Battle On The Showroom Floor

  • Written by Jordan Socran, Vice President Business Development, Radialpoint

EVPsIt’s a very real threat. “Showrooming” has been a leading cause of profit decline for brick-and-mortar retailers for years. Today, with the proliferation of smartphone technology, consumers are now able to access pricing information from competitors instantaneously. The practice has led to a decrease in purchases from physical retail locations and allowed online outlets with much lower overhead to continue to siphon business. The trend shows no signs of slowing down, but fortunately, there is a solution to this problem — and it starts with putting the customer first.

A recent Forrester report, “The Business Impact of Customer Experience, 2012,”explicitly details how companies with higher customer experience scores drive higher levels of customer loyalty. Premium technology support is the key to improving the customer experience and addressing a specific, growing need in today’s connected world. It helps shift the industry away from the increasingly outdated “one-and-done” transactional approach that fails to capitalize on the growing demand for technology support. As consumers continue to adopt new and advancing technologies and seek support for their devices, the retailer that provides support services and improves the customer’s post-purchase experience will ultimately build greater loyalty and fare better financially than the competition.

In simpler, customer-focused terms, if a consumer is on the showroom floor, they are looking to buy. The promise of a personal tech concierge who can troubleshoot and provide technical support for virtually every consumer tech device in the home is an undoubtedly alluring incentive. 

Launching Your Own Premium Support Program

Launching a premium tech support program for your business is not as daunting of a task as it initially may seem. First, an examination of the problem(s) you are attempting to solve is required. Retailers can best gather this information by reaching out to existing contact centers and “bucketing” the types of calls they receive regarding products and services. Those buckets can then be analyzed to recognize recurring patterns. Through this process, showrooming often comes to the forefront as a major concern with real consequences: less in-store traffic, rising costs and a stunning impact on revenue. 

In parallel, an audit on existing technology must also take place. Is the business able to provide advanced customer support across all its channels, whether in-store, online or mobile? Or, will a premium technology support program require a partnership with a technology vendor? This is an especially important question to consider since more than a third of retailers are unable to respond quickly to customer demands because of outdated technology that is not integrated across all channels and services.

Finally, companies must then conclude if the best approach to developing a premium technology support service is to “build or buy.” If a retailer has some form of call center support in place, should they use those existing resources?  Or, would a retailer be better served by working with a premium technology support provider that can address those customer inquiries?  The most successful premium technology support providers are the ones that can ultimately deliver an integrated customer experience, offer out-of-scope problem resolution, and at the very same time, help businesses lower their support costs.  

Only after completing this evaluation can a retailer properly determine the best course of action for implementing a customer support program that is capable of truly combating showrooming.

A Key Differentiator In The Fight Against Showrooming: The Mobile Experience

Almost one billion connected devices were shipped last year and that number is expected to double by the second half of the decade. As mobile devices become more and more ubiquitous, premium technical support will be required to do the same and allow consumers instant access to dedicated experts who can help them with their technical needs. Retailers can use this to their advantage not only just to improve post-purchase customer service, but also to help lock in sales on the showroom floor. 

Consider the customer currently roaming the showroom floor of your neighborhood retail establishment. Said customer is sizing up a number of televisions made by several different manufacturers and is not quite sure which purchase makes the most sense. While roaming the floor, the connected consumer can look up a preferred choice of television online to find a better deal, or seek the advice and support of a technical expert on a mobile device. Based upon the customer profile the support team has on file, a dedicated agent can help the consumer make the best choice for the consumer with a home technology ecosystem already in mind. This also allows for up-selling and cross-selling, as it provides the opportunity to recommend complementary products such as required add-ons (HDMI cables, etc.) and optional services (warranty, installation, etc.) available in-store from the very same retailer.

Critical Changes For Critical Times

Today, more than ever, it is critical for retailers to make changes to their business in order to support the ever-evolving needs of today’s connected consumer. Providing quality technical support that improves the customer experience while establishing more realized customer relationships is an investment retailers — especially brick-and-mortar operations — must make in order to stay in today’s market. With the proper system in place, retailers can improve existing customer relationships, gain new ones and maximize the bottom line. Retailers that recognize this and plan accordingly will undoubtedly fare better than the competition.   

EVPsJordan Socran is VP business development at Radialpoint, which helps technology brands grow revenue by creating and managing white-label services businesses.