This holiday season looks to be a record-breaking one, coming on the heels of yet another wave of pandemic disruption. According to Deloitte, retailers can expect sales to increase by 7-9% — a very merry holiday, indeed. However, obstacles still loom. The supply chain isn’t smoothing out. Customers may still flock to big online retailers and avoid brick-and-mortar establishments.
COVID-19 has forced customer service to adapt. But with some creativity and a lot of data insight, retail customer experience (CX) leaders can overcome many of these holiday season challenges. Here’s what you need to know to stay ahead.
Retail CX Trends in 2021: Holiday Retail Challenges You Can Turn Into Opportunities
CX leaders understand that challenges will make this shopping season unique once again; but those who will thrive during the holidays possess an edge—the ability to see opportunity. Some of these “hidden” opportunities include:
Customer Service in Retail: 3 Ways to Solve Problems This Holiday Season
How can CX leaders stand out from the competition and maintain smooth retail workflows during a busy, unique holiday season? The short answer: by flipping the script.
1. Forget Transactions—Think About Experiences
It’s tempting to view the holidays through the lens of making transactions easier. But CX leaders can do more for customers beyond the transaction.
Imagine two stores offering the exact same in-demand product. Company A has a clunky online checkout—multiple steps, customers must create accounts beforehand, no guest checkout, no option to pick up in-store and no payment integrations. Company B offers a seamless checkout experience, including payment integrations for common payment tools like PayPal and Apple Pay and same-day in-store pickup options. Obviously, customers will choose Company B.
During the holidays, convenience translates to more time with family, less stress and less time spent in the hustle and bustle of the season. Store B is actively facilitating the kind of holiday shopping customers expect. CX leaders should start looking beyond the transaction to create better experiences for their customers.
2. Forget Traditional Waterfall Management—Adopt a Collaborative Approach
Traditional management takes a top-down approach to crafting retail policies and dealing with customers’ needs. Today’s CX leaders should look for opportunities to collaborate with teams on the ground, teams working in fulfillment and those in customer service.
Let’s bring back Company A and Company B. Company A gives store employees little leeway to make decisions on the fly for customers. The same is true for customer service agents. This impasse leaves both employees and customers frustrated. Company B allows in-store employees to make decisions concerning returns, discounts, sales strategies and customer resolutions. Customer service representatives also have more decision-making power to resolve customer complaints and needs quickly.
Customers are even more on edge during the holidays, wanting information, deliveries or returns handled yesterday. Company B empowers its employees to fulfill instantaneous customer expectations. Removing roadblocks to handling customers’ needs and requests creates great experiences.
3. Forget Fragmented Customer Service Models—Embrace Omnichannel Potential
During last year’s disrupted holiday season, stores lifted and shifted operations to embrace more online experiences and store pickup options. Customers liked this shift and will expect it to continue.
Picking on Company A (again!)—it dropped the ball on adopting an omnichannel approach at the right time. Its customers will struggle to finish their shopping and experience unruly wait times for customer service or pickup orders. By leveraging digital transformation in retail, Company B leaned into omnichannel experiences. Customer shopping remains seamless, whether online, with a mobile device or in-store. Company B makes optimum use of data to understand and anticipate customer needs. It also provides logical customer service solutions through a variety of channels, including visual IVR.
Additionally, Company B can leverage omnichannel experiences to encourage customers to shop early and complete online carts more often. A well-orchestrated omnichannel experience provides differentiation in a crowded market.
Crafting and Curating Solutions for a Busy Holiday Season
CX leaders who craft experiences for their customers can solve some of the most pressing problems to face them this holiday. Although we aren’t 100% back to normal, there’s a great chance that normal will never exist. And, in a way, that’s a good thing because companies have more opportunities to nurture relationships with their customers. This can lead them through disruption, but only if they’re willing to look beyond the short-term bottom line.
Uniphore offers innovative solutions that CX leaders can leverage during the holiday season, such as U-Self Serve for efficient 24/7 customer service and U-Trust, a service that makes agent verification even across large distributed teams a snap. To find out how AI and automation tools can level up customer experience this holiday season, check out our latest webinar, “Building the CX Tech Stack of the Future.”