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How retailers are reshaping their CX strategies

by Keith Gait MBA CCXP, CEO at The Customer Experience Foundation (www.cxfo.org) Retailers are entering a new phase of technological innovation with AI and machine learning… View Article

RETAIL SOLUTIONS UK NEWS

How retailers are reshaping their CX strategies

by Keith Gait MBA CCXP, CEO at The Customer Experience Foundation (www.cxfo.org)

Retailers are entering a new phase of technological innovation with AI and machine learning at its core.  There are many challenges facing retail leaders as they look to shape their CX strategies with the emerging technology.

Which? found trust in supermarkets has reached a 10-year low and with the CBI reporting retail activity had fallen for a fourth month in a row in August to stand at its lowest level since March 2021, the technology could not have come at a better time, but with no proven blueprint for success, this is a critical time for the sector.

Strategies to meet high customer expectation

Retail forecasts for these organisations can make or break the financial year. For ‘digital first’ retailers it isn’t just about telephony. Their Contact Centres are more about failure demand and helping more customers to self-serve.

The financial organisations who work very closely with the retailers are working together to feed into all the planning programmes and event calendars. This ensures a coordinated approach to the Golden Quarter, including looking at prior years’ activities and current trends.

They do not measure call handling times as there is more of a focus on first call resolution than resolving issues quickly. For other organisations, Digital Co-ordinators (rather than the traditional contact centre agent role) are helping customers to self-serve, which will in time reduce the number of calls coming in and the calls they do have are the high-quality conversations which need to be had where self-serve isn’t an option.

Many customers are more than happy to self-serve, but there are still some who need human interaction, whether it be for the issue or the generational demographic.

There must be robust systems in place for the peak Golden Quarter. There is lots of planning done in advance to ensure a seamless process. It is all about understanding the upcoming trends and putting the right number of people in place -whether that be on the shop floor, the Contact Centres, or the back office.

Outsourcing CX strategies

For BPO organisations who work in the retail sector, it is on an enormous scale with multiple brands involved. This brings with it both benefits and challenges. BPO organisations can achieve cost savings for retail brands by leveraging economies of scale, centralised operations, strong technology offering, and access to a skilled and cost-effective workforce, often in lower-cost regions.

They can also quickly adapt to fluctuating workloads and seasonal demands in the retail sector and expand or contract their operations as needed. BPOs typically have expertise in various retail functions, such as customer service, sales, order processing, and data analysis. They bring specialised skills and knowledge to the table. Different retailers have different challenges and different times. Add into that, different technologies, or legacy systems. BPOs have the ability to move agents into different campaigns quickly and efficiently depending on demand.

New Initiatives and Learnings being adopted

Brands have really ramped up their peak planning strategies with things like annual leave limitations put in place to ensure maximum staffing levels. Where brands have been using multiple providers, this made things difficult and costly, so they have moved to only having a single provider.

Any changes made are now done often with a test and learn methodology, and by asking the advisors and agents what is and isn’t working for them and for customers. Brands also need to have back up plans in place such as outsourcers available to help increase staff levels.

One brand has launched an internal helpdesk to help with enquiries, and for another brand, when there was a transition of technology, automation rates went down. They were overprepared but that is a good place to be.

When it comes to employees within the Contact Centres and CX teams, all brands agreed that it very much depends on the person and how they see their job role, and that individuals can often be the ‘secret stars’. Couriers are part of the customer experience, and they need to advocate for the brand for a full end to end user experience. This means brands must choose their couriers wisely.

Another area of discussion that came up was the CX teams continual battle with the CFOs and at CXFO we see this across all sectors, not just retail. Their decisions can affect so many elements. They look at where cost cuts can be made, but they can sometimes miss the point of where you can cut costs which isn’t always in the most obvious place. For example, investing in staff and their training rather than reducing staff levels can, in the long run, help with attrition. They are seeing it all in the wrong way and measuring the wrong things. The focus needs to go back to CX.

Successful AI implementation

With any considerations for technology, no matter how big or small, you need to always think about how it is purposed and how it will affect your CX strategy and your Contact Centre. It doesn’t have to replace agents, but it can empower them and enhance their experience.

What it can’t be is the new piece of tech that the CFO puts in place to reduce staff costs. Especially with little or no full research into it. Any tech integration should be done on a trial basis too with a soft test and learn approach in place and do this testing with low value and low volume contacts so as not to cause too much disruption to the business.

Implementing any technology in the CX Contact Centre space is a strategic decision that requires careful consideration to ensure its success.

For more insights and points to consider please download the Retail CX report here

For more information on CXFO please visit www.cxfo.org

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