By Samir Gulati, ServicePower
The singular focus of the retail industry is customer service. When it comes to serving your market, staying competitive and guaranteeing a positive and lasting impact on customers is key. Retailers must ensure a seamless customer experience from initial contact and continue to provide after-sales support. The importance of visibility into the customer journey and the connection with the manufacturers is vital for retailers aiming to create a brand that promotes trust, customer loyalty and beneficial relationships with employees and industry partners.
Foreword-thinking organizations understand that nurturing the customer experience goes beyond the initial sales engagement. Retailers with end-to-end visibility engrained in their workflows can deliver on increasingly high customer expectations while reducing costs through intelligent workforce management solutions.
Customer is king
The customer experience has its own lifecycle that, if not curated properly, could break down at any time. Because 60% of all customer service engagements will be delivered via digital or web self-service channels by 2023, an intuitive, high-functioning customer service portal is imperative to successful customer interactions. Self-service portals are among the most valued service options and field service management software (FSM) can put retail organizations in a position to control the customer journey and provide the best service. A dynamic consumer portal can act as a solution for strengthening the customer relationship by creating demand, improving retention, and enhancing brand loyalty.
Traditionally, customers with an issue will contact the retailer either in person, over the phone or online. The customer’s service journey is then handled internally by the retailer or contracted out to field service technicians or the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). However, by 2022 85% of customer service interactions will start with self-service. Customer portals are convenient, allowing customers to engage with retailers from any location on any digital device at any time. Customers can use the portal to the check the timeline of their requests, review warranty information, and get real-time status updates. The integration of an accessible customer portal allows a retailer to still be the guide to a customer’s journey and instill a positive brand awareness to customers they navigate their own service.
Sell more than service
As customers are taking more control of their own service requests through customer portals, retailers can use the opportunity to engage them in a whole new way. Upselling and cross-selling are critical strategies for retailers to build long-term financial viability, which allows them to keep prices low to maintain a competitive advantage. Once a consumer is within the organization’s portal, the opportunity to engage them goes beyond service and can be translated into sales opportunities. Customer service portals provide the ability to drive brand awareness through customized ads for each consumer based on their specific products. Brand retention lies in the ability to offer year-end clearance and year-round deals and to proactively promote product enhancements, add-ons, extended warranties and new technology through ads right on the portal where they’re visible to your customer as they processes their initial request.
By implementing a customer portal that can efficiently process service requests and provide extended engagement and sales opportunities, retailers can deliver on customer expectations while increasing personal sales and revenue and driving improved customer satisfaction and loyalty. Loyal customers are five times more likely to do business with a company again, resulting in a 40% increase in revenue due to inflated customer engagement. Expanding customer portals to become a secondary selling platform helps grow the business and provide assistance to customers, allowing retailers to invest in new business initiatives while keeping customers happy.
As businesses grow larger with online selling platforms and customer portals, retailers must be ready to keep up with customer demand. Effective workforce management will allow retailers to offer high performing at-home service, maintaining its efficiency through FSM software. These digital tools offer actionable data analytics to track business performance, implement continuous improvement initiatives, and promote better decision-making. Organizations can improve service operations, enhance forecasting and planning, and improve third-party collaboration to better optimize the end-to-end customer experience.
Open communication between field service technicians, OEMs, retailers and customers are necessary to cement an effective and transparent delivery of service and expectations. Digital dashboards allow these conversations to take place instantaneously, tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) and allowing businesses to quickly adjust strategies in real time. Retail giants like John Lewis, Best Buy and Lowes rely on FSM software to seamlessly integrate workflows between manufacturers and service partners. The analytical functionality of digital workforce tools can project the business to a higher level of both sales and service. Retailers can conduct enhanced forecasting and future planning by examining trend analyses and mapping demand to capacity projections. This proficiency can allow them to better account for peak revenue potential and identify areas to cut costs, allowing them to save on operating margins, schedule and service costs thanks to FSM software’s schedule optimization capabilities.
Increase visibility and improve perception
FSM software allows retailers to utilize uniquely comprehensive customer portals to leverage their competitive advantage. Delivering on customers’ high expectations of reliability and ease of digital service increases retention and brand loyalty, which will result in an overall higher Net Promoter score for the brand and drive both sales and growth. Not only do digital tools aid the customer’s service journey, but they open visibility of business workflows and workforce management practices between retailers, OEMs and third-party contractors to ensure efficient and excellent production and service.
About the author
Samir Gulati was appointed Chief Marketing and Product Officer at ServicePower in 2017, where he is responsible for all aspects of Marketing and Product Management, including market strategy, product roadmaps, demand generation, product marketing, and corporate marketing. Samir brings over 25 years of experience in global product and marketing leadership roles in technology companies.