Retail squeeze puts customer service centre stage
The current recession is claiming more victims amongst hard-pressed retailers, with Game the latest company to file for administration. And new figures show that it is not just bricks and mortar retailers that are suffering, as UK ecommerce growth is also slowing. While UK shoppers spent £5.4 billion online in February 2012, this was the weakest growth since January 2010, with sales only climbing by 10%.
Obviously this is still growth in a beleaguered sector, but does demonstrate the increasing competition online. Interestingly much of this growth is coming from pureplay online only and catalogue retailers as opposed to multichannel companies.
Against this backdrop customer service becomes even more important – if consumers are unhappy about the service they receive or simply can’t find answers to their questions they will have no qualms about clicking elsewhere. From Eptica’s experience working with retailers across Europe, we’re believe here are three areas that retailers need to focus on to win and retain customers:
1 Understand the journey
Do you know how your customers navigate your site and the journey from browsing to purchase? Run focus groups to map this out amongst your key demographic groups and make it as easy as possible for them to access the right information and answers to buy from you.
2 Be joined up
Multichannel retailers have to provide consistent information across every channel, which can be difficult to do. Make sure the experience and answers customers receive are the same whether they are online, in the shop or on the phone with a centralised knowledgebase.
3 Single view of the customer
Forcing customers to re-enter information or explain themselves again to a customer service agent when they change channels is a huge frustration. Integrate your systems to share customer information across channels – not only does this help consumers, but it gives you a more comprehensive view of customer behaviour.
4 Use your data
Retailers have more and more information available to them about customer behaviour – use this to tailor your operations to best fit their needs. For example if lots of people are asking if your new shirt comes in red, why not introduce a version in that colour? Put in place the processes to mine this data and act on it as quickly as possible.
With the retail landscape continuing to look challenging, delivering excellent customer service is critical to thriving in the downturn.