Successfully executing an omnichannel retail strategy
March 9, 2017
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Retailers face several challenges when executing omnichannel strategies, particularly as consumer demands continue to rapidly evolve. Here we talk with BoldChat’s Ross Haskell about how companies can improve customer experiences and reach more people in their preferred channels through careful strategy execution.

 

What are some of the biggest challenges you're seeing retailers face in executing omnichannel strategies?

There are two primary challenges as retailers tackle omnichannel engagement. Creating a consistent user experience for shoppers doesn’t happen automatically. It requires a retailer to be constantly diligent about the various journeys customers take, the devices upon which they take them and under what circumstances they select one channel versus another. 

On the other side of the engagement – and this is perhaps the bigger challenge – retailers need to create seamless transparency for their agents so they have a complete view of customer interactions across all channels and devices. Shoppers want to use the most convenient channel for them at the time, but they fully expect the retailer to know about all their prior engagements, no matter where they occurred.

 

How can retailers make better use of mobile applications and websites to improve customer experience?

Offering an array of channel choices used to be the industry benchmark, but now it’s up to retailers to target customers with the appropriate channel when they want it. Mobile presents the perfect opportunity to do this – especially when consumers are browsing or shopping on their mobile devices. You know that for certain situations or transactions some channels are better (or worse) than others. Mobile engagement gives you the opportunity to optimize the experience and pare down choices by only offering channels that you know will solve the customers’ problems. 

 

What role do customer care centers play in an omnichannel strategy? What types of insights are companies seeking?

Remote workers and flexible scheduling are changing what we view as a traditional, centralized “contact center,” but even still, they are at the heart of any omnichannel strategy. The number of channels is increasing and will continue to grow. The ways in which customers engage will evolve, but that will manifest in more ways to initiate and carry on dialogues. Channels don’t replace each other – they fill a unique need. And that will always mean that someone has to be on the other end supporting the customer. But agents need the right tools and technology for seamless omnichannel support in order to deliver superior customer care. 

As far as insights, I think firms that pursue omnichannel have a great opportunity to learn several things:

  • Which channels are best at solving certain problems and which are the worst?
  • Can you group channels and agents together in ways that increase efficiency and satisfaction?
  • Can you use the summative knowledge of all interactions to gain insight into your customers?

 

What changes to customer experience can we expect as retailers refine their omnichannel strategies?

Some channels are beginning to seriously incorporate levels of automation or self-service into their workflows, and this type of intelligence is the most disruptive force to omnichannel today. But automation isn’t anti-engagement. When automation can successfully respond to a query faster than human-to-human interaction, everybody wins. The customer gets a faster answer and the quality of engagements that do require one-on-one support improves. Automation increases efficiency and satisfaction on both sides of the equation.

 

For more information about live chat or omni-channel engagement, visit www.boldchat.com

 

Ross Haskell is the senior director of products for BoldChat by LogMeIn, leading product strategy and liaising with customers and development in order to push customer care teams towards a future of enterprise-class features, mobile dominance and unparalleled efficiency. Before BoldChat, Ross held senior-level marketing, product and consulting positions at technology companies, including Visionael Corp., Green Mountain Energy Co. and Tivoli (an IBM company). He has a special interest – and more than 20 years of experience – in translating consumer data into actionable insights for ecommerce and customer service professionals. Ross earned a BS in marketing at Boston College and an MBA from Texas A&M University.