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Author: Bappaditya Banerjee | 07/28/15

The Modern Retail Customer, Part 3 – The future of customer service-for you and your customers

As we discussed in the first two installments in this series, today’s consumers expects personalization, a seamless shopping experience and top-notch customer service. In our omnichannel environment, retailers that win on customer service are the ones that earn loyalty, reduce churn and get a greater share of the customer’s lifetime value. Let’s gaze into our crystal ball to find out about the future of the retail customer relationship.

Omnichannel across the board

It’s no longer enough to have only one or two ways to contact customer service. Purchasing has become an omnichannel, value-added, order- and delivery-anywhere experience, and customer service is following suit. Retailers now offer many ways to communicate with representatives, such as interactive voice response, at call centers, via email or chat, in person, at in-store kiosks or by using an app where you press a button and someone calls you. Maximizing omnichannel presence requires being open to new technologies, including virtual agents who can “chat” using natural language processing. Businesses also need to offer 24/7 service, no matter where the customer is.

Mindtree worked with a leading gaming company to provide an understanding of typical issues faced by gamers that prompt them contact the company’s call center. Mindtree optimized the frequently asked questions section of the client’s website, and this update reduced call volumes substantially.
In addition, the company used its integrated data analytics service with the client’s data platform to generate predictive customer insights. This analytics consulting engagement allowed the company to access and analyze playing patterns and feature usage, as well as make real-time recommendations for customer service agents in the call center to offer to gamers.

The platform not only helped provide a first-contact resolution for customer problems, but it also generated substantial cross-sell and upsell opportunities.

Where to draw the line

In the near future, retailers will get better at combining point-of-sale data with browse data and behavior, paying attention to what customers say on social media, and combining that data with knowledge of how customers interact with products in a store.

But many retailers struggle with where to draw the line – what information to gather, where to gather it and how to use it – at a time when using data in retail is a very young practice. According to the Mindtree Phy-gital Shopper Survey, customers appear to be willing to share personal data for a richer shopping experience, but only as long as it doesn’t invade their personal space. For example, most customers will share personal information with retailers in the moment that they’re interacting, but not when related ads show up on their Facebook timelines. In this retail dance, the customer wants strong cues in order to move confidently. On the other hand, if you step on any toes, your customer might decide to find another dance partner.

A good practice for striking this balance is to interweave online behavior with product recommendations and promotions, so customers feel empowered and engaged. British supermarket chain Tesco, for example, does this well: When a customer shows interest in an online recipe, the Tesco system automatically suggests the best ingredients for making it. The customer can purchase them all with a single click through to checkout – and receive a coupon for one of the ingredients.

Your service future

All this talk of integrated omnichannel shopping experiences and seamless customer service is irrelevant if retailers don’t use the technologies that make such personalization possible. How do companies stay far enough ahead in their digital initiatives to provide the kind of customer service that differentiates good retailers from great ones? As you examine your own customer data technologies, consider solution providers that:

  • Have been digital for more than a few years and have established a deep expertise
  • Believe in using open-source platforms for customer insight
  • Offer more than a handful of predictive algorithms and customer attributes
  • Use a variety of advanced visualization frameworks
  • Understand master data management (MDM) and use multiple MDM technologies
  • Offer expertise in content management systems

Most important, digital providers should not present you with out-of-the-box packages. They should support whichever model your company picks in order to ensure more value-added services. Ultimately, your company deserves solutions as personalized as the services you offer to your customers.

To find out more about the future of digital customer service, download the Mindtree e-book Are You Living in a Digital Fairy Tale? Make Digital Real.

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