Despite the current economic outlook, 58 percent of retail marketers surveyed are investing in customer experience tools to drive revenue and evolving their customer service approach to deliver more interactive, unified engagements, new research from customer-focused cloud contact center Talkdesk reveals.
The firm’s newly released report, The Future of Retail Customer Service: Interactive and Unified, offers a view into the top industry priorities for customer service and addresses the roadblocks to delivering these experiences.
“For too long, many brands have deprioritized differentiation through service. What is promising to see is the pivot from cost reduction being a top consideration for CX investments. Instead, brands now understand the strategic importance of engaging service experiences as a way to drive growth and retention,” said Shannon Flanagan, vice president of retail and consumer goods at Talkdesk, in a news release. “While they’re committed to push beyond transactional and reactive customer service, their efforts are being stymied by talent and technology challenges. The latest [report] highlights the shifts in priorities and demonstrates ways brands can reach their CX goals today.”
Customer loyalty will be fostered by interactive engagement across channels
Although customer acquisition still ranks high in the list of desired outcomes, CX professionals across industries point to customer retention as the new North Star. To successfully drive shopper loyalty, brands must cultivate deeper relationships with customers by investing in channels that allow ongoing interactive engagement.
- Two in five respondents plan to invest in video chat (41 percent) and voice-based, artificial intelligence (AI) virtual agents (39 percent). Nearly a third (31 percent) say they will invest in livestream video channels, such as YouTube, Tiktok, and Twitch for customer support.
- One in four retailers (24 percent) plan to deliver consistent, interactive engagement via next-generation channels like the metaverse and support augmented or virtual reality interactions within two years, while 12 percent say they are already doing it today.
A shortage in customer-facing staff calls for rethinking customer service enablement
Retail attrition rates have worsened as a result of the “Great Resignation.” Survey participants cite this as the most significant hurdle to achieving their customer service ambitions. It is imperative, therefore, that retailers equip and empower staff to provide high-quality, engaging support to customers and connect that with meaningful career growth.
- A growing number of retailers are using nontraditional customer support channels. In fact, (35 percent) count brand ambassadors and influencers (29 percent) among the resources available to customers for handling questions and service inquiries.
- Consumers are already buying into this trend and more than a third (38 percent) of surveyed retailers say their customers prefer brand ambassadors and influencers to serve as their go-to resource for service and support.
Frictionless, personalized experiences depend on unified channels and analytics
Creating a connected, interactive, and unique customer journey requires fully integrating channels and bridging gaps in data collection and use. Notably, nine in 10 retailers (86 percent) describe their customer engagement channels as not fully integrated.
- Half of surveyed retailers currently collect data from emails or social media, with data collection from texting at a much smaller percentage (35 percent). Customer sentiment is only captured by 21 percent.
- A majority (57 percent) are not using any collected data to personalize future service interactions or marketing outreach, representing an unmined opportunity for making progress towards building both customer loyalty and the bottom line.
The Talkdesk Research quantitative online survey was conducted in October 2022 across 11 global markets including the U.S., Canada, Australia, Singapore, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, U.K., Brazil, and Mexico. Responses were collected from 303 CX professionals employed by retail and e-commerce organizations with more than 200 full-time employees. CX professionals represented leadership and management for customer service, CX operations, and contact center agents. The margin of error for the study has been calculated at 6% using a 95% confidence interval.