Keep Up With CX Expectations: Meeting the High Bar Set By Retailers

Keep Up With CX Expectations: Meeting the High Bar Set By Retailers – Martin Taylor, Co-Founder and Deputy CEO at Content Guru discusses

The latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index painted a bleak picture for customer and citizen sentiments, with each of the 13 sectors evaluated by the Institute of Customer Service having lower customer satisfaction than in January 2023. Although the data will no doubt concern customer experience (CX) leaders, we can all learn lessons from the report, and in particular from the best-performing sectors, such as retail. Can what works well in one sector translate into another?

The retail sector achieves consistently high customer sentiment scores, and it’s easy to see why. Giants of the retail and e-commerce sector, such as Amazon, have streamlined and perfected their approach to CX. As the famous aphorism states ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’, and the investment and success of industry leaders has filtered down to the rest of the sector. However, the highly competitive nature of retail means those that don’t keep up with increasingly high standards will sink, rather than swim, as brands that provide second-rate CX typically lose out to competitors.

The success of retail will grab the attention of CX leaders in other industries, and it is important they learn from the success and failures of ruthless, fast-moving sectors that have forced innovation; but what are these lessons and how can they make every interaction as seamless as possible?

Support through any channel, at any time

Customers expect to be able to interact with brands both with ease and on their own terms. One of the key pillars of retail’s success is to service customers equally well through traditional, digital and social channels. Research found that more than 80% of consumers are now using social media to engage with brands. Customers want to meet you where they are, and that often means on social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Instagram, and X (formally known as Twitter).

To meet demand for omni-channel experiences, brands across all industries should look at expanding their communications ecosystems to incorporate a wide range of digital and social channels, allowing for a brand-consistent cross-channel experience. Additionally, if a customer starts an interaction on one platform but wants to continue it through another, brands need to enable cross-channel support, rather than send the customer back to square one.

Embracing self-service capabilities

Not all interactions require a human agent. Within retail, in addition to purchasing goods, customers are often able to perform simple administrative tasks, such as processing and shipping returns or updating account details, themselves. Regardless of industry, if customers can easily make simple changes to accounts, or check the status of ongoing changes, you can save hours of agent time.

Another crucial aspect of self-service is the potential of AI-powered chatbots. Although bots won’t be able to answer all enquiries, generative AI, trained on your organisation’s data, could provide updates on a delivery through a tracking number, or answer simple frequently asked questions, such as store opening hours during holiday periods or returns procedures. Allowing both consumers and citizens accessing public services the opportunity to self-serve is key to improving experiences and reducing the pressure on agents.

Enhanced customer engagement and satisfaction through personalisation

The retail sector excels at personalisation; that is, treating customers as individuals to create unique, positive experiences. Take recommendations. By understanding a customer’s past and present needs, you can make accurate, helpful recommendations that translate to purchases. Personalisation doesn’t stop with the sale, however, it should extend to support too.

Unlocking the power of customer data necessitates a unified data fabric, bringing data from multiple third-party systems of record into a single, usable format. No matter the sector, your business can benefit from a Customer Data Platform (CDP). A CDP can provide agents with all the data only they need to effectively support customers, including interaction and purchase histories, personal details, and past sentiment scores.

Retail-level experiences, in any sector

The CX successes of retail and e-commerce brands has been dubbed the ‘Amazon effect’. In essence, offering a highly efficient, seamless, and personalised experience has propelled the industry to new heights. And other industries should take notice. Consumers now expect a similar level of service from other businesses, and even public services. Omni-channel, self-service experiences are the new normal.

The meet expectations, CX leaders across both public and private sectors must focus on shifting towards the cloud. Cloud-based contact centre environments are accessible from anywhere, secure, and constantly updated with the latest technology such as generative AI, which is set to have a seismic impact on all sectors. The widespread availability of generative AI will only push customer expectations higher and it’s important, if brands are to meet expectations, to take steps to utilise best-in-class solutions in 2024 and beyond to take CX to the next level.

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Martin Taylor is Co-Founder and Deputy CEO at Content Guru.

Content Guru helps organisations achieve outstanding customer experience.Its cloud-based solution, storm®, ensures that customers’ requests and issues are quickly and accurately resolved – simply put, engagement made easy. storm is used by over 1000 enterprise-scale public and private organizations in over 50 countries, and is trusted by leading global brands, such as AXA, Interflora and Rakuten Communications, for mission-critical communications.

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