Entrepreneurs

How To Meet Customer Expectations This Holiday Shopping Season

With COVID-19 accelerating digital engagement transformation efforts by six years on average, a strong customer service holiday shopping strategy takes on an even greater urgency for 2020. Today’s consumers rank customer service as the second most important attribute they consider when shopping, right below price. And during the throes of holiday shopping, retailers can’t afford to let a poor customer service experience cast their brand in an unflattering light. 

Kustomer recently surveyed more than 550 consumers in the U.S. to better understand what they expect from the customer experience, where organizations are falling short, and how expectations have shifted across generations. According to our research, 79% of consumers say customer service is extremely important when deciding where to shop. Based on these insights, here’s what retailers need to consider putting in place to keep up with customers’ growing demands:

Customer satisfaction is key to driving revenue.

Customer service can be the difference between a lifelong customer and one lost to the competition. In fact, a whopping 85% of consumers said they would avoid doing business with an organization due to bad customer service, and 81% of consumers would abandon a purchase due to bad service. While retailers and food and beverage companies feel this pain the most, with 60% of consumers reporting that they have sworn off of a brand in those industries due to a negative experience, organizations in every vertical need to think carefully about the impact poor support experiences can have on the customer experience. This means taking swift action when responding to complaints, since 57% of consumers say they post on social media after a bad customer experience. 

The right tools can help deliver customer service in real-time.

Today’s customers expect and demand immediate service, which can be especially challenging during peak holiday shopping season. Nonetheless, 71% of consumers believe their problem should be solved immediately upon contacting customer service, even though 52% report that they’ve experienced hold times longer than fifteen minutes. The good news is that thanks to automation and artificial intelligence (AI), businesses now have the opportunity to provide more self-service options, freeing up agent time for complex and proactive support. In fact, 53% of consumers prefer self-service over talking to a company representative. Tools like chatbots are growing in popularity with both businesses and consumers, with 53% of consumers saying that chatbots improve the customer experience and 42% reporting that they would be willing to buy a product or service from a chatbot. 

Prioritizing empathy and humanity can elevate the customer experience.

As consumers are feeling more stress and anxiety than ever before, empathy takes on an increasingly important role in the overall customer service experience. According to our survey, 69% of consumers expect an organization to prioritize their problem if they are upset, and more than half of consumers expect a business to personalize how they interact. To respond empathetically and create a meaningful customer relationship, companies should strongly consider implementing a customer service platform that aids agents in attaining these goals. For example, a platform that uses sentiment analysis and intelligent routing to move upset or loyal customers to the front of the line, and that allows agents to see customer history, issues and behavior in context, can help retailers deliver what customers need. 

Proactive communication can provide measurable results.

Our survey clearly showed that consumers expect retailers to know how they’ve interacted in the past and what issues they’ve encountered. Whether it is a winter storm delaying a shipment, a new safety policy, or a fulfillment issue, more than three-quarters of consumers expect companies to proactively follow-up and reach out to them if there is a problem. Proactive communication can provide even more value when used for actions like reengaging unhappy or complacent customers, and building brand loyalty with targeted offers. 

Omnichannel is different from multichannel.

Multichannel support means offering customers more than one method for contacting customer service, but simply being available is no longer enough. Omnichannel support provides customers the freedom to move between channels, and guarantees consistency, so each conversation starts where the last ended, enabling a more effortless and seamless experience. With 79% of consumers reporting frustration when they can’t contact customer service through their preferred medium or platform, and 64% of consumers having had to repeat information multiple times when contacting customer service, an omnichannel support strategy can help organizations focus on customer relationship building versus ticket resolution. 

Meeting expectations of Gen-Z consumers should be a factor.

Good customer service was ranked as the number one attribute when choosing where to do business, even above price, for consumers aged 18-24. Gen-Z consumers are also more willing to pay a premium for good service. At the same time, these savvy consumers rate customer service as slower, more difficult, less personal, and less convenient than all other age groups, meaning that current customer service strategies are falling short. Investing more heavily in self-service tools and chatbots to play into the “help yourself” mentality will be key for today’s savvy Gen-Z customer. Encouragingly, 62% of consumers aged 35 and younger believe chatbots improve the customer experience and 51% are willing to buy products and services from a chatbot.

With the holiday shopping season around the corner and consumers being forced to be more conscious and discerning about where they spend their dollars, the right customer service strategy and tools can help retailers deliver what consumers expect from customer service organizations. In turn, a customer is no longer a problem to be solved, but a relationship to be built, just in time for the holidays.

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