Earlier this year, Cisco completed its acquisition of imimobile, adding an enterprise-grade CPaaS platform to Cisco’s industry-leading collaboration and contact center solution portfolio. Our guest blogger this week is Dave Jennings, VP Strategic Solutions at imimobile.
With consumer behavior constantly evolving, customers want their interactions with businesses to be more seamless than ever. However, the retail industry, like many others, faces challenges to create the experiences that customers expect. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many customers tried new omnichannel purchasing models, with buying online and picking up in store (BOPIS) growing 28% year on year and grocery deliveries increasing by 57%. It is predicted by analysts that many of these new customer engagement models are here to stay.
The key challenges faced by retailers are:
1. Meeting customers where they are – putting customer convenience first
The ‘Amazon effect’ means that digital natives are starting to dominate the retail industry, with consumers expecting fast, effortless purchase experiences. Customers also want to communicate with businesses in the same way they do with their friends and family so brands must be available on the digital messaging channels their customers already use. Retailers must also be proactive in their communications to customers, if there is an issue with an order they must reach out proactively before the customer is forced to contact.
2. Delivering a future-proof, digital-first experience
The rapid shift from physical to digital has put pressure on retailers to swiftly move to real-time digital communication channels. Retail initiatives like BOPIS and curbside pickup saw a huge increase during the pandemic, but retailers must continue to evolve these experiences, moving away from email and app-based interactions to new messaging channels and location-based triggers.
3. Pressure to gain operational efficiencies
Many contact centers became overwhelmed during the pandemic with lengthy wait times leading to frustrated customers and stressed agents. Retailers must consider implementing solutions such as FAQ bots to deflect simple, repetitive inquiries as well as call deflection, so customers don’t have to wait on hold to speak to an agent. In addition, many store associates currently handle online order inquiries themselves, if a retailer uses digital messaging channels to handle them, it will enable staff to focus on helping customers in store.
At imimobile, we believe in creating smarter connections between retailers and their customers. Looking across the end-to-end customer journey helps retailers to improve operational efficiencies, increase revenue and create the best experience possible for customers. But, what does this journey look like in practice?
Discover & acquire
The first interaction with any customer is key. Retailers need to create conversational experiences with customers through interactive, rich messaging channels such as RCS Business Messaging and WhatsApp Business. Retailers must also use these digital channels to create personalized shopping experiences that are unique to every customer with targeted, data-driven marketing campaigns.
Purchase & conversion
To ensure that the customer converts, retailers must make it as easy as possible for customers to complete the purchase journey. By offering automated services such as BOPIS and curbside pickup, customers can collect their items at their own convenience. Retailers must also prompt shoppers to complete their purchase by sending proactive abandoned basket alerts via in-app or push notifications.
Care & support
Once the customer has completed a purchase, that doesn’t mean the retailers job is over. Retailers must ensure that customers are able to modify orders or delivery information with ease using self-serve AI chatbots. Empowering customers to find the answers they need without agent assistance reduces operational costs and increases customer satisfaction. However, retailers must ensure that any complex support inquiries are seamlessly handed over to human agents using digital messaging channels.
Retention & loyalty
Customer retention is just as important as customer acquisition. Retailers can improve their customer loyalty experience by offering mobile wallet cards and coupons that can update points and promotions in real-time and send location-based notifications. Allowing customers to have their say via automated feedback surveys promotes higher NPS and enables the brand to continuously understand their customers preferences.
How to get started
Retailers who want to provide seamless interactions across the entire customer journey must look to invest in a centralized communications platform. Low code platforms, like imiconnect, integrate with a retailers existing technology stack, therefore enabling them to eliminate data siloes whilst making the most out of existing investments.
By adopting a platform approach, retailers can orchestrate, automate and monitor their customer interactions across multiple different channels with ease – helping to create the connected, contextual experiences their customers expect.
To find out more about imimobile’s retail solutions and how we help leading businesses, in a diverse set of retail segments, connect their end-to-end customer journeys, get in touch with one of our retail experts today.