The retail sector is one of the most competitive in the entire business world. This niche is so vast and complex, and the competition so fierce, that every single advantage against your competition can make a world of a difference. And because retail deals with the end consumer, communication is one of those few things that can literally make or break a business. This is especially true in the age of social media, where each and every platform has its own particularities, opportunities and challenges. Owning the online communication is becoming more and more a survival trait.
Yes, this article is about optimizing and maximizing the communication game for the retail sector by making use of what is known as a cloud contact center platform or solution. More often than not, when people from the retail industry hear the phrase contact center platform they automatically think about one thing, and one thing only: customer service. However, I believe that the customer service is only one of the benefits, and I dare say not even the most important.
What is a contact center platform?
But before we dive deeper into what are the benefits of using such a tool in retail, let’s quickly define what we mean exactly when we say cloud contact center platform. Well, the easy part is that the name is quite self-explanatory: this is a piece of cloud-hosted software that comes with all the functionalities of a brick-and-mortar contact center, without the need for all the hardware paraphernalia and that can be easily accessed by agents and supervisors from all over the world.
Contact center platforms can be extremely versatile. This is why it is good to know what features to look for if you want to deploy such a platform for your retail business. Here are some key features for retail:
- Omnichannel: the ability to run synchronized operations and campaigns across multiple communication channels, regardless if we are talking about inbound, outbound or blend.
- PCI Compliant: The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard is required for all the companies that deal with distance payment processing. Your agents will be able to process credit card payments in a compliant and safe manner over the phone or other communication channels.
- Scalable: The importance of using a scalable contact center solution that can grow with your business is crucial for those businesses that are dealing with strong seasonal activity. It is important that your contact center software is able to use more resources in times of high traffic and retract those resources to save money when activity is less intense.
- CRM Integration: Being able to pull information straight from the CRM and display it on the agent dashboard as soon as the client initiates a conversation. This feature allows real-time access to key elements such as order history, past interactions, discount eligibility, active warranties, and so on.
Inbound applications for retail
Every single interaction initiated by one of your clients qualifies as an inbound call or message. Of course, this is usually handled by the customer service department. One of the biggest advantages of using a contact center platform is that all these inbound interactions can be centralized into one dashboard that can pull information from your CRM regardless if the client initiated the discussion over the phone, via email or using one of the popular messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram and so on. The agent never leaves the main dashboard and can make updates on each client with dispositions that are being sent in real time to the CRM data base.
Also, advanced contact center solutions like NobelBiz OMNI+ will come with solid built-in IVR automation and a host of other productivity options that can save time and offer a more streamlined customer journey.
Outbound applications for retail
As I’ve mentioned at the beginning of this article, many people fail to see beyond the customer service department when thinking about a contact center platform. However, a solid contact center platform can be a gamechanger for other departments in your retail company, such as the marketing and the sales teams.
On the one hand, the marketing department can devise intricate and highly targeted remarketing, cross-sale, up-sale or special offer campaigns, making use of the detailed customer history paired with the ability to send DMs via the customer’s preferred communication channel.
On the other hand, the sales team can also create unique segmentations and initiate one on one conversations based on the client information and preferences to make direct sales or generate leads. For large client databases, if your contact center platform is equipped with an automatic dialling solution your sales team can save time, effort and money while generating great results.
Final thoughts: The road to good CX
A full-featured contact center platform is not just about being able to offer top-level customer support and a superior communication for departments such as marketing or sales. Actually, this is just the tip of the iceberg. In my opinion, the real value behind deploying such a solution is the possibility to create a personalized Customer Experience, in tune with your brand’s vision.
89% of consumers have switched to doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience. – Harris Interactive
In simple terms, good CX implies 1. that everything is consistent across all the communication channels, from messages, tone of voice, automated responses, personalized offers and so on; and 2. that the entire customer journey from consideration to purchase and beyond (customer service or other post-purchase inquiries) is simple and highly intuitive, with no message conflicts or other glitches.
And yes, the truth is that deploying a contact center platform will make it so much easier to control all the aspects of the Customer Experience. And the benefits of having strong CX in the retail industry go well beyond an improved LTV (customer Life Time Value), increasing the likelihood of more future purchases, customer retention and so on.
Interesting Related Article: “The Dying Art of Customer Service“