“Hi Boudewijn! Unfortunately, the courier has been delayed, our sincere apologies for the inconvenience. You’ll automatically receive a 5 Euro discount on your next purchase.” This is a message that I recently received about an online purchase that I made. At first sight, it doesn’t look like a special message, but looking through my professional customer engagement goggles, this is really ‘next level’ to me.
With one simple message, you lift your customer experience to a higher level, but for the supplier this is easier said than done. As e-commerce company, you need to organize a lot of topics in order to deliver such a standardized process within your customer care. So why should you take all these efforts?
At VANEIGENS, we speak of a 360 degrees commerce when all commercial activities an organization undertakes to sell products or services, are aligned cross-channel and are interrelated. Besides marketing and sales, this of course also includes all activities from departments like fulfilment, delivery and customer care. Customer service within retail and e-commerce is often still the poor relation when we’re talking about the focus on financial business result. Within the ‘service silo’, there is often sufficient attention to the setup of a track and trace system though and to the effectively processing of delivery and returns. But service as a wider approach is too often being underestimated and especially the connectivity between elements, systems and departments. I am convinced that the focus should be on the bigger picture and with that on proactive customer service, aiming for optimal engagement and contributing to a positive financial business result.
“Negative reviews are often perceived as a burden, while it can offer you ‘sales opportunities’.”
With proactive service, it is meant that all possible touch points of the customer (even outside of your existing scope) are being processed and aligned, in order to satisfy customers and make them enthusiastic, even after a negative experience. Think about no longer experiencing negative reviews as a burden, but by grabbing these reviews as opportunities to solve and possibly turn into future new sales.
In addition to this, due to COVID-19, many retailers have been forced to shift big parts of their focus to e-commerce, while delivery and fulfilment processes hadn’t been fully optimized for the increase in orders and deliveries. So, retail has a large step to take towards a 360 degrees commerce.
Many organizations still share the opinion that the value of a service department is about solving cases and complaints. In contrary, I strongly believe that service should have a much bigger position and focus within organizations. Retail companies should focus on a holistic customer experience in which these individuals feel seen, unique, valued, appreciated and supporting. Independent of where the customer is within the journey.
To achieve this, the setup of a well-functioning track & trace system (via the so called “where is my order” flow) in communication with the CRM-system is of course essential. But there are more opportunities and solutions.
“With the right tools you are able to fully support your customer in its order process via video.”
At a time where personal contact is strongly being limited, you need a different approach to contact your customers in a personal manner. A great solution for this is to connect your service channels to a digital video tool (like our Video-to-Video). In this way, you can provide a service face-to-face and you’re even able to guide your customers in their order process via co-browsing. With this solution, you are able to use video as effective marketing and service tool in a structural manner.
For a great customer care, speed of response and a personalized approach are keys to success. Artificial Intelligence, in this case mainly machine learning processes, can support in this process by analyzing large amounts of customer feedback and inquiries and translating them intuitively into automatic replies, for example via chatbots. Only in cases where chatbots aren’t able to support the customers any longer, customer service agents are taking over. In the complete process, it is herewith possible to speed up the average handling time, lower the pressure on customer care channels and monitor more precisely on CSat by applying improvements based on learnings.
By integrating an additional layer (Transactional Messaging Layer) between the service center and the OMS and ERP, you make it possible to automatically send out messages when changes appear within the order and delivery process. As soon as this process brings frustration, you take the risk that customers share their negative experiences on social media and choose for the competitor with their next purchase. So, it is essential to manage all parts on the customer engagement process.
In case you respond correctly and in time on online reviews and ratings, you are able to develop new sales opportunities. Make sure that for every monitored review your internal processes create new ‘cases’ within the CRM-system to be handled by customer service. This makes sure that you can respond quickly, on both negative and positive reviews. For example:
“Dear, we have read that you had a negative experience with us, we are sorry about this. Can we help you out in any way?”
“Happy to read that you are positive about your experience with us, thanks for this review!”
You can even take this a step further and add a discount code for future purchases to these cases. By adding perks and promotions to these positive and negative reviews, you are effectively working on increasing customer engagement and loyalty.
Many organizations use loyalty programs to stimulate loyalty of their customers. But this program on its own is not sufficient to really drive customer loyalty. It should be included within all aspects on the customer journey, with the focus on personalization. Data is key for this. With a complete 360 customer view of every individual, you can make personalized suggestions. And meanwhile you are developing a long-term emotional connection.
“Proactive customer care can lower the pressure on the contact center significantly.”
Through organizing these opportunities and solutions in the right way, you work towards a number of concrete business objectives:
With proactive customer service, you are able to keep the promise of ‘next level customer engagement’. By proactively communicating with the customer about her or his order, you already make a big impact on the customer experience. It is in practice much more complicated for retail companies than it seems.
In order to enable these small ‘suprises’ for the customer, a lot has to be organized, integrated and configurated at the backend. But with the right systems and tooling to connect and integrate the different data sources and by applying in-depth data analysis, you’re off to a flying start.
Want to know more about the impact of the latest developments on customer engagement? Read my previous blog about the most important challenges for retail in 2021.
Click here to see how we develop these solutions for our customers.
‘’I don’t give a 10, because that would mean there is no room for improvement, but I certainly give them a big fat 9, because that is what they deserve.’’
Manager Customer Service Omoda
North Africa Dreamin’
The North Africa Dreamin team is made up of volunteers from the Moroccan Trailblazers community whose common vision could be summed up in one word: sharing
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