There is No Segment of the Retail Industry That Remains Untouched by COVID-19. CX Automation is a Necessity for Retailers and Brands to Thrive in the New Normal.
So far this year we’ve seen venerable brands declare bankruptcy. We’ve seen online shopping grow exponentially as customers shelter in place and we’ve seen predictions that the coronavirus might be what finally kills the American shopping mall.
And 2020 is still far from over.
Of course, the effects of the pandemic are not spread equally among retailers. Some are thriving, while others struggle to stay afloat. Analyst firm Forrester divides the industry into those in adaptive or growth mode (grocery, household goods, and healthcare retailers) and those in survival mode (luxury goods and clothing).
The former are facing increased demand, but the challenge of scaling quickly and effectively to meet it, especially if they haven’t prioritized building the infrastructure to support seamless customer service experiences, isn’t insignificant.
For those brands and retailers in the latter category, the need for a truly outstanding customer experience as a point of differentiation between their brand and that of equally customer-hungry competitors can mean the literal difference between continuing to operate or having to close their doors.
What Do Your Customers Care About Right Now?
Among the consumer priorities identified by analyst firm Gartner in a survey on consumer sentiment during the pandemic, survey respondents ranked concerns about price increases, product availability, the safety of frequenting bricks and mortar locations, and the potential for their favorite local stores to go out of business as some of their major worries.
Customers are hungry for information, insight and reassurance from retailers as they navigate a “new normal” of store closures, increased online ordering, protracted shipping times and product shortages alongside the major disruptions to their professional and personal lives and in some cases, their health and that of their families.
Customers are increasing their reliance on ecommerce over bricks and mortar retailers as a convenient and “safer” shopping option., taking a chance on products they wouldn’t previously have bought online or potentially dipping their toe in the ecommerce waters for the first time. This means not every order will be a hit.
Making a return isn’t necessarily fun at the best of times, but it’s especially fraught right now. Receiving an item that took longer than expected to ship, having to repackage it, venturing out to the post office or to a physical store and potentially interacting with numerous people along the way isn’t a chore anyone is clamoring to take on these days.
The need to control the volume of returns and make the return process as seamless as possible is more important than ever. Brands can help themselves with the former by providing intelligent product recommendations based on the shoppers’ previous buying history and providing plenty of opportunities for the buyer to engage with you before they hit the checkout.
Using a CX automation solution to collect and analyze customer data to predict likely returns based on the order itself (were several items ordered in different sizes or colors?) is also vital to plan and predict return volume, especially for retailers that have concerns about maintaining sufficient warehouse staffing at this time.
Returns Should Be as Easy as Possible for the Shopper.
Your Shoppers should be able to initiate the return process from their device of choice without fumbling with paper forms and be able to track the package via web or SMS as it makes it way back and be notified when the return is both received and processed to lessen anxiety.
We’re seeing that customers are willing to take a chance on new categories of online purchases, but they don’t want to take risks.
Download our complete Post Covid-19 CX Automation Guide to learn more about how retailers can thrive in the New Normal.
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.