Many retailers view customer care as only a cost, but if it's combined with customer experience, big data, and predictive analytics, customer care can actually generate revenue.
Transforming customer care into a revenue-generator hinges on developing a new system that arms customer care agents with intelligence that's widely available yet rarely shared. It relies on information gleaned from the constant signals customers provide based on multiple experiences with brands across multiple touchpoints.
Retail marketers often use these signals to develop customer journeys that are seamless, relevant, authentic, and omnichannel. Too often, however, that data gets siloed within the marketing department and the entire organization. It's a missing link that needs to be shared with the customer care team.
Unlocking this information for the customer care team can spur personalized engagements. That, in turn, helps resolve complaints, increase Net Promoter Scores, improve customer satisfaction, create loyalty, and, yes, grow profits.
Here are 4 tips to help you get started:
1. Unlock information.
Marketers consider intelligent one-to-one communications with their customers to be the Holy Grail. It allows them to use the right message or offer at the right time through the right channel. To achieve this, marketers analyze data, creating a 360-degree view of their customers. This provides a blueprint of customer intelligence, leading to insights that drive strategic marketing plans.
Customer care agents, meanwhile, routinely have that one-to-one communication with customers. Unfortunately, they often lack the analytics needed to guide customers' journeys. Agents know only basic information about customers and, therefore, focus mostly on solving issues as quickly as possible.
Why not give customer care agents the tools needed to become integrated parts of the customer experience? This would help customer care create customer journeys that are seamless, relevant, authentic, and omnichannel.
We worked with a fashion retailer, for instance, helping customer care agents see customers' purchase histories so they could tailor product recommendations accordingly. As a result, sales conversion climbed from 15 percent to 25 percent, the basket size increased by 7 percent, and the average handle time dropped by 23 percent.
2. Spur personalized engagements.
A long-standing mantra for retailers has been "know your customer." Businesses have started evaluating and segmenting data to better understand and predict their customers' buying behaviors. As a result, it's changed their strategies. Rather than rely on product-centric programs, retailers are rapidly focusing on how to enhance the customer experience. No matter what communication channel they use, when businesses personalize shopping effectively, it creates brand loyalty with their customers.
Consider intelligent Web sites. They collect user data and, based on customers' preferences, they dynamically present different retail offerings.
So as omnichannel marketers and ecommerce leaders make this shift, why does this rarely carry over to customer care? Customer care agents need more knowledge about customers to design, execute, and optimize personalized experiences across channels and devices.
3. Equip customer care agents with an automated set of intelligence to make real-time recommendations.
After unlocking information, it's time to provide customer care agents with key intelligence. Doing so enables personalization and, more important, extends the customer experience journey through the customer care channel.
Agents need new tools to provide customers consistent, relevant, authentic, and timely experiences. These tools provide agents information, intelligence, and recommendations in real time so they can be efficient and effective.
After unlocking information from multiple silos within the company, the intelligence must be integrated with agent dashboards to make personalization possible. Dashboards must include data and analytics, providing a 360-degree view of the customer and automating the information needed for personalized customer experiences. This is accomplished through the integration of a customer engagement management platform. What's most important about the platform is it provides robust business intelligence tools to measure the outcomes of customer engagements. Capturing and understanding those outcomes enables retailers to incorporate customer voices into their customer experience design. That means more relevant, more meaningful interactions. In time, that also means more long-term customer loyalty and advocacy.
The platform's tools help customer care agents do the following:
- Pick data from disparate sources;
- Correlate the data and enrich individual customer profiles;
- Provide cross-dimensional views from customers' viewpoints;
- Interface and deliver relevant recommendations (next-best actions); and
- Deliver these actions to the customers at their preferred touch points with context and relevance.
The result is an optimized, efficient experience for agents and seamless and desirable customer care experiences.
4. Measure success beyond the traditional customer satisfaction scores.
As the standard of retail customer care becomes more consistent and homogenous, the traditional customer satisfaction measure (C-SAT) becomes less helpful. The more powerful tool is Net Promoter Score (NPS). Customers' willingness to promote services or products to friends and family (the most powerful form of marketing) means retailers' brand commitments to their customers have been recognized and fulfilled. Earning that loyalty means customers stay longer and spend more.
Edward Kowalski is associate vice president of retail marketing at Sutherland Global Services.