Just how much do people value a high-quality customer experience (CX) nowadays?
According to research by PWC, consumers are willing to pay up to a 16% price premium for a product or service that comes with a superior customer experience. They’re also likelier to try additional services or solutions from brands that provide a better CX. What’s more, according to the 2021 Achieving Customer Amazement Survey Report from Shep Hyken, 75% of Americans are more likely to be loyal to a company that delivers personalized customer service, while 83% would switch brands because of a bad experience.
With this data comes a message — or perhaps more of an ultimatum — from consumers to retailers: Give us exceptional experiences and we’ll reward you with loyalty and wallet-share. We may even pay a premium for your product or service, and rave about you to our friends. But if you fall short of expectations, we won’t hesitate to take our business elsewhere.
Retail enterprises that excel at delivering personalized and meaningful experiences tend to be laser-focused on supporting not only their customers but also their customer-facing teams with better omnichannel communications tools. Recognizing that the quality of the CX reflects the quality of the EX (employee experience), organizations are actively turning to solutions that support and fortify both.
Contact center as a service, or CCaaS, is one such tool. It’s a set of capabilities that connects all of a company’s touch points — voice, website, mobile app, etc. — and sustains the context of each customer interaction across multiple digital channels so they move smoothly through their journey.
Today, CCaaS is helping enterprises raise their EX and CX game in six critical areas:
- Giving organizations the versatility to fulfill consumers’ expectation for a harmonious and truly personalized omnichannel brand experience. Today’s shoppers expect smooth and natural conversations and interactions that can jump from text to chat to phone without missing a beat. But not only do they expect their journeys to be frictionless, they want them to be personalized. An omnichannel contact center enables an organization to learn about, and cater to, individual preferences. For example, if a customer previously engaged with a retailer via online chatbot, the retailer’s CCaaS system would know to route that customer directly to a live messaging channel. Likewise, it can detect nuance to tailor responses to a certain customer who responded positively to a script with a light, playful tone — “Wow, that’s a cute outfit. We’re sorry it didn’t fit. I will provide you with a return label for an easy-peasy return.” — and another who responded well to a more businesslike tone.
- Empowering customer service teams to excel at, and be more productive in, their work. Visibility and control are critical to your customer service employees’ ability to consistently deliver an outstanding CX, and CCaaS can provide contact center agents and administrators with both, so they can monitor and manage the customer journey. By integrating previously siloed information and processes, omnichannel capabilities simplify employee workflows and enable agents to balance requests through connected channels so they can work to address more complex issues and bring real added value to customers. With an intelligent CCaaS system that provides advanced skills-based routing, administrators can auto-route incoming customer communications to the most suitable agent based on call priority, agent proficiency and availability.
- Enabling organizations to respond to a surging customer service workload with a blended machine + human journey. Retailers are facing a perfect storm of sorts: A shortage of quality workers just as the demands on their customer service teams are increasing. More online orders mean higher return rates, and thus more customer interactions. Meanwhile, retailers are rapidly rolling out new customer-focused approaches (BOPIS, pickup lockers, self-serve checkout/kiosks, mobile pay, etc.), which can put an additional strain on customer service teams. CCaaS automation capabilities enable them to handle more traffic, with auto-routing of simple inquiries to digital assistants/chatbots and agents available to triage cases that warrant a human touch.
- Providing timely, actionable insight into the entire customer journey. How is an organization to know — and be able to act upon — the strengths and weaknesses of its CX if it lacks access to relevant data and insight from various touch points along the customer journey? A CCaaS solution should enable an organization to easily track every experience via a single source of data truth and analytics that tell the story of each customer’s interaction, while also providing insight into bigger-picture CX trends, so it can map and refine customer journeys across channels.
- Helping enterprises maximize their resources. How to deliver a superior CX in the face of pressures like inflation and a labor shortage? By getting more from the technology and resources you do have. By bundling multiple communications channels via multimedia licensing, CCaaS solutions can lower CX infrastructure costs and make them more predictable, while also improving functionality and productivity. Cloud-based omnichannel contact centers also offer the advantage of scalability — they can shrink or grow quickly in direct response to changes in volume.
- Providing heightened security around the communications network. Nothing can damage a company, its customers and its good name as quickly as a data breach. A CCaaS should ensure that all communications are encrypted, that data and information are stored on secure servers in the cloud, and that organizations that handle sensitive patient or customer data are compliant with requirements like SOC 2/3 and HIPAA.
A superior CX in retail is the result of a lot of moving parts — people, processes and technology — working in synch. CCaaS provides the framework for those parts to work in unison to meet and even surpass customers’ increasingly lofty expectations.
Grant Harland is a Retail, Restaurant and Hospitality Industry Analyst at Windstream Enterprise. He has more than 11 years of experience in retail, contributing to his deep knowledge around business development, technology, product development, sales and merchandising. His unique background in retail and SaaS businesses makes him a credible thought leader and voice of the retailer within Windstream Enterprise. Prior to being Retail Analyst at Windstream Enterprise, Harland spent two years as a senior consultant at retail management consulting firm Boston Retail Partners, where he delivered upon superior design and implementation of strategy, technology and process solutions. Before that, Harland spent eight years working for a retailer doing greater than $100 million dollars annually as a Senior Buyer and Business Development professional.