Retail Customer Service

How can you innovate for Retail Customer Service in 2016 ?

With businesses worldwide transforming rapidly, customer service methodologies are also witnessing transformation. With the onslaught of technology, conventional styles of business conduct are no longer prevalent in the competitive market place. Companies like Zendesk focus on improving customer relationships with the power of technology. While basics like first identifying and understanding your customer are still crucial, the tools available to engage with them have transitioned over time.

The retail industry is in reality an enigma to most. It is governed by local conditions, trends, preferences, cultures, etc. Adapting to such complexities and relating to your customer is a challenge particularly when you are a global brand operating in multiple markets. Unfortunately there is no easy solution for this problem, but requires more of an insight driven approach taking into consideration prevailing market conditions and making use of the tools at your disposal creatively.

Take for example leading Ecommerce players in India such as Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon. They are all competing for share of voice during the festive season of Diwali in India, which is the prime shopping season. During this period one can see entire sections of newspapers with full page advertisements and pull outs by these companies. What this has resulted in is sensational news headlines such as – Flipkart makes record of $300 million sales in five days; Xiaomi sells over 500,000 phones in a week; Snapdeal sees highest ever single day sales, etc. This is just the tip of the iceberg and is only a sign of the things to come. The big question they are all trying to answer is how to reach the incredibly informed technology empowered consumer?

It is well understood that in building customer relationships there can never be a one-size fits all approach. Be it voice support, chat, email, message – customers portray clear preferences on their comfort zones. And it is no secret that customers in turn expect this as a minimum from their retailers. The year 2016 can expect added pressure on building better customer relationships across a range of channels. Retailers should in fact grab this opportunity and look to innovate rather than succumb to the challenges.

Tips on how retail customer service can be superior:

Need to build better customer relationships: Irrespective of the industry or the sector one must aspire to leave customers happy. The foundation for any strong customer relationship is mainly based on behavioral insights gleaned from understanding your customer and their needs. By factoring in these intricate qualities, developing relationships becomes easy and manageable in any scenario.

Eye on the future: How can one predict what lies ahead for retail customer service? According to a survey conducted in 2015 by Walker and Sands in the US, the study showed that 66 percent of retail customers are prone to virtual shopping through virtual reality devices like Occulus Rift. Interestingly the study also showed that 88% of the consumers also trusted drone based delivery for select products. With that in mind, what is in store for the retail customer of the future?

Featured below is a synopsis of what leading industry experts believe the future holds.

Mobile devices and beyond: In the US at least 68 percent consumers shop online once a month, which is a marked increase from 62 percent about a year ago. The study also shows that 28% make purchases online at a frequency of once a month. Most of these transactions are done on mobile devices, which reflects the growing importance of mobile for retail customers. Adapting to this ‘technology enabled customer’ is an added dimension for retailers and one must take into account factors like the age and economic profile of mobile savvy customers, the triggers in decision making, the UI conducive for mobile shopping, etc.

Understanding your Target Consumer:  Leading FMCG companies are known to insist that their respective brand managers spend a fair share of their working hours among customers in order to observe their buying preferences, influencing factors and just about any behavioral patterns. This is no different when it comes to understanding the new age customer. Developing solutions that suit your customer behavior patterns such as technology support across messaging, live chat and voice will be key to the success of building strong retail customer relationships.

Providing market Intelligence and analytics: With the plethora of business channels available today and the transitioning customer landscape, it is virtually impossible to do all the number crunching and analysis without the help of predictive analysis software support. Investing in backend support to take care of your market projections and trends will also be a key driver for you moving forward.

What this article goes to show is that building customer relationships is a science of sorts. It can be mastered by staying on top of market trends and by adopting new age tools and technologies, supported by business insights. With the complexities of retail businesses thrown in, it is easy to get confused when adopting tools to manage this. However sticking to your strengths and adopting a collaborative approach is typically the recommended success mantra. Read more Insightful Articles.

How can you innovate for Retail Customer Service in 2016 ?
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