Bringing the Human Touch to Omni-channel Retailing

The key to better customer service is to make the customer feel like they are effortlessly doing business with you. This means going further than accepting the tired phrase ‘the customer is always right’, it means actually thinking like a customer (i.e. ‘How does the customer want to interact with me?’) rather than projecting our own marketing objectives (i.e. ‘How do I want the customer to interact with me?’).

Consumers are more informed, savvy and vocal than ever. They demand a positive experience from retailers, or else they will leave. In fact, according to Lee Resources, a business consulting firm, 91% of unhappy customers will not willingly do business with the same company again.

In this digital, consumerist age, it seems it is more important than ever to ensure we are managing our customers’ questions, complaints and concerns in a practical and memorable way.

The importance of the human voice
According to a recent report from ResponseTap, a call tracking software company, the contact center is one of the most effective channels for delivering these positive customer experiences. 74 percent of respondents in the US said that speaking to an operator on the phone gives them peace of mind and confidence that they are getting exactly what they want, with 34 percent saying it makes them more likely to purchase.

Although we may live in an ‘always-on’ world, the human voice remains a vital touch point in the online purchasing journey, and in response to changing customer-driven trends, the contact center must evolve if it wants to be of value.

This means moving away from its traditional focus on voice and email-based customer service, into an omni-channel, context-aware customer engagement optimization platform.

Integrating an offline channel
The contact center, as an offline channel, is essentially much more difficult to integrate into your omnichannel marketing strategy. Whereas engagement on social media or instant messaging can easily be attributed to a previous impression or click on your website, the call center does not have the benefit of real time conversion tracking.

It is therefore a make-or-break touch point in the customer journey – if poorly integrated, the call center agent is playing catch-up as soon as they pick up the phone, and the online brand promise you’ve worked hard to build, collapses.

However, if properly integrated, the agent can see the caller’s digital footprint, understands at what point they are in the purchasing journey, and is in a much better position to deliver great customer service.
This is omnichannel retailing with the human touch, and it’s possible for all businesses to achieve, as long as you get smart with your online customer data.

Leveraging online data
The most effective way to ensure your contact center fits seamlessly into a customer’s journey is to gather all the online data you know about a user and take it to the phone call. Conversion tracking gives us deep insights into our customers’ needs, so it makes sense not to let the data go to waste as soon as the potential customer moves offline.

Use Google Analytics to track the entire online journey that led up to the call: everything from search queries, keywords, to clicks and impressions, i.e. the user’s “digital footprint”. A piece of software known as “Call Whispers” can then feed your contact center staff information about a caller’s digital footprint.

By intelligently leveraging online data, the agent already has the customer profile, can anticipate their questions and concerns, and is prepared to be the missing gap in the purchasing journey.

Luke Rees is a digital marketing executive from London who writes extensively about technology and trends in the search market industry.
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