How to empower the customer experience with customer relationship software
Why do people choose to shop with specific merchants? This is a question that has long haunted retailers – is it because they like the variety of product offerings? Low prices? Customer service and knowledgeable sales floor associates? A snazzy website? A unique experience? There are literally dozens of factors that may contribute to initial impressions of merchants and whether people choose to shop with a merchant in the future.
A recent study conducted by Vanessa DiMauro and Don Bulmer in conjunction with The Society for New Communications Research looked to answer some of those questions with hard facts. While the report did acknowledge the notion that there is no definitive answer to those questions, it did identify a few common factors that drive customers to form certain impressions of brands.
The top three takeaways are product quality, cost and how attentive customer services are. As many as 99 percent of respondents said quality was at least mildly important, while 99 percent and 97 percent noted the same of product prices and effectiveness of customer care programs, respectively.
Ensuring the customer is king (or queen) in retail
It seems straightforward – for almost as long as retail has existed, customer service has always been near the top of priorities. Having a wide breadth of products and services or offering low prices are great ways to get people shopping, but ultimately, these people are not going to come back if customer service cannot answer their questions.
Although product quality and cost were top factors when it came to forming initial impressions, The Society for New Communications Research report found that customer service trumps all when it comes to fostering loyalty. The study asked an open-ended question about what factors cause people to be “loyal” to a company. Although respondents answered with a slew of different answers, quality of service was among general sentiment. For example, some of the common responses included “pleasant in-store interactions,” “easy to do business with” and “listens and responds to issues.”
Conversely, negative customer experiences may result in shoppers airing their grievances publicly. The study found as many as 77 percent of people said they occasionally published opinions of a company after a negative experience online through forums and other channels.
Empowering the customer experience through customer relationship software
Customer service gets even more complicated when merchants consider all the different ways people expect to be able to interact with retailers. Gone are the days when customer service only occurred over the phone or in-person at brick-and-mortar stores. Service representatives must now be available through live chat at retail websites, email, social media and numerous other channels.
This can present even more problems when it comes to identifying who a customer is. For instance, say a shopper sends an email to the brand – how can agents know whether this person is a regular shopper in-store unless they have registered his or her email address? This can create issues with highly customized and personalized experiences.
At the end of the day, effective customer service demands a two-pronged response. Agents must be friendly and accommodating, but they must also be armed with customer relationship software that allow them to quickly identify customers via specific profiles and service them adequately.