E-commerce and online shopping continue to increase in popularity among consumers. This shift has forced brands to enhance retail customer experience from the digital shopping cart to the retail contact center. Technology such as AI-powered retail virtual agents helps companies improve retail customer service and customer experience.
What is Retail Customer Experience?
Retail customer experience is the overall emotional result of touchpoints along the customer journey. For example, a customer purchasing groceries online navigates through several touchpoints that culminate in their overall experience.
The customer may begin on the store’s website or mobile app, where they browse products and fill their shopping cart. They then purchase the groceries through the app payment system and select their delivery timeframe. On the chosen day, the delivery service arrives with the groceries. The customer notices something is missing, so they contact the retail call center through the app, online portal, or telephone to resolve it. The retail call center agent apologizes and provides the customer with options, often a refund or discount for future purchases.
This common retail customer experience contains a variety of touchpoints that can make or break a customer’s loyalty. As such, successful retail customer engagement requires almost every part of your retail business to be aligned.
Why is Retail Customer Experience Important?
As previously mentioned, customer experience is vital to a customer’s loyalty. Given this, retail businesses frequently battle to differentiate themselves from the competition.
The potential to save money and browse a wide selection of products might initially attract customers to your brand. However, the retail customer experience can determine whether customers choose to be loyal to your brand or another. In fact, research shows that consumers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience. And 96% of customers will cut ties with a brand following bad service.
Customers instinctively gravitate towards brands that make them feel good and meet their expectations. Businesses that prioritize and invest in customer satisfaction will see an increase in brand loyalty.
Where can retail companies looking to improve customer experience start? In the contact center.
Starting with the Retail Contact Center
A contact center (or retail call center) is a central hub where customers interact with a brand. A contact center’s primary purpose is to offer customers efficient and effective technical support, customer service, and sales assistance. Contact centers typically support a variety of communications channels such as calls, emails, webchats, and social media. These contact centers are important across industries, as customers increasingly expect organizations to be consistently available whenever and wherever they need them.
To keep pace with evolving customer demands, retail contact centers must strive to improve productivity, efficiency, and customer satisfaction. This continuous improvement includes having the right technology in place to support agents and service customers’ evolving needs.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is one technology that helps contact centers evolve. It makes a notable difference when applied to common customer problems. For example, an AI-powered intelligent virtual agent (IVA) can answer dozens of customers at once and replicate human nuance. This means that interactions will be more accurate. As a result, human agents can focus on more challenging tasks and complex escalations. IVAs can also standardize service delivery, minimize agent training times, automate repetitive tasks, and maximize cost investments. IVAs can learn from your live agents’ expertise to continuously improve their ability to handle customer inquiries. IVAs deliver on what really matters to consumers. According to one study, 80% of American consumers point to speed, convenience, knowledgeable help, and friendly service.
What are Retail Virtual Agents?
Virtual agents for retail are an effective solution for retail contact centers. Like IVAs, they are AI-powered solutions that support customers along their journey and enhance the retail customer experience. A common example is the chatbots that pop up as an on-site widget to provide guidance to customers on purchasing decisions. They can answer common questions, route the customer to a human agent, make product recommendations, provide order information, and enable 24-hour support. Another example is the automated system that answers your call when you contact a brand. The virtual agent may ask you a few initial questions to understand your request before routing you to the next best action.
How Retail Virtual Agents Improve Retail Customer Service
Retail virtual agents improve retail customer service in a variety of ways including convenience, knowledgeable support, and nuanced human-like communication. They also enable self-service, streamline inquiry resolution, and deliver multi-channel support.
Enable Self Service
Today’s consumers gravitate toward self-service, which makes self-serve capabilities a high priority for the retail contact center. Customers typically answer yes or no questions that the retail virtual agent is programmed to understand. AI-enabled retail virtual agents don’t just open a chatbot window. They learn behavioral patterns, give the customer valuable options, and support voice conversations by sending mobile links. This means they can modify service and response options based on past interactions with a specific customer and all callers. Retail virtual agents can also manage common challenges customers face without the support of a live agent, which allows for self-service. Granting customers the ability to seek resolution on their own terms elevates the customer journey and also minimizes costs to the business.
Streamline Inquiry Resolution
Virtual agents for retail can support and streamline a variety of simple and seemingly complex customer inquiries. Some retail virtual agents are basic question-and-answer machines. They use scripted responses or direct customers to frequently asked questions (FAQ) pages. As such, an IVA can handle tasks including:
- Identify and verify customers
- Answer questions about products and services
- Schedule deliveries
- Send reminders and promotions
- Process payments
- Check inventories
- Place orders
- Update caller contact information
Modern, digital-first contact centers give retail call center agents a view into every customer interaction, so they can solve problems quickly. This minimizes the need to ask customers to repeat themselves or wait while the agent looks up information. Instead, agents can refer to case numbers that provide context on the customer journey to provide better customer service.
Deliver Multi-Channel Support
Today’s retail contact center agents engage across phone, email, and social channels – solving everything from technical issues to detailed product questions. IVAs help organizations manage the retail customer experience by delivering human-like messages across multiple channels. Multi-channel support improves retail customer service because it delivers convenience to customers and allows them to choose the method of communications they prefer.
For example, one customer may prefer to communicate via a website chat system. Another customer may prefer to text an agent for support. Retail call centers can deploy IVAs across a variety of channels (e.g., SMS text messaging, email, and website chat) to offer customers a flexible and engaging experience. At the same time, retail call centers can proactively route customers to the next best action. This escalation control relieves capacity issues for contact center agents, but it also helps drive revenue opportunities for the company.
Improve Retail Customer Service with Mosaicx
Intrado's Mosaicx conversational AI solution transforms retail customer experiences by helping retailers deploy virtual agents for retail customer service. Mosaicx delivers contextual and personal interactions at scale, making it easy for customers to find information and engage with brands. Additionally, Mosaicx equips retail contact centers with next-best-action suggestions and resolves customer inquiries on the first contact with a representative. Together, these capabilities reduce caller wait times.
With a combination of self-service options, streamlined inquiry resolution, and multi-channel support, your company can build a dynamic retail call center. By implementing a virtual agent for retail, your contact center will improve retail customer service, elevate the overall retail customer experience, and maintain a high level of customer loyalty.