How to Win at Customer Service & Post-purchase Engagement
For the second year running, our President and Co-founder, Dan Herman, was invited to speak on the expert panel at Shoptalk.
Retailers know that customer satisfaction scores are critical if they are to build a loyal customer base. Dan, and fellow innovators from Narvar, StellaService, and Gladly, took to the stage to discuss how retailers are streamlining the post-purchase process and using technology to delight customers, after they've placed an order.
Shoptalk Panel Talk, Our Summary:
In the conversations you've had with companies during the last 6 months, what are some common challenges you have heard around the race to keep up with the rising expectations for great customer service? Can retailers ever meet customer service expectations of shoppers?
First-contact resolution is just as important now, than ever. We’ve heard it direct from consumers, in chat transcripts, they’re losing faith in customer service via phone because of long wait times. They want answers NOW and in a convenient way.
Get out ahead of common questions, use intelligence about your customers to really understand what the friction points are, and do your best to reduce them where possible. Our customers who sell refurbished products see a lot of shoppers asking questions about the reliability of third-party refurb resellers and their products. With certain retailers, you know the refurb quality is excellent, so consumers have confidence buying these items. Other retailers might need to work on their reputation in this area to put shoppers minds at ease.
Retailers need to understand the importance being present across all touchpoints in the consumer journey, which includes the research/review phase. Being present when consumers are deciding what to buy can go a long way to providing the start of that end-to-end great customer service. Letting them know you’ve got their back, wherever they are...
In a world where shopping is increasingly moving online, how do you maintain the human element of customer service? What role should technology play?
"It's insane that in 2017 you have to switch between different messaging apps to chat in the same way to different people." - Tom Goodwin, EVP of Innovation at Zenith Media
This is true not only of our personal relationships but the relationships with have with companies, including retail. Phone calls may have been replaced by texting, but the conversation is still necessary. In order to have a conversation you need that human element.
How many times have you been stood in a store waiting to be noticed by an employee? Or had to go search for one? Even when you find someone, the conversation is meaningless if they cannot assist you. This is not true of all in-store experiences of course, but the point is, we cannot assume the quality of human interaction will decrease because that interaction is now digital, if anything it enhances it.
“Personalization starts with understanding the customer - no better way to understand the customer than having a conversation with them. Reassurance around buying the right product.”
Behavior shifted some time ago, to one where we're adept at holding conversations via our smartphone or laptop. By paying close attention to language, we can mimic this in a customer service environment, through the use of a conversational tone, emojis, and not being afraid to show our personality. Some of the most successful customer service conversations we've seen have been where the agent made the customer laugh with a quip. Is the human element of customer service necessary in a digital environment? Absolutely.
How do you scale it? It's important not to try and boil the ocean yourself, unless you have the budget, the right people, and time to implement everything you need to make it happen. Where to start? Partner with some of the great companies already mastering the technology and network you need, so you can plug your existing contact center into that.
How does what Amazon is doing impact customer service demands and expectations?
This is something Newegg and Walmart have been doing forever - they were first-to-market with real-time, live advice from product experts, directly to shoppers on their eCommerce site. Their strategy for customer service excellence is now further validated by retailers such as Amazon.
LiveExpert could encourage excellent customer service (through real-time engagement) to become the norm. This is a great benchmark for others -- who follow in the footsteps of Walmart, Amazon, and Newegg -- to strive towards.
With the amount of consumer behavior data that would be available, if all retailers and brands plugged into their consumers this way, the possibilities for how we personalize the shopping experience will increase exponentially.
How can retailers create an effortless post-purchase journey? What are the opportunities to offer proactive service, establish emotional connections, and preempt common issues?
Continuing the conversation enables retailers to open up new marketing channels and reach an already captive audience. Getting involved in the conversation during the review phase, by inviting shoppers to live chat, can not only transform a bad customer experience into an amazing one, but it's a direct way of limiting the damage a bad review can do!
Post-purchase inquiries also happen during the shipping phase, we've all gone through the stress of waiting for an important package, refreshing the tracking page in the hopes of movement, feeling powerless to move things along. Live chat assistance in these moments go a long way to streamlining the path to purchase, and bringing customers back into the loyalty loop.
Customer experience is a top priority for retailers, and many are starting to create that personalized end-to-end journey, within which post-purchase is often overlooked. Customers who have a positive end-to-end experience come to love shopping at these retailers and become advocates for the brand. A lifelong customer is not an accident!
Generating a consistent customer satisfaction relies, largely, on delivering high-quality customer service. Retailers can keep front-line teams engaged and performing at their best if they spend time training and inspiring customer service teams, empowering them to provide great conversations. It's worth the investment to foster this kind of environment.
As the pressure to support more channels continues to increase, what do you think companies should consider as they evaluate which channels to add or eliminate and how to manage them all?
Where are your customers? Focus your efforts on the right channels and double-down where your customers actually are.
As mentioned earlier, the opportunity to scale, whether that be customer service or channel management, lies within partnerships. There are companies who have spent the money to develop the technology, with the infrastructure to support it, that you can integrate directly with. You don't have to do it all by yourself, leverage others to facilitate scale.
What’s the role of chat in post-purchase experience?
Think about a time you've purchased something, and needed assistance after checkout. How easy was it to reach someone?
The thing with eCommerce is that shoppers can feel disconnected from the experience, and finding that person who can answer their questions in real-time, with precision, is often challenging. This is true with post-purchase when consumers are probably arriving frustrated.
Providing chat in a post-purchase situation provides a convenient and instant way for consumers to contact the customer service team and resolve any issues. Post-purchase support is crucial for preventing additional damage to brand advocacy if something hasn't gone quite right. Chat should be integrated into a personalized service, that runs from start to finish.
With growing "Returns", how should retailers think about modernizing those processes online and offline on the consumer's terms?
Returns cost retailers $260 billion a year, which accounts for 8% of total sales. If returns were a corporation, they would be #3 on the Fortune 500 list!
Getting out ahead… Lots of retailers have successfully used communication to avoid the damage of returns pre-purchase and post-purchase by understanding in-depth product issues and capturing potential product description page improvements to enhance the buying experience and help shoppers buy the right product for their need.
Even those who prefer to purchase in-store are doing their research online - 70% of them, in fact - because it’s easier to compare products and prices online at different stores, and they can do it on their own time.
Brands are embracing the ROBO (research online, buy offline) mindset to influence customers before they have even visited a specific retailer or their own site. By doing this, they create a more conducive online experience that caters to consumers who will likely complete their purchase in-store. Your ROBO strategy should extend to post-purchase, always.
Consumers rely more heavily on information and data they can find on the web, this is happening because:
Reduction of friction points. Online is the path of least resistance and interference.
More resources at their disposal than just the product packaging, in-store display materials, and in-store associates.
Customer service is a great way to understand the voice of the customer and get feedback on areas that are going well and not so well. What are some of the most interesting ways you've seen companies leverage data from the customer service team to drive business or product changes?
Catch retail PDP errors and rectify them, to reduce confusion for shoppers (an example of friction).
Potentially develop a product that isn't out there based on consumer feedback.
Gather marketing insights to aid in better targeting ad campaigns for brands on the retailer site.
A recent example, that has piqued the interest of some brands, is the add to cart rate. A lot of them want to know and better understand this number even if they don't convert. This moves the ROI away from dollar conversion, as more and more brands and retailers understand the true value of customer experience improvements.
90% of shoppers who are assisted during their shopping trip, bought something. When they did not receive assistance, only 82% made a purchase. That 8% difference in conversion rate is a key reason why retailers need to invest in their customer service and sales team. 8%, in dollars terms, should be more than enough motivation to prioritize investment in these teams.