Even when businesses reopen fully and shoppers are able to browse the aisles once again, the need for online customer support won’t diminish.
Store and call center staffing levels are likely to remain low relative to the volume of inquiries: brands will rebuild their workforce’s gradually, depending on how soon sales rebound, while wary shoppers may well have more questions than ever about store offerings, hygiene practices, return processes, and the like.
Furthermore, the potential for return to shutdown mode as new virus flareups occur, or as new challenges arise to interfere with “business as usual” means retailers must remain vigilant and agile.
Investment in customer support also makes sense on a broader scale, beyond any single series of events. As retailers increasingly rely on the customer experience and niche expertise to differentiate themselves, versus simply competing on price, stellar customer support embodies those core attributes demonstrating the best qualities of the brand in action.
To help build brand reputations, automated response tools can:
Proactively issue safety reminders.
AI-powered conversational tools can target shoppers heading to stores for order pickup or scheduled events with reminders to wear face coverings, directions to the right store zone, or descriptions of how point-of-sale transactions may have changed since their last visit.
Linking to value-added content describing store safety and sanitation processes can help put shoppers at ease as they embark on the “new normal.”
Support repeat purchasing.
Replenishment reminders can be the most engaging type of marketing message sellers send, email specialist Listrak found, so brands should use one-to-one online support channels to proactively reach out to customers with recommendations for restocking.
Ai-powered conversational tools can also be programmed to support loyalty programs, enabling shoppers to access their points tally and rewards status at any time from any device.
Encourage participation in charitable efforts.
Fully 64% of consumers now choose or avoid brands based their stances on societal issues, Edelman found — so retailers should use customer service interactions to reinforce charitable efforts, whether during the holiday season or in response to natural disasters or other crises. One-to-one messaging tools can prompt shoppers to make donations, steer them toward limited-edition products whose sales proceeds are being contributed to causes, or encourage them to participate in local store-run volunteer initiatives.
Such efforts demonstrate the substance behind claims of sustainability and corporate responsibility, and reassure shoppers that brands align with their values.
Conclusion: Automated support is here to stay
As painful as the global pandemic has been, it’s accelerated trends that were already in play prior to the crisis — chief among them the growing primacy of the customer experience and the need for brands to provide stellar support. By implementing automated one-to-one online messaging tools, retailers can not only weather the current storm, but establish a solid foundation for brand differentiation, sales growth, and lasting loyalty.
If you are interested in learning more about CX Automation and specifically, how you can quickly implement an easy to use conversational AI experience as part of your CX strategy, tailored to your brand, please visit our website to learn more.
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