing by the day, why should retailers invest resources in Live Chat (Webchat) vs. any of the other customer engagement priorities requiring focus and budget dollars?
As shoppers increasingly rely on digital assistants such as Siri and Alexa, and as merchants use AI to deliver personalized service for routine inquiries, synchronizing the work of automated tools and live human agents is more important than ever.
Stellar holiday customer experience now requires that merchants orchestrate offerings across multiple boundaries. Not only must merchants follow shoppers as they move from touchpoint to touchpoint; they must also coordinate customer interactions with both automated systems and human representatives to ensure consistent, effective communication.
As merchants prepare to navigate holiday sales spikes, they should focus on proactive triage. By addressing common questions and straightforward topics before shoppers dial the call center, sellers save their valuable in-person live help resources for the most complex cases.