How can retailers optimize the customer experience when they are also being challenged by disjointed IT systems and staffing issues? Learn how CCaaS solves for both problems and leads to more meaningful relationships with customers.
There has been a shift in the retail landscape where a business’s customer experience (CX) has become a greater key differentiator than its products or prices. A survey of 17,000 customers found that an extraordinary 86% of consumers feel the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services.
Retailers have moved from helping their customers in a one-off, transactional way to engaging with each customer as an individual and not just a number. By building customer relationships founded on tailored interactions, retailers are finding they can drive loyalty and trust. Positive customer service experiences have shown that customers are more likely to purchase again, recommend a company and forgive a business for its mistake.
But as retailers strive to optimize CX and deepen customer relationships, they are challenged by issues related to staffing and IT systems. Talkdesk surveyed customer experience professionals employed by retail and eCommerce organizations and discovered that the two top barriers these businesses face in achieving their customer service goals are: 1) finding and retaining customer service staff, and 2) complications integrating new technology with existing capabilities.
Retailers confront challenges in ensuring an optimal CX
Consumer shopping is no longer limited to a brick-and-mortar store, with purchasing happening across online, apps and social media—more than three-quarters of customers have used multiple channels to start and complete a transaction. To meet consumers where they are, retailers are taking an omnichannel approach by integrating multiple customer touchpoints into a seamless shopping experience.
The blurring of shopping across channels has led customers to expect the same omnichannel customer service experience, whether that’s online, in-person or a combination. According to the Talkdesk Revolution in Retail Customer Experience report, more than two-thirds of customers cite the importance of transitioning from one channel to another while engaging with a service representative.
However, the omnichannel approach to CX presents an issue since 86% of retailers report that their customer engagement channels are less than fully integrated, and more than half are not omnichannel. Retailers are dealing with historically disjointed channels and processes and are lacking the contact center back-end workflows or staffing to support a positive customer experience.
In addition to omnichannel engagement, another critical component that enables businesses to provide a personalized customer experience is integration with a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform. This integration allows agents to quickly access comprehensive customer purchase history, preferences, billing information, and more. Businesses can use nearly any data point in their CRM to design a unique call flow tailored for each type of customer, ensuring they get the best support available every time.
Recruiting and retaining CX agents
The retail and hospitality sector employs more people than any other sector in the United States, with around 20% of U.S. employees (approximately 31 million people). But it is also the sector with the highest “quit rate,” with retail and hospitality employees quitting their jobs at a higher rate than any other sector and outpacing the overall U.S. quit rate by more than 70%.
The effects of the retail employment conundrum are being felt across the industry and the economy. High turnover rates make it challenging for retailers to recruit and retain the staff essential for providing the engaged, loyal contact center employees needed for positive customer experiences. According to a survey of retail executives, administrators and technology staff conducted by Windstream Enterprise and Industry Dive, 48% ranked hiring new, retaining existing and/or reskilling talent as their “high” and/or “critical” priority.
Some of the reasons that U.S. frontline retail employees leave their jobs are a lack of career development and no meaningful work. There is little emphasis on knowledge, skills and ability development, and the jobs are boring or uninteresting. Retailers must empower their contact center workforces in new ways by upskilling and expanding roles. In interviews with customer experience professionals employed by retailers, Talkdesk found that more than three-quarters felt the future success of their contact center is dependent on the need to upskill agents with sales skills to increase upselling and cross-selling.
By moving to Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS), retailers can provide their agents with the most essential information at their fingertips via an intuitive, web-based workspace. Through AI-powered tools like Virtual Agent and Agent Assist, retailers can reduce the burden on their agents by removing mundane tasks and freeing them to tackle more fulfilling engagements that require higher-touch human interactions.
Driving customer loyalty with interactive cross-channel engagement
The ability to resolve customer service issues on first contact is the number one driver of consumer loyalty. Companies realize the importance of this, and according to the PwC Customer Loyalty Executive Survey 2023, the top executive priorities for activating loyalty are enhancing customer service and personalizing the customer experience.
To gain precious loyalty, retailers must provide ongoing meaningful interactions combined with resolving customer issues quickly and easily across all channels and touchpoints. Anyone who engages with a retailer’s customers across their journey has the power to enhance loyalty, including contact center agents.
But while retailers may invest in technology for other business areas, such as inventory management or at the point of sale, the contact center is lagging behind. Many retailer contact centers are not supported by the integrated and unified processes needed for agents to deliver the optimal level of customer experience that drives customer loyalty.
Only 19% of retailers use purely cloud-based contact centers today. By transitioning to CCaaS, retailers can create better customer experiences with omnichannel contact centers that engage customers via their channel of choice. Windstream Enterprise CCaaS, powered by Talkdesk, allows retailers to view, analyze and manage every aspect of the customer journey to ensure the highest level of customer experience at every interaction.