Social media, chatbots, and other digital channels have been popular for a number of years now. But in the last 12 months, the use of these tools has increased significantly. In fact, when comparing the first three months of 2020 (pre-pandemic) to the months of April through August 2020, Comm100 found that live chat volume increased by an average of 23%. And when comparing the entirety of 2019 with 2020, they found that live chat usage had climbed a steady 7%.
That same trend can be observed with other channels as well. For example, a survey conducted by Sprout Social found that 67% of consumers currently consider responsive customer service (i.e. less than 24 hours) on social media important to their experience with a brand. And 88% of business executives agree that social media will become a primary channel for customer support in the coming years.
The real question is, though: what does this rise in digital engagement mean for retail and eCommerce businesses? Let’s look at a few takeaways.
What Does This Trend Mean for Retailers?
In the first place, this trend highlights the path brands need to take to keep customers happy. Without digital engagement, customers are left with minimal options for getting questions answered and problems resolved, which can lead to poorer customer satisfaction.
In the second place, this trend creates a lot of opportunities for retailers to improve their customer experience. Using omnichannel digital engagement, businesses can reach their audience on their terms, reducing friction in the customer service process. They can decrease the wait time. And in some cases, resolution can be reached faster too.
How Do You Respond to the Increased Demand for Digital Engagement?
There are quite a few ways that eCommerce and retail brands can cater to customers’ desires for digital engagement. Here are 3 to start with.
The most obvious solution is to adopt a variety of different channels to supplement traditional phone and email support. For example, businesses can:
- Respond to customers’ direct messages on social media
- Add a live chat feature to your website and Messenger to your FaceBook business profile
- Layer a chatbot on top of the live chat feature to get simple problems resolved quickly, without tying up your support agents
- Swap out your traditional IVR solution with a visual IVR interface that allows customers to navigate your menu with audio and visual cues
- Create a knowledge center for customers to self-serve their own issues and populate it with tutorials, video, blog posts, infographics, images, and other useful media
- Add an SMS option, so customers can text in questions easily
Integrate Your Channels into an Omnichannel Platform
According to HubSpot research, frontline employees spend 10% of their time trying to reconcile disconnected communication systems. Not only is this an incredible waste of valuable employee time and company money, but it also detracts from your team’s ability to support customers efficiently.
By integrating all of your channels into an omnichannel platform, you can track communication across all of your digital channels from a single space. This enables you to keep the conversation going, rather than having to start over every time a customer is rerouted or returns to your channels with a new problem.
At the same time, your customer care agents can spend significantly less time getting caught up on customer interactions, as all the information they need is integrated.
Create Self-Serve Options
Many of your customers like to be self-sufficient. In fact, Zendesk’s 2020 Customer Experience Report noted that 69% of customers actually prefer to resolve issues on their own, and 63% usually start with self-serve solutions before contacting a customer support agent.
Luckily, there are quite a few simple tools that eCommerce brands and retailers can use to strengthen their self-serve options, including
- Chatbots, which can be used to interact with customers directly and deliver simple answers to questions.
- Visual IVR, as an alternative to standard IVRs that are difficult to navigate and frustrating to customers.
- Knowledge centers, that can provide answers, tutorials, and deeper insight into a process or system that customers are struggling with.
While digital engagement will require many retailers to pivot their current approach to customer support, there are a lot of simple ways to do it. And by capitalizing on the trend early, you’ll be able to create a standout, positive experience for your customers.