Operating in the New Normal: 4 Ways Retailers can Handle Increased Demand for Remote Service
Key strategies for retailers to handle increased demand for remote service in the “new normal”
While brick and mortar stores have been closed, retailers have been keeping busy. Inquiries about products that would traditionally have been addressed in-store or through the website have been redirected to customer service teams that struggle to handle the increased volume of calls and broader knowledge requirements needed by customers. Though many retail stores are opening up again, many customers may continue to rely heavily on remote interactions with retailers.
First things first: being busy is a good thing! Keeping customers engaged will make them more likely to visit retail stores when they reopen, while enabling customers to continue engaging remotely will allow them to engage in-person when they’re comfortable returning to normal routines.
“Many customers may continue to rely heavily on remote interactions with retailers.”
The question then, is how to handle this concentrated workload that’s fallen on customer service teams. For retailers that don’t typically experience a high inbound call volume, now is the time to look into a call centre. Retailers that have already invested in call centres should direct additional resources to increase their capacity. Prioritizing four key objectives will help customer service teams retain and delight customers even after a return to business-as-usual.
1) Meet customers where they want to be met
The brick and mortar location is one of the most important channels where retailers engage with their customers. If it’s shut down or if customers aren’t ready to return to normal activities, it’s even more important for customers to have the option to engage on a channel of their choosing. Retailers should take stock of the communication channels they support, and ensure — if they have a call centre — it’s configured and has all the information ready to take a customer through a full service case journey, leading to a happy customer.
(Tip: Through Salesforce Care, retailers that don’t currently have a call center can access free or discounted licensing.)
This is where Salesforce can truly thrive, enabling customers to submit cases and service requests through a wide range of channels: text, social media, email, chat (and bots), phone, web portal and mobile video chat. No matter what channel the customer chooses, they will enjoy the same experience, all while the service agent leverages a single console.
Salesforce has also recently released an offering to support a virtual shopping experience where customers can engage with a sales or service representative from the comfort of their living room.
2) Help agents access information faster
Customer service is all about knowledge: knowing the customer as well as the options available to address their needs. A common challenge service departments face is that they have the information they need, it’s just difficult to access. Moving from one system to another, searching for information takes up a lot of time.
Having a consolidated customer view translates into less frustrating investigation for agents. With Service Cloud, agents gain access to customer data through the Service Console and can consult a robust knowledge base all within the same platform. That leads to faster case resolution for happy customers and more productive service agents.
3) Deflect cases through self-service customer resources
One way retailers can both provide additional choice for customers and reduce case volume is to set up self-service resources for customers to consult. Typically, this includes a customer-facing repository of knowledge articles that address common queries and allow customers to avoid waiting in call queues if possible.
Once retailers have enabled all other channels, they can leverage Salesforce Communities to provide an additional choice. A public facing Customer Community would provide customers with access to knowledge articles. Through additional features like predictive search (auto-populate related articles when using the search bar) and chat (help guide the customer to the right resources), retailers enable customers to self-serve their issues which deflects inbound cases.
4) Invest in outbound technology
This last strategy is about transforming customer service experience into an asset that can facilitate growth. Bringing customer service and marketing together, or merging inbound and outbound activities, will leave the customer with a greater sense of cohesion. They’ll feel that the retailer knows and remembers them, no matter who they’re talking to. Linking call centre data to the rest of the business allows sales and marketing to gain a 360 degree customer view.
In some locations, retail customers are once more shopping at physical stores, but that doesn’t mean investing in remote service is a short-term solution. In-person interactions at brick-and-mortar locations are just one of the many ways customers want to connect to retailers. Maintaining a unified and branded experience across all channels will enable retailers to get back to growing the customer base they’ve retained through this crisis. Meet the rising expectations of customers in the new decade.
If your retail organization is interested in implementing Service Cloud through Salesforce Care, read about our Salesforce Care Extensions on our COVID Response page. Or, if you have a unique use case, reach out to us below.
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