Providing your customers with an easy, effortless experience can feel like a challenge even in the best of times. But when unexpected events happen (like the kind we’re facing today), that upend your meticulously planned strategy, it can feel like an especially uphill battle.
Social distancing and shuttered stores have led to triple-digit growth in online sales.
With social distancing causing stores to shutter, customers have moved their shopping online, leading to triple-digit growth in online sales—and we expect this trend to continue well past sanctions being lifted as customers remain wary of stepping outdoors to shop.
That means the brands that can act swiftly to make themselves e-commerce ready will come out of this stronger, and (potentially) an expanded set of customers.
Set yourself up to compete online
Moving online means competing not just with stores around the corner, but the hundreds of sites online. To set yourself up for success, you need to be easy to find and stand out from the competition.
Invest in SEO. Customers are moving their window shopping from the streets to Google. Make yourself easy to find on the web by beefing up your site’s SEO, and optimizing your products for online search.
Show off your reviews. Customers are most persuaded by reviews when making purchase decisions—even over your best marketing efforts. So encourage existing customers to leave reviews, and feature them prominently on your site.
Be flexible on pricing. Customers you don’t have a relationship with are more price-sensitive than your regulars. And with the internet literally at their fingertips, it’s easy for customers to open a new tab and search for a similar product to yours, at a lower price point. Look to leveraging algorithms that can help you identify and match your competitors’ price changes as soon as they’re lowered.
Leverage your contact center for sales
Questions that before would have been fielded by in-store representatives are now being channeled to your contact center team instead. Leverage your agents as salespeople, and arm them with the tools they need to sell effectively online.
Training makes perfect. Train your contact center team on the products and services you offer so they can provide accurate advice to customers.
Cheat sheet knowledge base. Your agents may not have had the same hands-on training your in-store representatives would have had on your products and services. To counter that, optimize your knowledge base to include detailed internal notes your agents can read to understand more about your product or service.
Payments on all channels. Make it easy for your customers to buy by providing a safe, secure way to pay on every channel you provide—not just the phone.
Transaction history and order preferences. Your agents don’t have the same visual cues they’d have in store—like what a customer is wearing, or the item they’re holding. But you can help your agents understand your customer better by providing them easy access to a customers’ past history or product preferences, so they can make truly relevant, targeted recommendations.
It’s just one of the strategies our customer, a well-known retail brand, adopted to turn their contact center team into revenue generators.
Pivot your in-store team to support. Take a leaf out of sporting goods retailer, REI’s book, and leverage the knowledge and talent of your in-store team in your contact centers. With their physical stores being closed, they’ve pivoted their in-store team to help with the increased volumes of support they’ve been seeing, allowing them to provide detailed, knowledgeable advice to customers looking to buy online.
Match your customer to the right agent. And while you’re at it, match your customers’ needs to the agent best-suited to help them. For example, if your customer is looking at snowboards when they reach out, your customer support platform should ideally route them straight to your snowboard experts based on the URL they were on. That way, you stack the odds in your favor of closing a sale.
Get creative with delivery
Customers today are impatient, and don’t want to wait days—or even hours—for their purchase. Whether there’s shelter in place orders or not, providing your customers with a fast, easy way to get what they need is a good way to encourage sales (and impulse buys).
Curbside pick-up. While in-store delivery may be out of the question, consider contact-free curbside pickup your next best option. It’s what home goods retailer, Crate and Barrel, is providing across many of their locations, allowing their customers a fast, safe, and convenient way to get what they need. Just be sure to display the option prominently across your site and product pages, so your customers are aware of it.
Delivery partners. In that same vein, you can also think about partnering with instant delivery services like Task Rabbit or Shipt as a safe way of getting your goods to your customers in a safe way.
Lean into self-service
Customers today want to help themselves. But besides giving your customers what they want, self-service is a great way to get your customers’ questions answered, while freeing your agents up to tackle the more complex questions your in-store team may have fielded before.
Put self-service on every page. Up the odds of your customers leveraging self-service by giving customers easy access to it on every page. Not only do you encourage customers to help themselves, but you reduce the probability of losing customers who may have questions, but don’t feel like hunting down your contact details.
But provide an easy ripcord to human help. But no matter how good your self-service may be, when a customers’ question is too complex, it’s good to have human help to turn to. So be sure not to make the exit to human help too onerous to find.
Don’t lose that personal touch
Just because your interactions aren’t taking place face-to-face doesn’t mean you should lose the warm, personal touch you provide in your stores. In fact, with the right tools and customer context, it’s possible to make your contact center experience feel just as warm, if not more, than an in-person one.
What’s in a name? In the (paraphrased) words of Dale Carnegie, a person’s name is, to them, the sweetest and most important sound in any language. Empower agents to refer to your customers by name—without having to ask them for it—with a support platform that can match the number or email address a customer uses with your customer records. It’s a small but powerful surprise to customers, and makes them feel valued rather than anonymous.
Leverage customer details and history. Every conversation with a customer is a chance to learn about who they are—and they shouldn’t be forgotten at the end of each communication. Encourage agents to keep notes about a customer, like their wedding anniversary or favorite brand of lipstick, that their fellow agents can use to personalize their next conversation. You should also consider providing quick access to a customer’s product preferences and past conversation history with you so that in a matter of seconds, your agents can get a better understanding of your customers, and play off of those past conversations.
An efficient, 100% cloud-based platform
Last, but certainly not least, leverage a cloud-based support platform that allows for fast, efficient customer support on whatever channel your customers reach out on, and that gives you the flexibility to work remotely (if you want to) so your support is never interrupted.
All channels built in (especially Voice). Rather than purchasing several channel-specific platforms, or an ‘omnichannel’ solution that still separates communications by channel, look for a solution that not only has all the channels you need built into it, but that allows every communication—regardless of channel—to flow seamlessly.
That way, your agents save precious time not having to ask customers to rehash their past conversations, which makes for a better and faster customer experience. Take it from fabric and crafts retailer, JOANN, who slashed their backlog by 95% with that one small change.
Easy to train on. Finally, ensure that your platform is easy to train new agents to use, so you have maximum flexibility to onboard new agents (or pivot your in-store staff) quickly when your staffing needs change.
How Gladly can help
Moving your experience from in-store to online can be challenging, but we’re here to help make the transition easier, and help you optimize your contact center to deliver the best service to rival any physical store.
100% cloud-based, on every channel. From voice to social, Gladly comes with all the channels you need built natively into it. That means no more siloes, and a seamless experience across every channel.
Onboard in hours. Deploy (remotely) in weeks. Gladly’s modern, easy-to-use UI means agents are ready to help customer with just a few hours of training. Plus, our team is on hand to help implement Gladly in weeks—and do it remotely if need be.
Customer details and history at-a-glance. With Gladly, a customer’s conversation history and key details (like order history and product preferences) are on the same screen agents use to talk to them. That means agents don’t waste time clicking into tickets and OMSs, but can deliver fast, efficient, and Radically Personal service.
Self-service everywhere. Encourage customers to find answers themselves by allowing customers to self-serve everywhere—not just your FAQ page.
Intelligent knowledge base. Gladly’s AI-powered knowledge base suggests the best answer to use based on your customers’ questions, saving your agents time, and helping your team deliver a fast and consistent experience.
E-commerce isn’t anything new for companies, but recent events have galvanized the need to truly optimize for it. As people adapt to the ‘new normal’, and customers who may traditionally have favored in-store shopping turn more to the online store, we believe it’s become more important than ever for companies to finetune their e-commerce strategies in order to compete in the long run.