Foster loyalty with interactive engagement across channels

Brands are transitioning from helping customers in an efficient yet seemingly transactional way, to understanding and engaging with each customer as an individual
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Despite the difficult economic environment, retailers remain committed to customer service. In fact, a new report finds that retailers are confident that they can retain and grow their customer relationships through investments in customer service that foster deeper engagement.

However, the report, which draws on insights from an online survey of 303 customer experience professionals across 11 international markets, suggests that retailers are having mixed success when it comes to achieving their current goals for customer service. The recruitment and retention of customer-facing staff and the integration of new technologies are the top barriers that must be addressed before businesses can fully benefit from interactive engagement with customers.

The report, called The Future of Retail Customer Service, is published by Talkdesk, a global cloud contact centre leader for customer-obsessed companies. “Consumers today are looking for more value for their money as inflation cuts into their disposable income,” says Antonio Gonzalez, Talkdesk’s head of industry research and insights.

“Spending habits are under evaluation as consumers reconsider which purchases are important to them. The bar is getting higher for brands to demonstrate why they should remain a part of their customers’ lives. Thankfully, brands recognise the stakes, and they’re rising to them.”

It follows, then, that customer retention is becoming a bigger focus than winning new customers. As many as 58% of retail CX professionals said that growing revenue is the most significant factor influencing their company’s investments in customer service, aligning with the findings of a survey of cross-industry CX professionals that found that 54% of organisations rate customer retention as the primary desired outcome from investments in customer service software.

What’s more, retailers are going beyond just understanding and addressing the context behind customer interactions to being able to deliver ongoing, interactive engagement, the Talkdesk report reveals. Growth in channels such as voice-based AI, live-streaming (video) and the metaverse point toward a growing emphasis on interacting with customers in new and engaging ways.

The bar is getting higher for brands to demonstrate why they should remain a part of their customers’ lives

But interactive engagement is unlikely to meaningfully deepen customer relationships if each interaction does not feel part of a cohesive, ongoing experience. To accomplish this, retailers must address gaps in customer data collection and use. Unfortunately, the survey reveals that 50% of brands are not yet tracking their customers’ product inquiries or issues, and 57% are not using customer data to personalise future service interactions.

The Talkdesk report indicates that integrating channels and workflows is a critical part of embedding interactive engagement. Historically, many organisations have taken a piecemeal approach to investing in “best in breed” solutions to address specific needs. Consequently, many capabilities and systems are poorly compatible. Cloud capabilities, with their additional flexibility, are increasingly preferred for ease of integration with existing systems. These capabilities can be deployed as an all-in-one platform or standalone, with pre-built integrations designed to fit in with existing solutions.

The report also highlights the importance of tracking customer interactions across journeys. Gaps in customer data collection can be addressed through the implementation of interaction analysis, customer feedback and real-time experience sensors. Text and speech analytics applied across channels can deepen understanding of customer issues.

Connecting insight to output is key, the report concludes. Insights from customer interactions should be used to inform future interactions, ensuring that customers feel each touchpoint is part of a broader ongoing experience.

“Challenges relating to staffing and technology integration are likely near-universal today,” says Gonzalez. “In working to address these issues today, retailers will position themselves to keep and build upon loyal relationships with consumers – whatever their customer service approach.”

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