Authored by Mike Sloman, Business Development Director at Arvato CRM Solutions
Technology is revolutionising retail customer experience (CX).
However, brands must be careful not to over-rely on digital tools at the expense of CX as a whole. Customers want speed, accuracy and personalisation, but not if it means a service that feels cold and without a human touch.
Part of achieving this is balancing the unique skills and capabilities of human agents with the speed and analytical power of technology – using the right resource, at the right time, to get the right outcome.
How can retailers get this balance right? And what benefits can it deliver?
Before beginning any process of transformation, it’s essential that retailers understand where technology can make the biggest impact – and where humans should instead be prioritised.
We work with our clients to provide an in-depth analysis of frequently asked questions, voice and text analytics insight and customer journey and process mapping to understand how their customers use every touchpoint.
From here, we then pinpoint where human teams and technological tools can each be deployed to achieve a brand’s desired customer experience outcomes.
In certain areas, this will be best delivered through a clear division of responsibilities.
A good example of this is ‘transactional processes’ – simple, day-to-day requests or enquiries, such as queries about opening times, the status of an order or a brand’s return policies.
For some brands, human agents will be solely responsible for responding to these on a case-by-case basis.
But by using tools such as chat bots, voice bots, cognitive IVR and intelligent automation instead, they can significantly reduce the number of customer contacts an agent will have to handle.
This means human teams can spend more time focussing on the more complex, emotive, and higher-value customer enquiries that technology isn’t as suited to addressing.
At the same time, it can help reduce customer effort by resolving questions quickly and unlock significant cost savings. In our experience, the cost-per-transaction can be reduced by as much as 95 per cent in automated processes.
Shoulder to shoulder
But there are times where a blending of strengths is required – leveraging technology’s capabilities to help agents ultimately do their jobs better.
For example, we use intelligent automation to help our retail clients build rich, real-time databases containing information on everything from how they interact with a brand on social media to products they’ve recently purchased in-store – a 360-degree view of the customer.
We then integrate this with solutions such as artificial intelligence and predictive behavioural omni-channel routing to feed relevant customer data to agents in real-time, along with recommendations for next best actions.
When it comes to handling complaints, this can help agents source information quicker, making the process smoother for customers. It can even automatically review customer data – such as patterns of previous complaints or issues and suggest steps agents can take to proactively prevent further issues down the line.
Similarly, when it comes to sales the tools can analyse customer data and produce on-the-spot offers for a product that a customer’s browsing or purchasing history suggests they would want or need – helping convert initial interest into a purchase.
What the right balance of technology and human agents looks like will depend on the circumstances and CX challenges of each individual retailer.
Achieving it can pay real dividends, both to the quality of customer experience, and – through sales and retention – to business’ bottom lines.
At Arvato, we work with some of the world’s leading brands to help them augment their agents’ capabilities with digital solutions.
Contact us to find out more about how our tools and expertise could help your brand too: CRMSE@arvato.co.uk.