Extending retail customer service
The retail landscape is now extremely complex. In an omnichannel world companies need to provide excellent, consistent customer service across a growing range of channels. However retailers don’t always have 100% control of every part of their operations. Logistics are outsourced to courier companies, contact centres can be run by third party providers and the infrastructure behind some new services (such as energy, insurance and banking) are handled by specialists in that industry.
Additionally, as retailers seek to increase their range of products they are turning to marketplace style operations with third party merchants selling through them. Operations such as Amazon Marketplace, eBay and now Rakuten Play benefit by offering consumers greater choice without retailers needing to hold inventory of less popular products.
However as far as the consumer is concerned they are buying from a particular retailer – so they rightly expect the same high level of service across every channel irrespective of whether it is provided by a partner or the company itself. Reflecting this, eBay has just introduced new standards for sellers, including new mobile friendly pictures, a new returns policy and international delivery tracking.
With retailer’s ecosystems widening, what can they do to ensure that the customer experience is consistently high, whoever is delivering it? Here are four ways that Eptica believes technology can help.
1 Extend your knowledge
Many retailers have centralised their existing customer service information into a single knowledgebase that is available through web self-service, chat and to contact centre agents answering phone calls and emails. Extend this so that your partners can access either the whole knowledgebase or just relevant parts to ensure they give a consistent, efficient service that reflects your brand values.
2 Joined up workflow
f there is an issue customers don’t care who is to blame – they simply want a solution. So join up your customer service systems with your partners to make it easy to escalate consumer queries to relevant staff. Make sure you have monitoring in place to ensure they answer within your stated timescales and in a professional manner that reflects your brand values.
3 Provide clear information
Make it easy for consumers to see what is happening across the customer journey by providing clear information on the entire process. For example include the ability to track a delivery by a logistics partner without them having to leave your website. This reinforces the customer experience and shows your ownership of the journey relationship.
4 Monitor and enforce
Your brand is precious, meaning it is vital that partners don’t tarnish it. Put clear standards in place that they must adhere to and, in the case of problems, make it simple for customers to escalate complaints to you directly. Monitor social media for any issues and ensure they are dealt with quickly, rather than seen as someone else’s problem.
The extended retail landscape offers increased choice to consumers and greater efficiency for retailers. However it is vital that customers receive a consistent, high quality experience across every channel and partner if it isn’t going to negatively impact your brand.