How to leverage digital trends to help meet customer retail expectations

How to leverage digital trends to help meet customer retail expectations

Retail – Workplace November 2017

Space Race

We’ve all had to accept that the retail environment is forever changed with the far-reaching impact that the online market – and the digital space in general – has had on the sector.

The Microsoft 2017 State of Global Customer Service Report addresses the ideas around using online portals to engage with and build relationships with customers.

You know how the old-school retail model insisted that the customer is always right? Well, not much has changed, really. It’s still a good motto for retailers to live by.

Starting with the premise that customer service is an “engine” that drives wallet share, brand loyalty and the future of any business, Microsoft polled 5,000 people from Brazil, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States about their retail service expectations.

The key takeaways from the report are:

1. Customer service is a key driver of customer loyalty – 96% of respondents said superior customer service is important in their choice of, and loyalty to, a brand. Businesses should be seeking customer feedback, engaging across social channels and providing proactive and predictive support.

2. Online self-service options that allow customers to get answers and resolve issues on their own is escalating, but well-informed sales agents are vital when customers hit a road bump in their online experience. Sales agent assistance needs to be accessible, timely and able to provide an effective solution.

3. Every region and every generation has jumped aboard the online retail train and they’re engaged across multiple channels. As the early adopters and influencers, millennials are seen as pivotal to any evolving customer service strategy. The Microsoft report found that 74% of millennials say social media responsiveness improves their perception of a brand. Further, 79% of millennial respondents have a more favourable view of brands that offer a mobile-responsive customer support portal.

Every day customers are finding new ways to interact with brands and businesses, so keeping up with emerging trends in the digital space will be crucial to a business’s ongoing success.

Social listening is the new normal. Building relationships with customers and engaging with them through multiple digital channels is one thing – but responding effectively to complaints in the social space is becoming so important. Today it’s less about the face-to-face word-of-mouth sharing of experiences and service delivery and more about the quick-fire spread of information and feedback through very public online channels.

Retailers and businesses are encouraged to front-foot criticism and comments and to show a willingness to remedy any problem quickly. Businesses need to be active in the spheres where their customers are active and be mindfully responsive to issues when they crop up.

Sites like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are great for marketing and advertising products and services – but businesses need to be prepared for any negative kick-back and know how to engage efficiently with this. Knowing when to take a discussion offline is also vital.

The online retail space is a given today – but how your business responds to the service challenges it opens up will be indicative of how well your business will ultimately perform.

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