3 Ways to Increase Customer Loyalty With an Omnichannel CX Strategy
Over the last few years, the retail industry has experienced an unprecedented transformation. Nordstrom is successfully opening inventory-free locations, Nordstrom Local, where customers can pick up online orders, make returns, have clothing altered, and view custom collections curated by Nordstrom stylists. Meanwhile, Amazon.com is opening stores and experimenting with the elimination of checkout lines. This expansion of digital self-service options paired with the reimagination of physical retail is all about trying to create the ideal customer experience in order to increase customer loyalty.
To accomplish this, 69 percent of retail executives plan to increase their investment in digital transformation strategies within the next year, bringing new tools and technology to the industry. The purpose of these investments is to satisfy the needs of customers at their touchpoint of choice. However, many retailers are failing to move forward within the context of an end-to-end omnichannel strategy that supports guiding customers along a personalized path toward an ultimate purchase.
Without this guidance, more choice can simply lead to more confusion, putting the customer relationship at risk. A report from Calabrio, The Danger of Digital: Why digital self-service without true omnichannel strategies risks the entire customer experience, documents this challenge. The report reveals that while 93 percent of marketers and customer experience leaders believe delivering a seamless, quality experience is important, only 45 percent think they’re very effective at doing so.
For retailers exploring how to increase customer loyalty by successfully guiding their customers through the new blend of digital and physical communication channels, here are three vital characteristics to include in their omnichannel strategies:
Simply adding a self-service option is never enough. Fifty-eight percent of retailers say they have a simple, set process for easily adding a new channel. However, if they do so without first understanding how a new self-service channel will impact the customer journey, it can actually disconnect customers from the other channels, creating a roadblock instead of an easy path to a better relationship.
By mapping the complete customer journey across every touchpoint, retailers can determine which routes customers prefer and what the obstacles may be. For example, a customer may want to explore items on your website, chat online regarding specific features or options, then visit a retail location to view the product and complete the purchase. Only by optimizing every step of the omnichannel journey can a retailer ensure customers are able to access the right resources at the right times to make their decision easier.
Empower the Contact Center
Contact-center agents act as the frontline of communication for many businesses, and they can make or break the customer experience. Digital self-service and chatbots may be a boon to customers, but their existence means that contact-center agents must be able to quickly and easily respond to questions across multiple channels. However, not all agents are equally effective at responding in all channels. Some may have great verbal skills while others may be particularly adept at communicating via text and using nonverbal cues to add emotional content to their messages. For many companies, this means re-evaluating their existing training practices and personalizing them to fit agent needs.
Research shows only 55 percent of companies have modified their hiring and training practices, and only 59 percent are using specialized or skills-based customer service agents for specific channels. Without evolving these practices, customers won’t be able to enjoy an optimal experience in each channel. Hiring and training agents based on the demands of each communication channel ensures a better customer experience. This in turn translates into improved agent success rates and more accurate scheduling forecasts for the contact center, ensuring customers will always have fast access to the help they need.
Hear That? It’s the Voice of the Customer
One of the biggest mistakes retailers make is unconsciously acting as if digital self-service means they no longer have to listen to customers. In fact, it’s more important than ever. Yet only 56 percent of retailers are using data from across all their channels to understand customer behavior. Consider this: 44 percent of organizations say they offer four or more ways to communicate with customers, but 58 percent think that customers are only using two or three. This lack of insight into customer activities and preferences means retailers are engaging in an omnichannel strategy guessing game that can result in major mistakes related to investments, technologies and hiring.
With the right tools, retailers can easily tap into the voice of the customer across their channels. For example, with new analytics tools, the contact center can derive deeper levels of insight from their traditional quality assurance metrics, including volume, abandon rates, first call resolution and hold times. This information, combined with insights derived from applying analytics across the self-service options, can finally enable retailers to confidently make the customer experience changes that matter most to customers.
While developing digital self-service options is essential to delivering the quick, personalized service today’s consumers expect, these new channels must be fully integrated via a comprehensive omnichannel strategy that creates a seamless path from browsing to purchase, no matter how or where the customer makes contact. Doing this will require a new approach to hiring, training and adding new tools to ensure retailers can hear, understand and act on what customers really want.
Brad Snedeker is director of customer advocacy at Calabrio, a workforce optimization suite.