Delivering World-Class Customer Experience When Face-to-Face Interaction Is Inconsistent

Karli Quesinberry
Karli Quesinberry

customer experience representative

It is no secret retail has been making the shift towards digital transformation for a while now and those efforts have been further accelerated due to the pandemic. But the question is, how do you ensure an out-of-this-world customer experience when human interaction is inconsistent? Here are a couple of strategies to help you focus on where to get the highest levels of impact:

1. Focus on the key touchpoints where human interaction is the preferred method of communication for customers.

Almost everything can be digitized now—online fitting rooms, reviews, like-item or complementary items, the list goes on. While brands have been forced to adapt (and in some cases totally embrace) to these digital strategies, there is still one area where customers crave human interaction over a bot—and that is customer service support. During times of crisis, contact centers are crucial, according to Accenture. Customers prefer live interaction when they want answers to urgent and complex issues:

customer service preferences statistics

Companies are urgently asking how to handle the impact on their contact centers and keep their customer service workforce happy and safe. Some tactics to consider might include:

  • Invest in incentive and recognition strategies for call center employees. High turnover is common in call center settings. Implementing best practice and beyond employee experience for these people could become even more important if the only in human interaction customers are having is with this audience.
  • Implement trainings to build skills aligned with new customer expectations post-pandemic. Speed is important, but competence is paramount. Having well trained, empowered, customer centric professionals significantly improves the odds that customers arrive at satisfying resolutions, feel that the brand cares about their business, and ultimately extends the life of the customer
  • Reduce customer attrition in really bad situations with a “make it right” offer to thank them for their business (and understanding), encouraging them to give you another shot.

2. Break down the silos between your data.

Most companies have a process in place to collect customer data but often times there are gaps in how that data is leveraged, with less than 25% of these maturing to the point where the brand feels like they are making solid, proactive business decisions with the data.

With the shift to ecommerce as a result from the pandemic, it is important that brands connect the dots between all data collection points to create that personalized touch that is typically felt with an in-person engagement.  

customer service challenges

Trying to manage a business with isolated data is like trying to put together a puzzle without the picture. Data silos stop you from having a 360-degree view of your business. To begin ridding yourself of data silos, some tactics to consider might include:

Use customer reports to identify commonalities in desired behaviors and create an ideal customer profile.

  • Once high-value customers are identified, leverage POS data or transactional data to understand frequency of purchases, product pairings, identifiable behaviors, etc.
  • If a customer profile is created on an app or website, monitor usage to understand which pages your high-value customers are visiting and how they interact with your technology. Consider expanding the data you collect in fun ways that feel natural, not creepy.
  • Once the ideal customer profile is identified, implement targeted strategies to drive and mimic those behaviors and interactions within other segments.

Use survey data/voice of the customer data to identify who your brand ambassadors are and target them with a referral strategy.

  • Some customers may act as an extension of your sales and marketing teams, playing the role of “brand ambassador,” which involves sharing advice and feedback regarding how other customers feel about the product, service or company.
  • On the flip side of this, you can also use information collected from your detractors to identify areas of opportunity that can be adjusted within the employee experience or brand experience.

Use POS data to identify top products and how they differ across districts, regions and company-wide.

  • Create targeted merchandising plans and promotions at the local level to align with varying customer needs.
  • Offer SPIFFs or store-level recognition for product-focused challenges to align with product target goals, but allow autonomy regionally.
  • Issue funding and capture promotion information through your employee experience platform in order to understand what’s working (and what isn’t) in the field, and to ensure that budgets can be tracked and tied to performance.

Take the Relationship Between Customer Service & Customer Experience Seriously

Brands that maximize human interaction will rise to the top in a post-pandemic world. Empowering the frontline workers in store, running your chat service and operating the phones to deliver on your brand’s promise to customers will be tablestakes for brands who have a desire to stay in business.

While historically in the U.S. customer service jobs have been underfunded, underpaid and (unfortunately) thankless, new expectations from customers are demanding that it changes. Businesses who invest in these roles, foster a culture of empowerment and empathy and take the relationship between customer service and customer experience seriously will shine and steal customers from the brands who don’t take it seriously.

Want to learn more about the crossroads of customer experience and employee experience, causes of poor customer experience and how the pandemic has changed brand expectations for customers and employees alike? Then check out this post featuring customer experience expert, Max Kenkel, and employee experience expert, Tanya Fish.

Karli Quesinberry

Karli Quesinberry

Karli oversees the overall program design and strategic recommendations, in support of client business objectives, for new, cross-sell and renewal presale opportunities. In her role at ITA Group, she collaborates across multiple business units, including Sales, Account Management, Analytics, Communications and Client Technology to bring our solutions to life.