The economic climate is challenging for both consumers and retailers. Staffing shortages in stores, in the back-office, and contact center roles will further challenge retailers in their efforts to provide exceptional customer experiences. At a time when customer retention is more critical than ever, leaning into automation tools and solutions is key to retailers winning over shoppers this holiday season.
Ways Retailers Can Win Over Shoppers This Holiday Season
As U.S. retailers prepare for the busy holiday shopping season, more than 60 percent say they are challenged to find qualified candidates to staff their stores, while 45 percent are struggling to fill contact center and back-office positions. These sobering statistics are from new research from Verint.
Faced with labor shortages and challenged to meet consumer demands for superior shopping experiences across numerous engagement channels, this year’s holiday shopping season may be a reckoning for retailers in realizing the new reality of the automation imperative.
Keeping Customers Coming Back for More
The customer experience is crucial to driving loyalty and at a time when global inflation has become one of the biggest issues facing consumers, leaving them with less disposable income, while maintaining “share of wallet” is critical for retailers.
New data, based on a survey of 2,000 U.S. consumers who had purchased from a mass market retailer from February to July 2022, shows the benefits of providing an exemplary customer experience.
According to the research, providing consumers with an amazing experience has many benefits – 88 percent are likely to make a repeat purchase, 82 percent are likely to recommend to friends or family, 68 percent are likely to join a loyalty program, and 63 percent said they are likely to write a positive review.
However, a negative customer experience can send shoppers packing. The top reasons that consumers were likely to stop purchasing from a retailer included: if a customer service issue isn’t resolved in a single attempt (62%), if unable to communicate on their channel of choice (57%), if forced to repeat themselves (55%), and if they have to endure long wait times (50%).
The Merits of Automation on Improving Customer Experience
Many retailers are recognizing the value of automation to improve customer experience. Not only does automation help offset the issues of staffing shortages, but it also enables employees to work smarter with their time, not harder. Artificial intelligence (AI) powers these tools to help remove repetitive “grunt” work, keeping employees happy for improved job satisfaction while delivering exceptional experiences.
For the customer, automation empowers the growing preference for self-service options for swift and easy access to a resolution or inquiry. At the same time retailers can also scale customer engagement with automation.
For example, conversational AI platforms that combine both intelligent automation and agent-assisted service result in fewer inquiries needing a human response. Used as a frontline triage, bots can resolve repetitive, simple issues, allowing highly skilled agents to handle high-value interactions. This means that although you enable customer conversations over more channels, volumes are kept at a manageable level through service bots with a human agent just a handoff away.
Four Steps to Bridge the Automation Gaps
When it comes to deploying automation, the biggest gaps lie in the contact center, the hiring process, and private messaging for customer engagement at scale. Retailers should consider the following:
- Automate contact center operations
- Employ intelligent hiring solutions for streamlined staff acquisition and assessment
- Lean into private messaging and automation to scale this highly personalized channel
Meet capacity through conversation containment