Digital Done Wrong: What Self-Service Options Without the Right Omnichannel Strategies Mean for Retail CX
The retail industry is shifting dramatically, paving the way for companies to separate themselves from the competition by taking the right steps to exceed customer expectations. Accenture estimates that the retail industry will change more in the next 10 years than it has over the past 40. Why? Digitization. Business leaders have started leveraging digital technology to better understand and connect with customers. For most retailers, that includes adding digital self-service communication channels. However, when retailers offer their customers chat, text and other digital self-service options without laying the right groundwork, the customer experience suffers.
In today’s competitive landscape, every retailer wants to provide a seamless, quality experience across all channels. In fact, a new report that surveyed marketing and customer experience leaders found 93 percent think it’s important. However, only 45 percent of companies think they're very effective at providing that experience.
There are many reasons as to why today’s businesses aren’t delivering on expectations, but one stands out above the rest: many retailers aren’t deploying end-to-end omnichannel strategies that will achieve a successful customer experience. Here are two of the biggest roadblocks retailers experience, as well as how to overcome them.
A Lack of Commitment
Fifty-eight percent of marketing leaders find it easy to add a new self-service option. In fact, it may be so easy that it’s hindering the customer experience. Deploying self-service options is more than just setting up a new channel; many retailers underestimate the complexity. Forty-two percent admit that employees aren't being trained consistently across all channels, and 39 percent say they don’t have the ability to combine customer interaction data from all channels. In other words, they’re not committing to the contact center agents on the other end of the conversation.
When business leaders commit to leveraging data and analytics across various platforms, retailers can gain a comprehensive view of customer interactions and use that to inform training strategies. From there, they can carve out specialist positions to ensure that the right agents are in place to communicate effectively via each specific channel.
Listening in the Wrong Places
It’s clear that customers want to use self-service options. In fact, this year digital channel interactions are expected to overtake voice interactions for the first time. As a result, many organizations are scrambling to accommodate. Forty-four percent of companies say they offer four or more channels to communicate with their brand. However, 58 percent believe their customers only use two or three. There’s a disconnect, and if companies don’t know which channels their customers are using, they’re listening in all the wrong places.
To really hear what customers have to say, retailers must get to the right interaction data. Many use quality assurance methods to monitor phone calls, but it’s important to apply those methods to every channel. When retailers analyze the entire customer journey across all channels, they can truly understand customer behavior and preferences, and adjust to create the experience customers want.
It’s clear that digital self-service channels give retailers the chance to set themselves apart from the competition. However, lacking a solid underlying strategy can have the opposite effect. To preserve the customer experience and come out on top, it’s imperative for retailers to lay the right groundwork before rushing to adopt more self-service options.
When retailers ensure that contact-center agents are properly trained and equipped to handle new types of customer inquiries, and they’re actively analyzing cross-channel behavior, those companies start to truly understand customer wants and needs. Armed with the right information, contact-center agents can turn digital self-service options into omnichannel success — and benefit the bottom line.
Richard McElroy is the general manager of the Innovation Center & Center of Excellence for Analytics at Calabrio, a workforce optimization suite.
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