The Customer Is The Channel

The customer-centric blog of Linc Global

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How to Evaluate an Automated Shopper Assistance Platform

Cultivating potential loyal customers over one-time purchasers is the key driver for reimagining the retail CX relationship between buyer and brand. Increasing the number of customers and retaining them requires rethinking the customer journey from something linear and conversion-focused to a more holistic model of engagement and two-way conversation with the customer and having that customer’s expectations and channel preferences drive your interactions with them. Customer care AI isn’t a magic bullet that solves all of your CX challenges, but the right AI deployed strategically is a powerful tool for creating and sustaining profitable customer relationships.

So how do you choose the right customer care automation platform to help your brand achieve these ends?

Think beyond post-purchase

One of the biggest mistakes we see retailers make is failing to think about post-purchase as one state in a larger, holistic relationship with their customer. Instead, retailers treat post-purchase as a stand-alone set of potential interactions that they can optimize in a vacuum. Unfortunately for these brands, simply optimizing individual post-purchase touchpoints and attempting to string them together doesn’t get to the heart of meeting evolving customer expectations and doesn’t build the customer loyalty that leads to greater profitability.

Key questions to ask when investing in a Customer Care Automation platform

While we hope we've made a clear case for how and why automated shopper assistants can create a distinct CX advantage and help retailers cut costs and increase customer lifetime value, not every customer care automation platform is created equal. As you embark on the search for a platform that meets your brand's needs, here are a few key questions to ask about potential solutions:

Does it integrate with and enrich your current CX tech stack?

For an automated assistant to be truly effective, it needs to be connected to the specific tools it can use to solve a customer’s problem in the moment. 

Can you easily add new skills or functionalities?

As new customer engagement channels emerge (just wait for VR to truly catch on!) and emerging ones gain more traction, you should easily be able to add additional skills and functionalities to your customer care automation platform, depending on your brand's particular needs and the behaviors and preferences of your customers. 

What does the automated assistant training process look like?

Lack of appropriate pre-deployment training is one of the key sources of failure for brands that rushed too quickly to automated assistance technology without doing their homework. 

What does the vendor’s roadmap look like?

Once we get used to a new, technology-enabled way of being, backtracking comes to feel strange and painful. With behemoths like Amazon continuing to shape expectations around price, inventory availability, shipping speed, and simple reorders and returns, customers' already lofty expectations for brands aren't likely to relax or regress anytime soon. You want to work with a vendor who is constantly refining and enhancing their solution to meet evolving customer expectations–smarter, more intuitive AI, more robust and useful integrations, additional skills and functionalities to cover emerging channels. 

What is the payback period and where is ROI coming from?

A best-in-class automated shopper assistance platform should help you cut customer care costs, reduce returns and lead to increased profitability by facilitating cross-selling, upselling and automatic reordering, so don't be shy about pressing vendors for benchmarks based on previous implementations. 

You can learn more about the customer experience and how automating the shopper experience can engage your customers at every touchpoint by exploring Linc’s platform and solutions pages. Or take a look at how leading brands like Lamps Plus, JustFab.com and others are using an automated shopper experience platform as part of their customer experience strategies in their businesses today, in our resources page

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