All I want for Christmas is


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With just seven weeks to go until Christmas, the majority of us will now be starting our Christmas shopping either in-store or online, and with the highly anticipated Christmas adverts from leading retailers launching this week, we expect to be left feeling warm and aglow as we head into the festive season.

However, with a recent report from Econsultancy and CACI showing that only 20% of companies have a well-developed customer experience strategy in place, the likelihood is that a large percentage of us will have our festive cheer dulled by a poor customer experience during the busiest shopping period of the year.

A recent survey of 2,000 online consumers by eDigitalResearch and IMRG found that almost all respondents (96%) will shop online this Christmas, with 48% purchasing at least half of their Christmas shopping on the internet and 64% of smartphone shoppers planning to purchase more Christmas gifts from their device this year compared to 2012.

The continued growth in the number of connected devices the average consumer now owns has fundamentally changed the way they shop, using a number of devices simultaneously to browse, research and buy products and services over – increasing the pressure on companies to meet consumer expectations for a consistent online customer service across all touch-points.

More than three out of every four of the nearly 900 companies and agencies surveyed for the Econsultancy report agreed that the benefits of having an integrated customer experience included:

  • 88% – Improved customer retention / brand loyalty
  • 82% – Increased sales / improved customer acquisition
  • 79% – Increased customer satisfaction
  • 59% – Referrals and recommendations
  • 44% – Reduced operational costs

Despite recognising these benefits, difficulties with data, siloed technology platforms and systems and processes were identified as the main challenges organisations needed to overcome in order to implement a robust customer experience strategy.

With the new business rates increase due to come into force next April, retailers face further pressure to cut costs, with an extra £242m in rates expected. With the growing risk of high street closures – improving customer acquisition and retaining current customers is of prime importance and providing them with a good online customer service as cost effectively as possible will be crucial.

Whilst shopping for Christmas presents online has many advantages over visiting the high street (no queues, parking issues or hours of trudging around multiple stores), customers also expect to be able to find answers to their customer service questions online as easily as they would from a customer service advisor in-store. Aligning internal departments and having the right technology in place is key to providing this.

Santa doesn’t need a satnav to navigate the globe and the customers experience across online customer service channels should be just as effortless, with businesses clearly sign-posting online help via interactive FAQ’s or live chat, that’s as quick and efficient as Santa himself!

So with increased competition, a tough economic climate and the pressure to adapt to the constantly evolving ‘channel hopping’ consumer, what steps do businesses need to put in place?

Christmas wish list…

1. Centralising knowledge / reducing department silos: The ability to provide instant, accurate and up-to-date information to a customer’s enquiry – at any time of the day, can have a major impact on a customer’s perception of a brand. Businesses that build a centralised contact centre knowledge-base for staff, empower them to find answers to customer questions quickly and easily. Allowing contact centre agents, internal departments and staff in-store access to regularly maintained information and documents, reduces silo’s – allowing departments to ‘join-up’ their customer service offering – improving consistency, response times and FCR rates.

2. Supporting customers wherever they are: Todays consumer uses multiple devices and channels. Providing the same experience and service across ALL channels: website, mobile devices, social platforms, e-mail, via the contact-centre or in-store is now expected. Deploying a web self-service knowledge-base across all channels and allowing customers to find answers to their questions themselves, significantly reduces the volume of in-bound enquiries via calls or e-mails to a business. The result of this is improved customer satisfaction and reduced costs for the company.

3. Adaptability: Having the right scalable technology in place will ensure businesses are able to extend their service offering across new channels and markets quickly and efficiently. The ability for businesses to adapt their customer service offering seamlessly will be a key competitive differentiator.

Whether the customer visits a retail store to view a product, researches via a laptop, purchases on a tablet, uses their smartphone for after sales service or raises a complaint via social media – the level of customer service offered should be quick, efficient and above all seamless.

So whilst a consistent online customer experience is likely to be at the top of many online shoppers Christmas wish lists – how many actually get what they want this festive season will be another matter entirely.

Find out here how Synthetix are helping leading organisations provide a multi-channel customer service.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Neldi Rautenbach
Neldi shares insight and best practice tips on multi-channel customer service from Synthetix. Synthetix is a leading provider of online customer service solutions - working with some of the world's best-known brands. Synthetix create bespoke customer service and knowledge base software that enable customers to self-serve timely, accurate and consistent answers to their questions via the web, mobile, e-mail forms, social networks and in the contact centre.


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