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Creating remarkable customer experience by understanding customer intent

[ Insight ] By Katie Routledge, Manager, Retail Reply The retail industry has undergone major disruptions in recent years, with the pandemic accelerating the shift to… View Article


Creating remarkable customer experience by understanding customer intent

[ Insight ] By Katie Routledge, Manager, Retail Reply

The retail industry has undergone major disruptions in recent years, with the pandemic accelerating the shift to ecommerce and forcing retailers to experiment with new digital services. This digital shift has resulted in a drive to improve the customer service experience in a bid to unlock revenue opportunities, improve efficiency and increase customer loyalty.  As the industry emerges from the pandemic, retailers are faced with new pressures from growing inflation, economic uncertainty, and unpredictable changes to consumer behaviour. In this challenging environment, making the most of each customer interaction is crucial for maintaining competitive advantage.

But what are the most effective strategies for building a remarkable, digitally enabled customer care experience that enables retailers to maximise each customer interaction? Our approach at Retail Reply focuses on finding actionable insights around customer intent to deliver on key strategic priorities.

Harmonising customer intent

Customer intent is key for understanding the reason for each customer’s inbound interaction with the business and essential for identifying the best course of action. Understanding customer intent can also help retailers identify the most common customer issues and compare performance across channels, business units and markets. These data driven insights are useful for identifying opportunities to improve the customer experience, increase efficiencies and reduce costs.

Strategies for Intent Steering

The next step in the process is the prioritisation of customer intent based on the value irritant matrix framework. The framework allows retailers to understand the value of the intent to the business and to the customer and to determine the best course of action to minimise any friction or irritation in resolving their query. There are four strategies for achieving this: digitising the intent, eliminating the root cause, simplifying the customer contact reason or leveraging the interaction.

The first strategy is most commonly used to digitise the handling of high-volume customer enquiries about recurring issues. In this scenario customers are often directed to a self-service portal where they can get their questions answered via FAQs or chatbots, for example.

Another useful strategy is eliminating the root cause for a customer query. This approach enables retailers to prevent common problems that may occur in the customer relationship cycle by addressing the root cause of the problem. A typical example of such issue is getting customer orders wrong. Instead of waiting for customers to come back to them with complaints about incorrect deliveries, retailers can identify the most common reasons for this issue and work to address them to eliminate the customer intent.

However, regardless of how much we try to eliminate such pain points, it’s impossible to prevent every potential mistake or external issue that can impact the customer experience. This is particularly true when it comes to customer intents which are very valuable for the business but can cause irritation to customers such as making a payment, signing up with a new service or registering for a loyalty programme. In these scenarios the most effective strategy for mitigating friction is simplifying the customer interaction. Being able to recognise recurring customers when they come back to the website and offering an easy sign-in process and tailored product recommendations is one example of this strategy in action. The key is to minimise the friction of the customer journey.

And lastly, it’s important to acknowledge that not all customer queries can be resolved through process efficiencies, digitization, and automation. Customer intents which represent high complexity and high value journeys such as sales issues should be funnelled to expert human agents to leverage’ the customer interaction. This will result in a more efficient service, improved customer experience, and an opportunity for upselling and revenue generation.

Tapping into the power of data

Tapping into the data insight generated by intent steering and value analysis is essential for making the most of customer interactions. To make these insights easily accessible, retailers should consider visualising intent level performance in real-time. This will allow them to steer volume away from the contact centre, while reducing cost to serve and improving the customer experience. By using actionable data insights more strategically, retailers can better evaluate the customer journey across different channels and map strategic initiatives and investments to drive step change improvements in cost reduction and customer experience across their customer base. Taking this a step further, businesses can collect and share best practices and capabilities across business units, markets, or geographies to drive service improvements and efficiencies on a larger scale.

The disruptions which have shaken up the retail industry in recent years present a challenge but also an opportunity for retailers. By better understanding customer intents and identifying the most effective strategies to address them, retailers will be able to create a remarkable digitally enabled customer care experience that drives customer engagement and future-proves their business

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