This is part two of a multipart series. Here is part one.
The Other Blind Spot: The Call Center
Organizations often call their call-center system CRM, but it’s not; it’s a contact management system (CMS). A CMS is front-ended by telephony (e.g., “What’s your call about?”) automated experiences. The service rep is going to log the call, asking for the customer's information while trying to do a lookup, and then respond to their request or issue. Remarkably, a CRM doesn't have access to the single view of customer (SVC).
If the customer has never called before, they're net new to the system. The best the customer service rep can do is log the call, log the issue, try to provide a resolution or identify follow-up steps to resolve. Is the customer angry? Does he or she need to know about their product order? Does she want to exchange an item? The customer service rep is trying to deal with the customer and their issue while toggling between the point-of-sale system and the order management system (OMS), trying to figure out what’s going on with their purchase. As it stands today, that’s a tough job.
The customer service rep should have easy access to perform a customer lookup to view all the information about the customer: purchase history across channels, previous service contacts, marketing contacts, customer intelligence. What do I mean about customer intelligence? I mean lifetime value, segmentation, lifecycle stage, product recommendations and more. Imagine what a trained service professional could do for a customer if armed with that information during a person-to-person interaction.
How do you do it? Assuming you can create some new screens with your CMS, one way is to publish the SVC in the cloud and create APIs to deliver the SVC payload to those new screens. The first API is the customer lookup using name and ZIP code, email address, phone number, or receipt number. Once they find the candidate record, then the full set of data gets delivered by the second customer profile API. Once the CMS provides SVC access to the service rep in the call center, then your system starts to look like a CRM.
Stores: Look Up Without Slowing Down
A customer lookup in-store can be awkward during the shopping experience and may slow down transactions. Beyond technology challenges like those we just discussed, the potential impact to the in-store customer experience has the business frozen in time — i.e., when store associates operate without a view of the customer they attempt to serve.
These obstacles are less daunting for retailers with a longer, more relaxed shopping experience. There's time to interact with the customer, get to know them a bit and maybe obtain enough information to perform the lookup. With an enhanced user interface to the POS, like associate tablets that are equipped with the customer lookup and customer profile APIs to the SVC, retailers can empower the associate to deliver a better customer experience.
For more fast-paced retailers, lookup can be automatic. The technology is there, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), better networks in malls and stores, beacons, and consumers with mobile devices. Preferred customers add their loyalty card to their phone and grant permission for location services, then when they come within proximity of the store, a beacon captures their loyalty identification and automatically fires customer lookup and customer profile APIs. As the customer crosses the store threshold, a well-trained associate knows who they are and how to best serve them. Starting with a full view of the customer gives them that power.
Brick-and-Mortar and Experience
When you’re talking to your customer face-to-face, do you really know who that person is? You should. If a multichannel retailer’s e-commerce store accounts for 10 percent to 15 percent of its revenue, that’s a really large store. But even then, 85 percent of revenue is coming from brick-and-mortar. Retailers need to deliver the same intelligence they have on their e-commerce sites to their stores.
Look at Amazon, the digital behemoth, as it's opening and planning for more stores. And since the acquisition, every Whole Foods location has the potential to be an Amazon location. What do you think Amazon is going to do in its stores? Better get ready.
The "Retail Apocalypse" is not that apocalyptic. Despite the closings, retail stores aren't going away; they're evolving. The next big thing, already underway, is that stores and malls are becoming more experiential. A destination that also includes food, drink and entertainment. Let’s prepare for the future shopping experience.
Mailboxes are still full of catalogs, inboxes are still getting emails, and mall and retail experiences are getting better. Millennials like experiences. We all do, and we always did. People still want what brick-and-mortar can deliver them, especially when their customer service is based on a single view of them, the customer.
Augie MacCurrach is the CEO of Boston-based Customer Portfolios, a marketing technology leader that uses insight and analytics to increase customer value.
Related story: Brick-and-Mortar: The New (and Original) Frontier, Part 1