As customer expectations change and grow, your retail business must keep up with the times by adopting latest innovations and strategies
All for one and one for all. This is the guiding principle behind omnichannel, the most significant and relevant trend in the retail sector today. Armed with mobile phones and tablets, consumers are shopping across more channels than ever. The increasing digitization of retail and the rise of e-commerce in India has compelled retailers to rethink their strategies and redefine the shopping experience.
To survive and thrive in an increasingly competitive environment, retailers must rejig their businesses to ensure that the shopping experience is quick, smooth and glitch-free. To put it simply, omnichannel experience is an integrated approach to marketing, selling and serving customers with the aim to create a seamless retail experience.
The new mantra of retail
An integral part of the retail experience, customer service has undergone immense transformation in recent years. A few years ago, there were only a couple of ways to contact a company, the customer either called or sent an email. Today, they look out for multiple options for the sake of convenience — be it a phone call, SMS, live chat, email, video chat and social media.
The retail customer however wants more than just multiple points of contact as part of the omnichannel experience. Every channel must remain at par with each other in delivering a consistent and integrated message to ensure that the customer can effortlessly switch between multiple channels yet experience the same quality of service.
Why do you need an omnichannel strategy?
With an omnichannel customer support model, you can provide service to your customers in a convenient and effective manner while improving your brand’s image and credibility. A glitch-free conversation with your support team makes the customer feel valued and connected with your brand. At the same time, by creating an intuitive flow of communication from one channel to the next, your agents also gain a single view of the customer, understanding his requirements better.
Also read: Omnichannel marketing engages users across all touchpoints, and this 6-step checklist will help in your campaign
1. Retain context
By opting for an omnichannel solution, you create a centralised ticket history that retains the context of each conversation. This action can significantly reduce handle time and make life easy for your agents and the customer. With access to historical data, agents gain a context to kick start troubleshooting.
2. Integrate metrics
It’s fantastic to be able to provide support through multiple channels but, there are also chances of you getting saddled with the tedious task of pulling metrics from multiple systems. An omnichannel solution saves you the trouble by providing channel metrics in real-time and giving the flexibility to make changes on the fly.
3. Customise your channel offering
Every channel that works towards an omnichannel solution can be easily calibrated and adjusted to suit your customers and support team. You may begin with a few and add more as you alter channel offerings to match changing retail trends or customer preferences.
What makes up an omnichannel strategy?
Customers and their convenience are the nucleus of an omnichannel strategy. Needless to say, the retail habits and preferences of customers determine the natural journey of each channel. Your customer should be able to switch easily between each channel just as your agents can. Here’s where you need to pause and think deep – when it comes to an ominchannel strategy, one size doesn’t fit all. Ask yourself a vital question: What is the natural journey your customer might take to contact you?
Once you have figured out the answer to that question you can build your own omnichannel strategy. Also remember that the following components are the building blocks of any effective customer service strategy:
Omnichannel support starts with quick and hassle-free self-service. A large section of your customers expect businesses to make it easy for them to solve their issues themselves. As a building block of your communication strategy, design a comprehensive FAQs page to empower your customers help themselves.
Texting is a popular customer service channel for many industries across India owing to its versatility. Restaurants and salons are using text messages to book tables and send appointments, while local kirana shops send promotional texts and greetings via SMS. At the same time, verticals like banks and insurance companies use this personalized medium of communication to respond to claims or financial queries.
Facilitating a two-way communication, a chat option gives customers quick access to a real person. In an ideal omnichannel solution, agents should be able to view the path the customer took to get to the chat option. These include help articles they may have viewed, or FAQ pages visited. This helps agents to cut to the chase and avoid repeating information.
4. Connection by call
Some customers may have sensitive problems that need a more personalized conversation. In such cases, phone or video support is the ideal communication channel. With an omnichannel strategy you can tie up the call option to other channels like email and chat, to help agents get an idea of all previous customer conversations when on the call.
Also read: 9 golden rules for marketing a retail business
5. Social media
With their high consumption of social media, millennials often reach out to companies via their social media handles such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. While dealing with young customers, it’s important to reduce response time and train agents to provide quick and effective solutions. Remember that social media is a public platform and it’s important for your team to deal with customer grievances promptly to preserve your brand image.
The future of retail communication
As customer expectations change and grow, your retail business must keep up with the times by adopting latest innovations and strategies. An efficient software is the foundation of any omnichannel solution. It allows agents to fluidly move between channels while retaining the context of the conversation and providing solutions.
But no software can function efficiently without a human touch. This is where a unique omnichannel experience steps in. It’s imperative for staff members to understand and be trained in omnichannel systems to address customer concerns and boost a positive brand image. It may be a new phenomenon for the uninitiated but omnichannel is a definitive strategy which will go a long way in increasing your customer retention and improving bottom lines.
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