It has been proven that streamlining and improving the customer service experience increases earnings for retailers. However, gaining a competitive advantage and generating revenues requires more than just reducing the first response time. Customer service must be consistent throughout all channels of communication where customers interact and provide feedback. This meets the consumer wherever they are and provides a “one face of the brand” for customers in need of assistance.
This ‘one face of the brand’ approach to customer service allows merchants to boost their profits even further. For example, an issue that is handled within 24 hours at the initial point of contact — something that is more likely to happen when all customer communication vehicles are in sync — can be up to 170 percent less expensive than one that takes 48 hours.
This, then, is the new retail customer service imperative:
- Make the customer service experience as frictionless as possible.
- Meet the customer wherever and whenever they want.
- Quickly resolve customer service issues
Increasing profits by improving the customer service experience
Time to resolution has long been a critical metric for retail customer service, but as we’ll see, the proliferation of social media and online communication tools has made delivering quick resolution more difficult. This is significant because evidence suggests that ‘best in class’ resolution times across a range of customer communication channels (phone, email, online communities, Twitter, Facebook, and similar) and at store locations can boost retail revenues.
Costs are considerably reduced when issues are resolved more quickly. For example, an issue that is handled within 24 hours at the initial point of contact — something that is more likely to happen when all customer communication vehicles are in sync — can be up to 170 percent less expensive than one that takes 48 hours.
Faster issue resolution has an impact on important future business sources
Your clients will feel appreciated by the business if they receive “best in class” issue resolution time, regardless of how they communicate with you. However, if your consumers have a longer wait time for issue resolution when calling your company’s e-commerce support line than, say, direct messaging your company’s Twitter stream, the customer experience is harmed.
An issue that is resolved within 24 hours, at the initial point of contact is something that is more likely to happen when all client communication vehicles are in sync — can be up to 170 percent less expensive than one that takes 48 hours to fix.
Furthermore, it may be difficult to pinpoint exactly where the break occurs – aggregate resolution time data may appear to be good in comparison to retail benchmarks. If even one of your customer communication vehicles’ support response times is substantially sluggish or unreliable in comparison to others, your brand may be harmed even before your data indicates a problem. You may be losing profitable consumers now and in the future without even realising it if you don’t have a smooth ‘one face of the brand’ experience in support.
‘One Face of the Brand’ Companies can adapt to change with the help of support
The rapid growth of customer communication vehicles not only offers a challenge to merchants attempting to provide a unified customer service experience but also creates the possibility of internal silos. If your retail company is like many others, one department may be in charge of monitoring brand interactions on Twitter and Facebook, another of responding to inbound (email and phone) support requests, and a third of monitoring online communities for product faults. This means that each group may be unaware of recent support issues for that consumer, putting the retailer’s customer satisfaction at risk.
Even a single fault, for example, can affect many vehicles:
- A consumer sends an email requesting assistance with a problem.
- Follow-up with retailers begins with email and continues with phone calls.
- When the customer returns later that day, they use chat to check on the status of their issue and tweet about their support experience to their social circle.
Collaboration across departments and divisional silos is facilitated through streamlining retail customer service to establish a ‘one face of the brand’ for customers. This collaboration places the customer at the centre of collaborative efforts, reducing time to resolution and enhancing cross-silo agility within a company. However, if collaborative approaches are difficult to adopt across numerous communication vehicles, the customer experience suffers. One way that ‘one face of the brand’ support programmes have good consequences far beyond customer service is by enabling shops to quickly adjust to an unpredictable future.
Customers are empowered while support costs are reduced with ‘One Face of the Brand’
We can see several areas where ‘one face of the brand’ assistance can empower customers while lowering costs if we outline the flow of a typical retail support ticket.
Customers are empowered initially by having increased access to simple, self-service assistance, which eliminates the requirement for a support ticket. Self-service technologies not only empower clients but also minimise support costs and time to resolution. If the consumer still can’t find what they’re looking for, 1:1 support via a selected communication channel can be offered.
The development and management of customer communities, FAQs, knowledge bases, and online tutorials may cross internal departments and divisions under the ‘one face of the brand’ approach to support. As previously said, increased internal collaboration leads to a more flexible retail business, with the consumer at the centre of cooperation initiatives.
Making a Customer Service Scorecard for Retail
Aspects of customer service are likely to have been measured in your company. It may have even been comparing your measurements to industry standards and peer survey data. Regardless, your existing scoring procedures are likely to differ throughout departments and divisions. You’ll need a new, company-wide Retail Customer Service Scorecard to start transforming disjointed, disconnected support silos into ‘one face of the brand’ for smoother assistance and superior outcomes. The following five steps will assist you in doing just that:
- Time to resolution should be benchmarked across all current customer communication channels, and benchmarking should be done on a regular basis in the future.
- To determine the financial impact of ‘one face of the brand’ changes, benchmark existing support expenses and forecast future pipeline from loyalty/referral business.
- Add ‘communication vehicle gaps’ to your ‘one face of the brand’ support plan, where your customers congregate but you don’t have a formal help channel.
- Empower an internal ‘customer service excellence’ team to oversee cross-departmental and cross-division customer service coordination.
- Examine current support platforms and tools to see if they’re flexible enough to keep up with rapid change.
Considerations for Customer Service Platforms
The fifth action item listed above is critical in ensuring that your team has the necessary technology as they begin the process of developing a seamless, “one face of the brand” support experience. To begin with, look for highly adaptable free customer support software that can be quickly adopted regardless of IT resource restrictions to decrease the impact that IT resource constraints may have on these activities.
Consider the following characteristics:
- Platforms such as SaaS and Cloud offer rapid deployment regardless of the legacy system environment.
- Subscription-based licencing reduces upfront expenses and accelerates adoption across the organisation.
- Scalability that allows for ‘elastic customer service,’ effortlessly reacting to increases in peak demand.
- All key customer communication vehicles have a native connection.
- Ongoing research and development to quickly adjust to unpredictable future changes in consumer communication vehicles.
The rapid growth of free customer support software, as well as their unknown future modifications, makes it more difficult to be there where your consumers are, ready to assist them while maintaining a consistent brand experience. These unpredictably disruptive technical shifts, on the other hand, present rare possibilities to gain a competitive advantage and profit from customer service.
Retailers may turn a fragmented brand experience into a ‘one face of the brand’ for customers by leveraging technology to facilitate seamless cross-departmental and cross-division collaboration on customer care. This will boost customer happiness, minimise first response time, and increase brand loyalty/referrals, all of which are critical for retail brands looking for a competitive advantage and greater income.
Is it critical to lessen the risk that your top customers will switch to a competitor this year due to support issues? Is it critical to increase brand loyalty and referrals in order to increase future revenue? If that’s the case, now is the time to act. Take action now to assure consistent ‘one face of the brand’ assistance and switch to a free customer support software like RisePath CRM; businesses that do not act swiftly may lose business to their more agile competitors.
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