BUILDING A connection with a customer is not done over a single transaction but a continuous conversation around acquisition, retention and loyalty. Every part of the retail organisation needs to do its part to deliver the service, experience and emotion that is promised by the brand story.
At times such as Christmas, when customers invest more emotion into their shopping, contact centres see an increase in communication from shoppers who are stressed and wanting immediate resolution of issues – or just clarification that their online order will be delivered. A staggering 32% of people who shopped online for Christmas presents in 2016 experienced an issue with an online purchase, according to a study by JDA and Centiro. While this is lower than the 33% who encountered problems in 2015, it still puts pressure on contact centres that need to resolve the issues. The study discovered also that of those shoppers that encountered an issue, 31% experienced late deliveries, 23% didn’t actually receive the items that they had ordered and, for 22%, their purchase was damaged.
Customers can be lost or retained over issues such as these and the personal touch is needed from customer services to ensure that the issue is resolved in a manner that leaves the shopper happy. Handled in the right way, the shopper can leave the call more loyal to the retailer, or conversely shouting out about bad service to any friend, family member or acquaintance on social media.
As, Richard Pugh, Head of Logistics, Marks & Spencer, told delegates at the recent Delivery Conference, the retailer’s emphasis is on getting delivery right first time. “If it matters to our customers, it matters to us,” he said. “The ultimate aim is to be able to fix a problem before the customer is aware of it.” However, if it does need the customer to be contacted, or for the customer to call the contact centre then a resolution handled in a professional way can drive a positive image of the brand. “If something goes wrong, a good resolution can drive loyalty,” he said.
Online grocer Ocado [IRDX ROCA] knows this only too well and is using machine learning to analyse all of the emails which come into its customer service department. The content of each email is ‘read’ and messages prioritised so that those requiring urgent attention are put to the top of the pile. This not only ensures that matters needing swift resolution are handled quickly but frees up contact centre agents’ time to deal with other matters which may require more of a personal touch.
Machine learning and how it is helping in the optimisation of warehouse facilities at Ocado’s Customer Fulfilment Centres was one area discussed when InternetRetailing’s Editor-in-Chief Ian Jindal and I met with General Managers of Ocado Technology. Matt Soane and James Donkin, who appear on the cover of this issue of InternetRetailing magazine, spoke about how Ocado is a company of 2 halves – an online grocery retailer and a technology company.
Elsewhere in this issue, we look at how digital is leading to deeper conversations with customers, greater engagement and personalised experiences and what that means for content, IT and retail teams.
I investigate what loyalty means for omnichannel shoppers in 2017, while IR’s Mobile Editor, Paul Skeldon, investigates how the iPhone has (and hasn’t) changed the retail world. In a year in which the iPhone turns 10, the biggest draw at the Mobile World Congress was a re-launched Nokia 3310, but back in 2007 when the iPhone was launched, the best you could hope for was a Nokia N91, complete with a spinning 4GB hard drive that might, if you were lucky and in central London, connect to the web. Roll on to 2017 and £27bn will be spent on mobile devices this year with two thirds of all online purchases made on a mobile by 2020. As the National Lottery says, “you’ve got to be in it to win it”, so are you connecting with customers and winning on mobile?
Fashion retailer and marketplace Zalando [IRDX RZAL], certainly is, and Nuzhat Naweed, VP Customer Experience at Zalando, shares her thoughts on where mobile will take the fashion industry.
Customer Obsession will also be a topic at just one of the 8 conference streams at the InternetRetailing Expo. Speakers from retailers including Game [IRDX RGME], Office Depot [IRDX ROFD], Graze [IRDX RGRZ] and Next [IRDX RNXT] will look at topics around how digital marketing is becoming increasingly complex but offers greater opportunity to reach customers. They’ll tackle subjects such as ‘How can you use digital to shape a customer-centric culture, deliver more compelling customer experiences and use data, journey mapping and personalisation to create campaigns to drive behavioural change?’
InternetRetailing Expo takes place over two days at Birmingham’s NEC and brings together 5,000 visitors, 300 exhibitors, 90 speakers, 100 hours of content and, of course, the InternetRetailing team. We look forward to seeing you there.