Execs In The Know- A Global Network of Customer Experience Professionals

The Missing Link Retailers Need to Turn a Cost Into a Revenue Generator

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The following is a guest blog written by Edward Kowalski, Associate Vice President, Retail Marketing, at Sutherland Global Services. To download a free white paper on the topic, visit  http://www.sutherlandglobal.com/Retail/WP-20160104/Default.aspx

Most retailers are missing a key opportunity. It’s a way to take what’s now an expense and instead use it to build awareness, create loyalty and even grow profits.

It’s customer care.

Companies should combine customer care with customer experience, big data and predictive analytics. It’s a transformation that requires retailers to break down silos and start sharing information that’s widely available.

Consider the constant signals customers provide, based on multiple experiences, with brands across multiple touchpoints. Retail marketers use the information to develop a customer journey that’s seamless, relevant, authentic and omni-channel.

But it’s a missing link that needs to be shared with the customer care team.

Retailers should develop a new system that arms customer care agents with intelligence that spurs personalized engagements. This helps resolve complaints, increase Net Promoter Scores, improve customer satisfaction, create loyalty and, yes, generate revenue.

Here are the steps we recommend:

– Share information – Marketers analyze data and analytics, creating a 360-degree view of customers. It allows them to create intelligent communications so customers receive the right message, at the right time, through the right channel.

That customer intelligence forms the blueprint that drives strategic marketing plans. But it’s rarely shared with customer care agents who routinely have direct 1:1 communications with customers. Without the analytics needed to guide a customer’s journey, customer care is typically limited to solving at-the-moment issues as quickly as possible.

We helped a fashion retailer give customer care agents the tools needed to become an integrated part of the customer experience. The agents saw each customer’s purchase history, for example, allowing them to customize product recommendations. The result? Sales conversion climbed from 15 percent to 25 percent, the basket size increased by 7 percent and the average handle time dropped by 23 percent.

– Make it personal – Retailers have long tried to “know thy customer,” which is why they now analyze and segment data. Once they acquire a better understanding of customers’ buying behaviors, their predictions alter their strategies.

Product-centric programs are out. The focus now is enhancing the customer experience. No matter the communication channel, when businesses personalize shopping effectively, it creates a brand loyalty with customers.

This happens on intelligent websites, for instance. They collect user data and, based on a customer’s preference, they dynamically present different retail offerings. Today, as omni-channel marketers and ecommerce leaders make this shift, it should also carry over to customer care.

The more customer care agents know about customers, the more they can create personalized experiences across channels and devices.

– Help customer care agents make real-time recommendations – After unlocking information, retailers should provide customer care agents with an automated set of intelligence that enables personalization. Now the customer experience journey gets extended through the customer care channel.

Customer care agents can deliver a consistent, relevant, authentic and timely experience if they have tools that provide information, intelligence and recommendations in real-time. It’s efficient and effective.

After breaking down silos and unlocking all of a company’s information about customers, retailers must integrate that intelligence with the dashboards customer care agents use. This is made possible through the integration of Customer Engagement Management Platforms. Dashboards powered by these platforms will showcase insightful data and analytics, providing a full view of the customer and automating customized recommendations (in the form of next best actions). In turn, this provides the highly valued, personalized customer experience.

In addition to unified customer views and real-time recommendations, these platforms also provide robust business intelligence tools to measure the outcomes of customer engagement. If retailers understand those outcomes, they can incorporate the customer voice into the customer experience design.

The platform’s tools should help customer care agents:

– Pick data from disparate sources

– Correlate the data and enrich individual customer profiles

– Provide cross-dimensional views from the customer’s viewpoint

– Interface and deliver relevant recommendations (Next Best Actions)

– Deliver these actions to the customers at their preferred touch point with context and relevance

This creates more relevant, more meaningful interactions between the customer and the agent. Eventually, it also means a seamless and desirable customer care experience that prompts more long-term customer loyalty and advocacy.

– A better way to measure success – Traditional customer satisfaction measures (C-SAT) become less helpful as the standard of retail customer care becomes more consistent and homogenous. Instead, consider Net Promoter Score (NPS). This measures the most powerful form of marketing: a customer’s willingness to promote a service or product to family and friends. Earning that loyalty shows the retailer’s brand commitment to its customers has been noticed and appreciated. That loyalty means customers shop – and purchase – more frequently.

To hear more about this topic and others like it, from Sutherland Global Services and our other subject matter experts, join us at Customer Response Summit Phoenix, February 23rd-25th, 2016.