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UK companies want to offer digital customer service, but struggle with the internal issues, study says

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Retailers are facing increased customer demand for digital self-service options, such as chat and text message, but many are quick to add new channels of communication without first addressing internal barriers.

So says a new study, The Danger of Digital: Why digital self-service without true omnichannel strategies risks the entire customer experience, which finds that in the rush to deploy additional customer communication channels, many organisations skip the much-needed operational planning required for those channels to provide the best possible service to customer.

Commissioned by  Calabrio,  a provider of customer engagement and analytics software, the study surveyed more than 1,000 marketing and customer experience leaders in the US and UK to determine if internal processes enable companies to deliver the experience promised to customers. The report was launched today in Nashville at the company’s US user conference, Calabrio Customer Connect (C3).

It’s clear that companies know the importance of providing a seamless, quality experience across all channels. However, only forty five percent think they are very effective at doing so. A variety of barriers still exist including inconsistent training across channels, a lack of the ability to combine customer interaction data from all channels and budget constraints.

“As organisations deploy a myriad of digital channels to service their customers, the challenge becomes how do they leverage the big data available to deliver insights that are improving the overall customer experience & enhancing brand loyalty,” says Kris McKenzie, Senior Vice President and General Manager for EMEA. “Our research shows that whilst US businesses are ahead of the UK in attempting to achieve this, there is still a huge opportunity for improvement in utilising these insights to inform key business decisions that drive successful customer journeys.”

In order to drive customer loyalty, omnichannel strategies should reflect the journey customers want to take. Forty four percent of organisations say they offer four or more channels to communicate with their brand, but fifty eight percent admit they think their customers only use two or three. This misalignment highlights a lack of true understanding of the customer journey and can be detrimental to customer satisfaction and retention.

The news comes amid a flurry of activity among some retailers to add technology to their customer service offering to make both in-store and online retail more human. For example, Ted Baker has launched ‘Seemore’, a unique virtual assistant through its UK Facebook Community. Seemore is designed to showcase Ted Baker’s AW18 range in a new and engaging way for customers as well as helping them with their most common enquires.

Similarly,Italian ‘Affordable Luxury’ retailer Rinascente is rolling out its On Demand mobile shopping concierge service onto WeChat. On Demand was launched a year ago on WhatsApp to allow Rinascente shoppers to search for and request information about products in the Milan flagship store from anywhere else in the world. Now the company is aiming to extend the service to its growing Chinese customer base on WeChat – which has 1 billion active users per month, 83% of whom shop online.

Meanwhile, Argos has opted to bring this into the home and mobile spheres with the roll of Voice Shopthat makes use of Google Assistant voice technology and the Google Home ecosystem.

The moves are all aimed at making shopping more human online and more ‘online’ in-store as retailers search for new ways to create an experience and deliver new levels of customer service as a differentiator.

Image: Fotolia

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