Social distancing practices may have changed consumer priorities, but retail shoppers are still looking for empathetic and helpful experiences from their favorite brands.
Since brick-and-mortar locations have shuttered to stem the spread of COVID-19, the demand for online retail services has also skyrocketed. According to data from Adobe Analytics, daily e-commerce sales have increased by 25 percent in the U.S. in just the first three weeks of March 2020. Concerned shoppers need easy access to medicine, groceries, and household goods, especially cleaning and paper products.
As a result of this sudden but seismic shift, call canters are experiencing a high volume of customer calls about online ordering and availability. At the same time, agents who field these calls are learning to navigate work-from-home policies and maintain social distancing, just like the frightened customers they serve.
Now more than ever, a consistent, delightful customer experience is crucial for maintaining customer loyalty in the retail sector and helping alleviate unprecedented stress for call center agents. Here are four ways technology can help your brand navigate a rapidly changing marketplace, stay nimble, and address shifting customer needs on the fly.
1. Redefine customer engagement
Especially in early hard-hit states like New York, California, and Michigan, CX leaders must be able to adjust in real-time to the changing needs of their customers. Stay-at-home orders from local governments mean customers can't venture outside of their homes and will be expecting an easy-to-navigate online shopping experience with simple self-service options.
Take these initial moments of the crisis to redefine how you will engage digitally with your customers. That might mean optimizing your website with self-service tools in order to reduce call center volume or introducing more chat, messaging, and conversation bots to deliver high-quality, consistent CX for your most valued shoppers.
A simple, AI-powered tool like an FAQ widget can help you track customer concerns during this uncertain time. By capturing more data about pressing customer questions, you'll be able to rapidly produce the CX solutions customers need to engage with your brand. With customer concerns top-of-mind, you'll also be able to continuously adjust agent training and resources as the crisis unfolds.
2. Optimize your website for self-service
In the age of social distancing, customers need fast, simple, and consistent ways to find exactly what they're looking for on your site. As it becomes more difficult to venture outside, they'll also need better and more empathetic options for returning packages without added stress.
Customer self-service tools like dynamic search, conversational chat bots, and virtual assistants augment CX and reduce pressure on call centers. These tools not only allow your customers to resolve questions quickly and easily on their own, but they also help rout customers toward an agent or a sale at exactly the right moment.
Even under the best of circumstances, more than half of customers prefer to solve problems or make purchasing decisions without interacting with an agent. With more powerful AI tools, your brand can make CX frictionless at a time when customer's minds are focused on the health and safety of themselves and their loved ones — not on making yet another call to accomplish a simple goal.
3. Personalize the shopping experience
Most of our customers are currently working from home, balancing deadlines with the needs of their families, including children who are out of school and cooped up in the house. These customers must also order basic supplies while limiting the amount of time they spend outside.
The more your retail platforms and agents are empowered to save and recall details like repeat orders and customer information, the better your brand's CX will be. Integrate bots that recognize who your customers are, including their past order history, to help customers quickly and painlessly place orders for delivery. Face these same powerful personalization tools to your agents, who can quickly access contextually correct answers for repeat customers and deliver high-touch CX at exactly the right time.
When both your agents and your digital platforms have the right tools, you enrich your brand's CX while reducing friction at the time when your customers need it most.
4. Empower your work-from-home call center agents
With reports of panicked customers taking out their anxiety on customer service agents on the rise, there's more your brand can do to empower agents and reduce tensions.
Retail customers require a consistent shopping experience, and AI-powered tech can provide that through personalized shopping tools and powerful agent-facing database technology. Even though your call center agents are likely fielding customer calls at home, you can empower your agents with the information they need — when they need it.
Cloud-based tools like omni-channel customer engagement and dynamic search for agents reduce friction for customers and improve customer satisfaction across the board. They also ensure your agents are providing up-to-the-minute answers during a time of crisis, winning you customer loyalty and lowering the amount of stress your hard-working employees must shoulder at a difficult time.
In the age of social distancing, your brand can create outstanding customer and employee experiences by finding even more ways to be empathetic and relentlessly helpful – especially in these uncertain times. In the age of social distancing, the right tools and technology make all the difference. Scale human interaction and deliver more personalized touches that will resonate with your customers right now.