Omnichannel Retail Experiences – Consumer Behavior, Market Outlook, and Good Practices
Customer service has evolved from post-purchase issue resolution to end-to-end engagement.
Retailers in the last decade have successfully managed their digital transformation and got their systems in place – inventory, order management, fulfillment, and basic customer service.
However, gaps exist in the digital customer experience space.
As customer journeys increasingly begin online, retailers are under pressure to offer differentiated experiences.
There are several customer touchpoints, and customer friction exists across them.
Here are some findings from Incisiv’s Omnichannel Customer Service Index report:
- 91% of agents have in-depth knowledge of the product, while only 34% of the agents offer a personalized experience
- 95% of agents have knowledge of available payment methods, while only 4% of agents have access to cart information
- 82% of retailers have integrated voice response (IVR), while only 29% of IVRs have a self-serve option for order-related issue resolution
According to the Incisiv study, the retail landscape is undergoing a tectonic shift driven by the macroeconomic environment, competition, and changing consumer behavior.
Global uncertainty – 1 in 2 customers say that rising costs make it hard to afford things. Retailers will have to learn to do more for customers for less margin.
Cross-industry benchmark – 75% of customers consider hospitality the benchmark for customer service. The bar is constantly being raised in other sectors like hospitality and travel.
Lower brand loyalty – 1 in 3 customers say they would switch to a new brand after one bad experience. Shoppers can change brands at the point of friction more easily than ever before.
ESG performance – 40% of customers are willing to pay for sustainable products and causes. Retailers need to do more for the environment and society as shoppers increasingly look for sustainable options.
Incisiv’s study adds that shoppers expect speed, personalization, empathy, consistency, and a proactive approach in service interaction with retailers.
- Speed – 35% of the customers are satisfied with the speed of retailers’ responses to customer service queries. Shoppers expect speed of service and issue resolution across the buying journey, balancing pervasive self-service with empathetic human assistance.
- Personalization – 79% of customers think that only marketing messages are personalized, not service. Shoppers expect personalized, relevant, and precise communication across all stages of the buying journey.
- Empathy – only 18% of customers think retailers put the customer first. Shoppers expect empathy, authenticity, and honesty across all customer service interactions, including being flexible in how you solve specific customer issues.
- Consistency – 75% of customers highlighted frustration with inconsistent information across service channels. Shoppers expect consistent responses to queries and issues by making conversations unified across channels.
- Proactive approach – only 12% of customers think retailers are proactive with communication, apart from promotional offers. Shoppers expect retailers to be proactive in their communication and not wait for them to reach out with an issue.
What do you do to make it omnichannel and fulfill the shoppers’ expectations?
Customers can reach your customer service or customer experience function through various channels.
Do your agents have a single view of your customers across all the channels – web, voice, video, email, chat, and social?
Customers don’t have to repeat themselves at any point during their interactions, irrespective of the channel they choose to communicate.
Benefits of Omnichannel Retail Experience
- According to ClickZ, shoppers who use three or more channels to interact with brands have a purchasing frequency rate 250 percent higher than single-channel users.
- Harvard business review reports that customers who use more channels spend an average of 4 percent more in physical stores and 10 percent more online
- According to a Salesforce report, 67% of customers use multiple channels to complete a single transaction. 40% of customers say that they won’t do business with companies if they can’t use their preferred channels
This means that businesses that aren’t offering omnichannel customer engagement are providing a substandard experience for their customers.
With more channels, you have a higher probability of increased revenue and customer retention. However, they have to be integrated, and the customer should be able to switch seamlessly between channels.
- The Coresight report shows that 53% of leading European retailers state that improving customer lifetime value is the reason for implementing an omnichannel strategy.
An omnichannel strategy helps businesses with better inventory visibility, allowing them to fulfill orders from anywhere. The days of retailers losing business due to items being out of stock may be ending.
Let me give you a couple of examples of omnichannel experience scenarios.
A customer chats with your website chatbot and cannot reach a resolution. The customer is provided with the option on the chatbot to seamlessly talk to a live human agent at the call center.
The agent views the conversation that the customer has had with the chatbot. He pulls the information the customer is asking for from the backend and resolves the queries.
Now, he transitions the call to another department to process the approval of a transactional query that the customer had. This also happens seamlessly; the approver accesses all the chat and telephonic conversations and approves.
In this scenario, if you notice, the customer did not have to repeat himself even once. He did not have to try to reach specific departments by himself – it was all automated. The transition from one channel to another and between departments was seamless, focusing on providing the best customer experience.
This would also allow the contact center agents to work more productively to ensure more complex inquiries get the support, quality, and time they deserve.
I was going through a large retail online store, and I liked some of the merchandise I saw. I wanted them immediately, but their site listed shipment time as four days.
I was wondering what to do, and that’s when I saw that I could buy them online and pick them up in-store.
When I clicked on that option, they checked their central inventory system and suggested a nearby physical store where I could pick up the stock.
This situation allowed the retail outlet to offer outstanding customer service, which they promptly did, using their omnichannel capabilities.
Democratization of Omnichannel CX
Omnichannel customer experience has all along been the preserve of large enterprises. Smaller organizations could not think of having such an infrastructure.
Cloud contact centers have democratized the omnichannel customer experience infrastructure, allowing small businesses to access them easily with a subscription fee.
Look at this statement:
You can reach us 24×7 on call, email, chat, and social.
Wouldn’t your customers love this?
Besides, if you have a single view of all your customer interactions, you can provide the best possible customer experience.
As a customer experience function, half your battle is won if you have a single view of all your customer interactions. Omnichannel is the beginning of this experience.