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Retail’s new foot fall: The Customer Service Team

Guest Post by William Carson, Ascensos: COVID is with us now and into the foreseeable. Retailers with an active or soon to be active ecommerce solution… View Article

RETAIL SOLUTIONS

Retail’s new foot fall: The Customer Service Team

Guest Post by William Carson, Ascensos: COVID is with us now and into the foreseeable. Retailers with an active or soon to be active ecommerce solution and strategy can best support their ROI by running a great customer management operation handling voice and non-voice channels. Supported by dynamic, analytical insights and operationalized sales through service initiatives, the customer management team effectively becomes the new ‘foot fall’ for the retail sector.

As perfect is the enemy of good, and procrastination is the enemy of accomplishment, right now we’re beginning to see how pessimism, particularly in the main stream media, will fast become the enemy of vision, growth and success. The opener in an FT article this week ran: ‘With the economy in recession, government borrowing and debt piling higher and unemployment set to rise sharply, the journey no longer looks so enticing.’ While the article dealt primarily with the issue of ‘exceptionalism’ in British politics, it also painted a grim landscape for the economy. This week was also the first-time panelists on webinars were talking openly about recession – as a reality, not a possibility.

And yet businesses like at Ascensos in CX BPO are busy. Ecommerce clients in retail are benefitting from customers’ inability to get out on the high street and into shopping malls. This has led to increased volumes in customer contact across all contact channels and already we are reuniting our fabulous staff with their teams – albeit remotely. Retail brands’ internal contact centres too are also experiencing an uplift in customer business and along with increased productivity, lower absenteeism and sickness with W@H, there is clearly a disconnect between the headline writers and readers.

This week Aldi announced its partnership with Deliveroo which speaks loudly of innovation and seizing the moment. It’s a great example of what one Everest Group analyst referred to recently in a webinar as a shift away from the ‘not invented here’ and ‘best in breed’ towards ‘fit for purpose’ and partnership. Deliveroo customers will be able to select Aldi products including bread, milk, fruit and vegetables, which will be packed by the grocer’s staff in stores. Deliveroo’s riders will then deliver the items to customers’ homes in half an hour or so. It’s the perfect solution to that old conundrum – there are no corner shops on a round-about which are built into many new-build estates in the UK these days.

Meanwhile online retail association IMRG has reported that multichannel retailers have seen online sales grow 35% during the period, compared to a more modest 8.3% increase for pure-play retailers. The online retail index showed online sales surged in April to a 10-year high, up 23.8% year on year.

There is a danger with this unexpected success to simply touch your rabbit foot, expel a great big sigh of relief and get back to work in whatever form of normal you can. But that’s missing the point. The global pandemic is driving new consumer behaviours. This is the time to truly engage CX analytics and insights as drivers for growth that in turn drive customer contact programmes to deliver effective sales through service initiatives. According to the latest Global Webindex report on consumer behaviour, retail customers are seeking experiences as much as products with 57% stating they would ‘rather spend money on a unique experience than a status brand’ and 36% would ‘buy a product/service simply for the experience of being part of the community built around it.’ The report was compiled pre-covid and a great deal of the ’unique experiences’ referred to were in-store, harnessing VR/AR, smart mirror technology and customer labs. With stores remaining closed, an unknown customer appetite for returning to the high street, and social distancing measures potentially limiting the impact of ‘the in-store experience’ for some time, the customer management team provides a real opportunity for customers to experience the brands voice and story in a direct and ‘unique’ manner.

Sales are central to the customer experience. Rather than discover a great deal post-sale, when purchasing an individual item, brand advocates as customers, would rather hear about an accessory or complementary purchase from an experienced advisor who has just helped a previous customer place an order for similar products or services. At scale, predictive analytics are key to support advisors with qualified suggestions for incremental sales i.e. those item ‘bundles’ or clusters that have the most propensity to be taken up by the customer as the ‘next best offer’ or action. Solutions are available now to achieve this, linking customer personas, stock, purchasing behaviour and likelihood of a successful sale.

As all of us head into the unknown for the remainder or 2020, what we do know has to play a greater part in our strategic planning and tactical approach to retaining and developing customers. We operate in a data-rich economy, where digital and automation solutions can feed real time, ‘right first time’ customer contact scenarios to customer management teams on live chat, on email and on the phones. Retail has proven more resilient than many imagined this year, the retail apocalypse has happened elsewhere, indeed the pandemic, regrettable as it is, has re-calibrated the mighty and the ‘just starting out’ brands through their common limitations on opportunities to engage with customers. The visionary customer management centre and empowered teams built around the interoperability of agile ‘humanodigital’ sales through service solutions will be a gamechanger.

Guest Post: William Carson – Ascensos

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