Guest Column | January 11, 2019

The Retail Digital Era Is Here. Is Your Customer Service Ready?

By Steve Davidson, Fortegra

Omnichannel Customer Care

It’s predicted that by 2025 digital retail will account for $2.95 trillion in operating profits. Even with a number like that in play, some retailers continue to drag their feet on the realities of digital transformation. As more shoppers look online for some good ol’ retail therapy, how can retailers continue to meet customer needs when they’re not face-to-face?

Start With Research

Before setting a plan of attack, it’s essential that retailers take time to research their current customers to gain insight into their priorities. Do customers prefer live chat online or do they prefer assistance via text? Should they pick up the phone and call in, how will they respond to an automated voice system? Once you’ve analyzed and digested these insights, consider how to adjust your strategy accordingly to create their ideal service experience—and, in turn, limit losing customers before they’re even on board.

With research done and a new outlook in place, here are three other ways you can cater to customers in a digital era.

Ramp Up Social Media

Social media usage continues to climb. One reason? More than two-thirds of customers turn to social to connect with brands, using it as a service conduit. This connection can lead to revenue: when companies take time to reach consumers via social platforms they’re likely to spend 20-40 percent more money. Keeping your brand active on social is an easy way to interact and service customers.

But before you jump in, remember to be mindful of your social media response strategy and these three important components:

  1. Always acknowledge that you’re a human responding person-to-person and open with a friendly response. Adding a personal sign off is also a great way to remind the consumer you are actually human and that they aren’t interacting with a bot. Samsung and Applebee’s both utilize this strategy in their messaging to display a more personal approach;
  2. Always ask the customer for specific information to properly solve their issue. This will help distill the discussion and deliver an answer more quickly; and
  3. Provide a call to action. Do they need to email you? Is there somewhere on your website that you want to send them? GoDaddy utilized this exact strategy to great effect when responding to a customer on Twitter who was experiencing a problem.

Speaking of personal, that leads us to our second tip for adjusting your customer service for the digital era.

Personalize The Experience

From web to mobile, proper personalization may require a little bit of trial and error. To get started, think about a time when you were a customer on a retail website. What were some pain points you experienced? Were there any ‘wow’ moments you had during your online experience? Test your site to see what your customers are seeing and make the kinds of changes you would want to enjoy a great digital retail experience.

CVS, for example, takes the online experience to a new level—but they didn’t get there without testing. After research, the retail giant discovered customers were experiencing major issues when filling prescriptions and checking out. To fix this problem, CVS created an innovation lab dedicated to the digital customer experience. Now customers can scan the barcode on prescriptions through the CVS app to complete refills and they can store previously used payment options to ensure a speedy checkout.

Oh, and this can’t be stressed enough: when making these changes, don’t neglect mobile. Forty-eight percent of consumers think businesses don’t care about the experience if a site isn’t mobile-friendly. Imagine losing almost half your customer base because your website can’t handle a smartphone. Yikes.

Close Purchases With Added Value

Last, but not least, consider where your customers spend most of their time. We’ll give you a hint: it’s likely on those phones. Through strategic texting and email campaigns, you can draw more foot traffic to your store and provide exclusive offerings to those customers who sign up for your newsletter. If something is sitting in a customer’s cart, a friendly email reminding them can push them to the point of purchase. For bonus points, add a coupon code in email communications to further entice them, or include a time-sensitive expiration date. Gap, Inc., for example, uses data content optimization (DCO) to target these scenarios and can customize the message based on where the customer is in their journey.

If we haven’t convinced you yet, consider this: technology in the retail landscape will change more in the next 10 years than it has in the last 40 – talk about an adjustment. Consider these steps to help elevate your digital customer experience as times change.

About The AuthorREx Steve Davidson, Fortegra

Steve Davidson is Vice President of Fortegra’s Warranty Product Group where he spearheads business development and client support for the company’s consumer and commercial product service contracts, helping deliver customized risk management, regulatory compliance, and administrative solutions.