5 Ways Retailers Can Modernize Customer Experience in 2021

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The new year is finally here. Consumers continue to turn to eCommerce as a convenient way of getting what they need quickly. Despite meaningful investments in digital customer experiences by retailers, consumers are still struggling to complete basic tasks when shopping online. A recent Consumer Retail survey found that 83% of shoppers expect to easily find what they’re looking for but 40% have recently struggled to complete a transaction online. While you might have support channels available, shoppers are far more likely to give up and shop with a competitor.

As we look to reopen and resume our pre-Covid lives, one thing is certain, digital behaviors are here to stay. The digital experience businesses offer will drive where consumers choose to shop. Convenience and ease to get things done will drive loyalty and revenue.

No matter the fulfillment method, a seamless customer experience is more important than ever. Both proactive and reactive guidance can build loyalty with your customers. Here are five ways to use digital guidance in your customer loyalty strategy this year:

1. Invest in the digital channels customers prefer most.

Consumers are clear when it comes to their expectations and interaction preferences when interacting with your business online. Email and chat continue to be the most preferred digital channels by customers, 26% and 25% respectively. You can optimize these interaction channels by being proactive when you detect customer struggle and offering live chat or email assistance based on urgency and need. Before you invest in technology to support your customers, make sure they will use it.

2. Anticipate where customers might get stuck online.

Get started by talking with the subject matter experts in your contact center about repetitive inquiries or common roadblocks in the customer journey. Do this by asking them to document the most frequent type of requests they receive: Return policy inquiries? Questions about shipping times? How similar products compare? Check-in with your marketing team to see what campaigns may be underperforming. Is it one type of product or one particular promo code? Get curious. Combine this information with your website analytics to determine where your customers abandon your site.

After you learn about where your customers tend to hesitate in your online experience, create a list of top targets for proactive digital guidance to engage your customers in the right way at the right time. If you discover that your customers tend to switch back and forth between two products, provide a comparison chart so they can make the right choice. If customers frequently ask about how a size fits, add more details to help them find their perfect fit. Guide consumers with useful information before they have to ask for it or even realize they have a question.

If you provide a frictionless experience­­–one that removes anything that impedes your customers from completing their journey–you’ll create loyal, lifelong customers who are less likely to abandon and more likely to recommend your company.

3. Communicate important information proactively and clearly.

Change is constant and the need to guide your customers through their online journey, starting at their point of purchase, is imperative. While the information consumers need may be somewhere on your site, it can be difficult for consumers to find when they need it – especially on mobile devices. Present snippets of contextual and relevant information throughout the journey.

Welcoming customers to digital sites and proactively guiding them to updated information about your store hours and procedures, and even to the nearest location to drop off a return or pick up an item, enhances confidence, trust, and loyalty at a time where consumers’ uncertainty is higher than ever. Tailored information can address your customers’ pain points before they abandon their cart and instead, guide them to a successful checkout.

As retailers you must also be responsive to your own internal logistics and not only communicate delivery challenges to your customers, but also internally to ensure a smooth supply chain.

4. Help shoppers complete basic tasks by guiding them to completion

Think of this strategy as a nudge in your favor. Are your physical stores temporarily closed? Do you offer curbside pickup? Are deliveries delayed? Communicate as frequently and openly as possible about the impacts of closures on your retail business. Don’t wait to be asked by your customers, share the changes with your customers proactively.

Customers’ increasingly expect retailers to guide them to the information and products they want online. Digital guidance offers proactive assistance consumers expect without the need to involve an agent. Utilizing digital tools with self-serving functionalities means companies can proactively guide customers who are in different journey steps, in different ways, to minimize the amount of customer service calls made each day.

In other words, you can help your customers help themselves. Those who can self-serve leave with a positive perception of your company’s ability to support them in unusual circumstances—and will continue to view you more positively in the long-term.

5. Intercept and interrupt calling patterns

Providing 1:1 support over the phone is the most costly of channels and many retailers are opting for digital-first options. Once you’ve earned a customer, don’t make them contact you for basic information. If you have a returning customer, you should know that when they return to the site and start to look for the phone number. Instead of merely updating your FAQs and passively waiting for customers to dial anyway, you can intercept them on the first page of their next visit.

You can offer contextual help by guiding them to where your self-service tool is: “Welcome back! We know that you’re anxious to know when your order will arrive. To get the more up to date info about your order, Click here!” and a click takes the user over to the order tracking tool instead of waiting for customers to find it themselves or worse yet, call your contact center with a question they could answer themselves. Save your live agents for valuable interactions—and more importantly, save your customers valuable time.

As a retailer, you have the opportunity to compete and recover some of the $18 billion in yearly sales revenue lost due to shopping cart abandonment by guiding your customers through their online shopping journey. The online winners this year will be the organizations that provide flexibility and proactive guidance to their customers.

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