“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?
From good customer care to 360 degrees commerce
At VANEIGENS, we speak of a 360 degrees commerce when all commercial activities an organization does 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 experience negative reviews as a burden, but by grabbing these reviews as opportunities to solve and possible 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.
Proactive customer service as centrally organized process
Many organizations still see that the value of a service department is about solving cases and complaints. On the other hand, I strongly believe that service should have a much bigger position and focus within organizations. Retail companies have to focus on a holistic customer experience in which they 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 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.”
1. Online guidance of sales processes.
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.
2. Use AI to exceed expectations of your customers.
For a great customer care, speed of response and a personalized approach are key 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 translate 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.
3. Integrate your service center with the order management system.
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, then you take the risk that customer share their negative experience on social media and choose for the competitor with the next purchase. So, it is essential to manage all parts on the customer engagement process.
4. Automated monitoring of online reviews and ratings.
In case you respond correctly and in time on online reviews and ratings, you are able to create 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 service can lower the pressure on the contact center significantly.”
Achievable business objectives
Through organizing these opportunities and solutions in the right way, you work towards a number of concrete business objectives:
- Lowering the pressure on the contact center, as many inquiries have already been solved through the digital channels and therefore less incoming requests to the service departments. This results in a better scalability. A great example is our case with Picnic.
- The service department is contributing to the sales results. The service is an (pro)active channel which is able to create an incremental income stream for every organization. Turning a negative experience into a positive experience should be priority number one.
- Increase of the Net Promotor Score, which you can definitely use a marketing instrument.
- Increasing customer engagement, by having the customer grow in steps from enthusiastic to loyal (please also check our Customer Engagement Flywheel).
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 indepth 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.