Not long ago, customers wanting to make a purchase had two choices: physically walk into a retail store or call a 1-800 number to place an order. While these seem limited in today’s world of omnichannel commerce, there were benefits. Most importantly, it supported the ability to create and maintain a strong brand. After all, as long as the store associates and the call center were consistent, retailers could easily manage their brand across these few channels.
But times change. Competition has increased, even as some physical store brands are shuttering. Channels have also expanded — from brick-and-mortar, apps and chat-based commerce to digital storefronts, pop-ups and curated distributors like Amazon.com. How is a company supposed to manage its brand in this environment?
Statistics show that customers often start a purchase or support request in a digital channel, but they will move to another channel if unresolved, most often the phone. In fact, analysts at CEB, now part of Gartner, report in Harvard Business Review that 81 percent of customers will attempt self-service before reaching out to a live representative.
With all this channel hopping, making the brand experience consistent can be complex. However, any retailer can do it by following a few simple strategies.
Strategy 1: Create Channel Connections
It’s become evident that the decreasing volume of incoming phone calls has actually heightened their importance relative to the brand experience. When someone wants to speak with a representative today, it’s often with a complex inquiry or time-sensitive issue. Many times, the caller has tried other channels and failed to resolve their issue, so emotion can also run high.
Making it easy for customers to reach out via phone is a first step in protecting your brand. When implemented correctly, a well-placed “Call Me” option can create an immediate connection between the customer and the business.
Within your app, website or any digital channel, the ability to request a callback removes the initial hoops of connecting with a live agent. It also eliminates hold time, letting customers know that their schedule is important.
In other words, an option to request a callback supports customers in the critical moment when they’re most likely to change their perception of a brand. It connects all the channels by offering a human safety net, no matter how diverse the channel or customer challenge.
Strategy 2: Connect the Data
Retailers track reams of customer data associated with digital channels, including clicks and other actions. But what happens when the customer moves offline? In most cases, that digital path is siloed, leaving the agent with no context about what channels or actions the caller has already taken.
With callback and a context management platform, however, retailers can capture and analyze historical and real-time customer-specific data. This breaks down silos and empowers agents with the data they need to create a positive interaction with the brand.
When an agent understands how the customer ended up on the phone, they can provide an effortless transition to the next stage of service — and all without making the customer feel like the time they spent in other channels was simply wasted.
Strategy 3: Leverage Your Existing Infrastructure
In the past, retailers might have been hesitant to deploy connectivity strategies for fear of having to make huge technology investments or take on the dreaded “rip and replace.”
No more. Modern, cloud-based technology means that locking into a weighty infrastructure investment is no longer necessary. Multichannel callback in the cloud creates a better experience for customers, and makes practical and financial business sense, as the service is hosted online instead of on-site. Another major benefit of the cloud is that businesses of every size can access a solution tailored to their size and operations.
Businesses have a variety of customizable services available when deploying callback or engagement platforms in the cloud. The software-as-a-service model provides the ability to add on or remove desired capabilities and scale capacity as needed. Additionally, a cloud-based system can integrate with CRM and other front- and back-office solutions for the contact center team. Retailers can make real-time adjustments by taking account of the functions that your business and customers need. This is important as retailers work to create a consistent image of the brand, or as they expand offerings, service channels or regions.
There’s no reason to risk your brand reputation on poor channel connectivity, disconnected data streams, or misconceptions about cloud infrastructure or contracts. By following a few simple strategies, retailers of any size can deploy cloud-based callback or engagement platforms that offer a strong foundation for channel consistency.
Jaime Bailey is vice president of marketing at Virtual Hold Technology, a customer service improvement software provider.
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