Here’s a sad (but true) story: The dog days of summer are almost at an end. As customers and clientele begin to re-emerge from their sun-soaked vacations, and step firmly back into reality and back-to-school or back-to-work shopping, contact centers in the retail industry and beyond will no doubt see a sharp influx in customer inquiries, emails, messages, and phone calls. Their volume will rise on every channel, and callers will be expecting exquisite and timely customer service regardless of the demands of the busy season. And, too, the numbers don’t lie: Last year, Black Friday yielded over $6 billion online, with Cyber Monday surpassing that number at $7.8 billion. (To say that customers are active during these shopping days is a gross understatement.) As we mentioned in a recent article, “calls to businesses rose more than 375% over the past two holiday seasons.” Continue reading
Tag Archives: retail
While Black Friday and Cyber Monday may seem a long ways off, smart retail contact center and call center leaders are already planning for the variety of challenges this period poses. In 2018, Black Friday pulled in $6.2 billion in online sales and Cyber Monday saw $7.8 billion in sales (both record highs). Given these numbers, it’s unsurprising that calls to businesses rose more than 375% over the past two holiday seasons. While this unbelievable sales flood is a boon for a retailer’s bottom line, it can be a painful time both for customers seeking assistance and those in charge of retail contact centers.
It might seem tempting to neglect the customer experience in favor of the “just get it done” mentality that stems from such a drastic increase in call volume, it’s important that your call center aims to please during the busiest sales periods of the year. After all, this is how customer relationships are made or broken.
So, how can call centers improve customer interactions during the most important weekend of the year? Look no further … we have you covered! In this tip sheet, you’ll read about four of the most important ways you can get your call center into gear with specific action items. (Download the full tip sheet here!)
Customer service is often not seen as the effective marketing tool that it is. It’s no surprise: on the surface, the two departments and their goals seem distinct from one another: Marketing is all about customer acquisition (or, attracting new customers), while customer service is all about customer retention.
And yet, limiting customer service’s definition to that superficial definition ignores a big part of its potential. If you scratch beneath the surface, it becomes apparent that these two seemingly separate functions have significant overlap. The bottom line is this: Providing excellent customer service isn’t just a matter of answering customer’s questions and solving their problems. It should also be a key part of an organization’s marketing strategy.
The buying experience often gets the most attention in customer service. Conversions are the name of the game for most businesses, so it would make sense that importance is placed on the process leading up to a purchase. For example, retail brands focus heavily on ensuring that sales associates help shoppers find the right sizes, greet guests warmly, create quick and easy checkout processes, and include thoughtful touches like water bottles in change rooms.
These are all important components of a great customer service experience, but so are the processes that take place after the fact. Indeed, the post-purchase experience can be just as important, if not more so, in securing customer loyalty. Customers want to feel that they are important even after they have handed over their money. So, how do you ensure you make your clients and customers feel valued after they’ve purchased something from your company? Here are a few strategies that can help.
After graduating from university, I spent a sun-soaked 18 months living in Southern California. Having moved from Ireland, my family and friends back home were interested to hear what I liked and disliked about my new life “state side.” They did not expect to hear about my adoration for the supermarket chain Trader Joe’s, which happened to be conveniently located two blocks from my apartment.
I never considered trips to supermarkets to be transcendent experiences. So, why was I suddenly enjoying this erstwhile chore? It’s because Trader Joe’s (or “TJ’s” as it’s affectionately known) is no ordinary supermarket. It’s quirky. It’s affordable. It stocks good products. There is an essence of good vibes, partially attributable to the Hawaiian-shirt-attired employees and handwritten signs. Plus, when you’re in a crowded store after a long day of work, the friendly folks that work there lighten your mood.
I’m not the only TJ’s fan. In fact, there’s a dedicated fan club for people who are as equally smitten as me. TJ’s has also picked up some notable awards for customer experience, most recently ranking first among multichannel retailers in Forrester Research’s 2018 U.S. Customer Experience Index. So, how has TJ’s turned CX into its competitive advantage?
It’s an IKEA slogan. It’s also IKEA’s raison d’être.
At a healthy 75 years’ old, the Scandinavian born-and-bred brand has well surpassed middle-age and earned its place among retail royalty, continuing to thrive and expand its utilitarian-while-whimsical offerings into the online world. Its products are nestled in households across the globe. Phrases from its brilliantly funny ads have crawled into common parlance. IKEA isn’t simply a store: It’s a cultural force.
IKEA’s long-running epic success is the result of its allegiance to a specific set of principles that guide its every move: To nurture loyalty, a company must dare to be a fixture at every stage of customers’ lives. It must consider their every want and desire. It must meet their needs with products, online and in-store experiences, and customer service offerings.
The proof is in the pudding: Loyal consumers continue to flock to the imposing blue mecca in their town centers (and soon, urban centers) because of IKEA’s ability to hold a customer’s familiar hand throughout their lifetime. With seven decades under its belt, the company has much to teach us about how offering powerful customer experiences can make a brand a force to be reckoned with.
Is your business stuck in the past? Too comfortable or resistant to change? For many leading brands, reinventing or pivoting is a natural part of growth and development, but for others it’s an ongoing battle. The common reaction of, “Oh no, we can’t do that, what if our customers don’t like it?” stems from not understanding your customers’ needs and wants. A strong brand not only recognizes what matters to their customers, but also understands how to deliver it. That’s the motivation for our newest vlog series, #GetToKnowYourCustomersDay. We want you to see your customers on a personal level, their likes, dislikes, and how they interact with your brand.
We’ve narrowed down a few industries that have great potential for development: finance, travel, healthcare, and retail. Each episode will feature a diverse selection of customers being asked some tough questions: How do you see this industry today? What’s missing? What is a standard interaction like? What do you want out of your experience? Continue reading →
The battle for e-commerce market share will be won or lost on the mobile app. In 2012, 11% of all e-commerce sales were through mobile, according to eMarketer. That number was only 8% the previous year and is forecasted to be 15% in 2013.
Many retailers are seeing great success through their mobile apps. At Gilt Groupe, for example, mobile now accounts for 30% of overall sales, up from 5% a year ago. When asked in a recent interview about the future of mobile e-commerce, Gilt’s chairman, Susan Lynne answered bluntly: “It’s going to continue to just crush it”.
What features elevate a decent mobile commerce app into a great one? If we follow the trends of recent data, it’s all about customer service. Too many mobile apps drop the ball in this department by having a “contact us” page that does nothing more than display a phone number. Thus, forcing a customer who needs to speak to an agent to “start over”. Chances are, he’ll put his phone back in his pocket and your sales opportunity is gone – a preventable risk that can be remedied by connecting your call center to your mobile app.
A smart phone app has become a must-have in the financial world. (See our whitepaper “Fonolo for the financial industry”). Other industry segments are following closely. A recently study shows that online retail is the next segment to get the bug.
An accelerating trend
The study, released June 29th 2010 by Forrester Research and Shop.org, states that nearly three-quarters of online retailers either already have or are developing a mobile strategy. The average investment is $170,000 but large retailers are spending several times that.
We at Fonolo think this trend is going to accelerate dramatically in 2011, driven mainly by the proliferation of smartphone and tablets. (IDC predicts those two product categories will outsell traditional computers in the next 18 months.)
But something is missing from the feature list
Of those online retailers with mobile strategies, the most popular features are those that support the cross-channel experience. For example, product info, store info and coupons help support the in-store experience.
But we think the providing store info and coupons is just the beginning of making a mobile app part of the cross-channel experience. What do phones do? They make calls! So the most obvious channel hand-off to focus on is mobile app to call center!
New live demos of mobile Fonolo
By adding the Fonolo component to the mobile app, consumers can connect directly with the call center in a smart and cost-effective way. Best of all, no changes to the call center are required.
We just put up some live demos that show what Fonolo on a smart phone looks like. Check them out here.
If your company has a mobile app or is developing one, contact us to find out more!