Customer happiness: it’s something every retailer strives to cultivate. Traditionally done through birthday messages with coupons, free gifts with purchase or quick-fire sales, increasing CSAT is at the core of every retailer’s strategy. While all of these efforts are still very much loved by customers, CSAT is increasingly driven by customer service.
Your customers today have heightened expectations for customer support. More than ever, customer support directly impacts loyalty and dictates where people spend their money. Consider this: 59% of consumers have higher expectations for customer service than they did just a 1 year ago and 61% have switched brands due to poor customer service. Customer service is now a way to differentiate.
Retailers must think about meeting customer demands for personal, immediate and convenient customer service to increase CSAT. To build brand love through customer support, focus on these core areas:
- Decrease First Response Time: Get back to your customers right away: Respond as soon as possible, even if you are simply acknowledging a person’s issue while you work behind the scenes to resolve it. How quickly you get back to someone impacts whether a person believes your company cares and that their issue is important to you. Leverage AI as the first line of defense to respond in less than one second – whether its offering a full resolution to a question (i.e. Your order will arrive by 8pm), gathering additional information from the customer (i.e. What’s the reason for your return?) or letting them know when someone will be in touch (i.e. Our design expert will get back to you at 8am). Feeling heard and knowing that your issue has been acknowledged goes a long way.
- Reduce Average Handle Rate: Streamlining the entire process of resolving an issue centers on reducing the amount of effort your customers have to put in. The burden needs to be with the company, not the customer. Tailor the interaction to the channel to create a sense of effortless-ness. For instance, if you’re providing support via chat, be as brief as possible and ensure the interaction has been adapted to a messaging interface (i.e. less formal, shorter messages). Even if there are more messages exchanged, don’t make your customers read long-form text in a small window. On email, however, streamlining the resolution is about limiting the number of messages exchanged. If something is not resolved immediately, strive to ask for all the information needed in one shot.
- Be available cross-channels: Today’s consumer’s demand you respond to them wherever they hangout, and the number of channels is increasing rapidly. If you only support one/two channels you are behind. Your customer support organization needs to scale across email, chat, messaging and voice platforms. Read more about the importance of cross-channel support here.
- Provide fast, free shipping: Offering free shipping is not just a way to improve CSAT, but a great business decision: 61% of people are “somewhat likely” to cancel an order if free shipping is not offered and orders with free shipping average around 30% higher in value. In the age of Amazon Prime and larger companies rushing to maintain market share, free shipping has become a near universal expectation. In addition to offering complimentary shipping, enable your customers to get real-time updates on their orders whenever – and wherever – they want.
- Ensure virtual agents understand what your customers are saying: As brands start to turn to virtual agents to scale customer service practices, it’s critical that AI enables people to engage in natural conversation. People don’t want to be confined to keywords, they want to ask a question and describe a situation in free text. However, if an AI agent gets confused easily, customer frustration skyrockets. Leverage Natural Language Understanding (NLU) to decrease the likelihood your customers get a message like: “I don’t understand. Please ask in another way.” or “Please select your issue from the list below.” With an advanced NLU, your AI will be able to understand a greater variety of slang, short-form and other utterances to accurately classify your customers intent and therefore, reduce frustration. For example, someone can ask “where’s my order” in hundreds of ways – Is my package here? Where is my shirt? Is UPS coming to my house today? Virtual agents need to be able to understand the intent behind all of these is the same, just like a human would.
- Offer seamless returns: The number of returns is surging along with the boom in ecommerce purchases. Ensure you offer a frictionless, transparent returns process and personalize the experience as much as possible. In a simple example, if a new customer is reporting that a product showed up missing pieces, acknowledge that you hate that this is their first experience with your brand, that this sort of does not happen regularly and provide a coupon for a future purchase.
- Get out in front of issues: As soon as you know about a potential issue (i.e. a package is going to be delayed), let your customers know. By telling them about an issue before they even realize it exists will make them feel like you have their back. Identify various ways to offer proactive care along the entire customer journey, for instance anticipating when a product needs maintenance or a replacement part to ensure it works well. This all feeds into a feeling that the brand has their best interests in heart, and thus, increases their affinity for a brand.
- Always offer a human “out”: If you are leveraging AI to assist customers, make sure they can always be escalated to a human agent. Some customers will always prefer interacting with a human, and some situations will always be better suited for a human. Let your customers know how they get transferred to a human agent whether that’s a menu option in a chat, a button in an email signature or through a keyword.
- Check in: Ask your customers how you’re doing solving their issues and what can be improved. Follow up with customers to gather honest feedback, and take their feedback to heart.
CSAT is tied more to customer service than ever before. In order to build brand love in an increasingly competitive retail ecosystem, retailers must meet consumer demands for personal, immediate and convenient support – on an increasing number of channels. Bringing AI into the workforce enables companies to significantly boost CSAT significantly – in one example, our customer saw an increase in over 24% in a few short months.
Are you a retailer looking to scale customer satisfaction? Get in touch today.