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Future-Proofing Retail in 2021: 3 Steps to Success

No, it’s not your vision — the lines between pre- and post-sales experiences have completely blurred, accelerated by the rapid shift to online shopping over the past year. New research shows that as customers become more comfortable shopping online, they expect more from companies. These heightened expectations have prompted retailers to create a holistic customer experience strategy that is intentional end-to-end. By investing their digital presence, brands can set a new gold standard that turns a one-time customer into a VIP member.

1. Anticipate and adjust to customer expectations

Research has shown that after just one bad brand experience online, 50% of people are willing to switch to a competitor — and can easily do so by clicking the “new tab” button. Today’s customers spend more time online and have access to many options when choosing which retailer best suits their needs. With this added pressure, retailers need to ensure their online storefront has what it needs to extend beyond the buyer’s journey and seamlessly continue into the customer journey.

More online shoppers means more orders and questions, but that doesn’t have to mean less sleep for customer support teams. Retailers can provide around-the-clock assistance with help from chatbots. When a customer visits a brand’s website, they can easily message a bot for an instant answer or be prompted to check out more information on the FAQ page. These self-service offerings can contribute to building a lasting customer relationship — in fact, 75% of shoppers are willing to spend more with companies that offer good CX.

This end-to-end approach requires alignment across an organization — marketing, product, sales, support and customer success — where all teams leverage data and insights to personalize every single touchpoint. Additionally, retailers need to make sure they are connecting all of these engagements across channels so the conversation is contextualized and continuous when help is needed from different departments.

2. Meet customers where they are — messaging

Messaging is a popular way to communicate in our personal lives, and customers now demand the same ease and convenience when communicating with companies. Recent data shows that one in five people under 40 have started using social messaging or chat for the first time, with chat methods now preferred on almost equal footing to in-store help.

Retailers can use messaging to have continuous and personalized conversations whether customers want to text, chat on their computer, reach out over WhatsApp, Instagram and more. These digital channels also expand the ability for brands to reach a new base of customers who can shop digitally. Facebook reported that more than 175 million people message a WhatsApp Business account every day, with Facebook research showing that people prefer to engage with businesses through messaging directly to get the help they need.

The more channels that a brand has to communicate with their customers, the more eyes and ears are needed to know what is going on. Companies must enable their customer-facing teams to have visibility into these engagements across different channels so that when a customer starts messaging on a website, and then switches to mobile, the agent has the needed context when resolving the issue: “We made the requested change to order #1234 and it will arrive in a few days.” Message delivered!

3. Provide personalized interactions and prepare to scale

Once retailers have a strong CX-led digital presence that includes modern messaging channels, it is time to get personal. According to new research, three-quarters of customers expect customized online experiences such as preferred contact method, priority based on status or account type, and recommendations based on past purchase history.

By shedding light on the data hiding in plain sight, retailers can deliver curated experiences while customers shop. For example, giving a VIP customer suggestions on new products that are similar to other favorite items. Alternatively, providing a new customer a discount for their first purchase. By using data-driven insights to build frictionless and more personalized customer experiences, customers will be more likely to come back and engage with your brand over a competitor.

The entire customer journey becomes more and more important as businesses increasingly depend on relationships rather than transactions. Retailers that elevate their CX strategy to include self-service options, modern messaging channels and personalized interactions will not only create richer online experiences, but build long-term loyalty with customers. However, the work is not done — retailers must remain flexible and adapt as the world continues to change.

Teresa Anania is VP of customer success at Zendesk

Copyright Networld Media Group DBA Networld Alliance, LLC Mar 29, 2021

 


 

This article was written by Teresa Anania from Retail Customer Experience. News Features and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.

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