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Simplifying the retail customer experience: Creating customers for life by building relationships

by Mark Ungerman Every customer touchpoint is an opportunity to deliver on your brand value, whether in-store, on a customer service line or via chat or bot functions. As a retail customer experience (CX) leader, you know that a strategy to manage customer interactions must account for the diverse needs, behaviors, and preferences of the customers you serve.

This can span multiple demographics. For example, consumers with a traditional communication style may instinctively visit one of your brick-and-mortar locations or use a phone to call the toll-free number. A digital native, on the other hand, may look for answers within your app or use a search engine or pose a question on social media. There are many other customer preferences all along the spectrum.

Meeting the diverse interaction needs of your customer base may have led to adding new software and technology to support new interaction channels as those preferences emerged.

However, as a result, you face a new challenge: You now manage many different vendors, platforms, and data sources. This not only complicates maintenance, management, and reporting, but also fragments the experience of consumers who may use multiple channels to interact with you. How consistent is the experience from one channel to the next? How easy is it for your employees to work within multiple channel platforms? How well are you able to understand the retail customer experience across those different platforms?

Creating a consistent brand experience across the customer journey is a critical foundational step toward keeping customers and improving their experience. This is easily achieved by unifying interaction channels.

The following five examples illustrate how some retail firms have improved fragmented CX by using a unified platform for all channels and interactions, opening up new opportunities to streamline vendor management, increase operational efficiency, reduce costs, and, ultimately, deliver greater customer satisfaction.

One platform for all channels DSW, a shoe retailer with more than 550 stores throughout the US and Canada, struggled with disconnected customer communication channels. Tim Harpe, director of global customer operations said, “We were using multiple tools for voice, email and chat, which made it difficult to get reports for each channel, plus it was challenging to know when agents needed to be shifted to handle fluctuating volumes.” Bringing all of DSW’s channels together on one omnichannel platform resulted in greater visibility and efficiency. “We know which channel needs additional support so we can quickly make adjustments such as skilling or reskilling agents. That’s a huge benefit,” said Harpe.

Delivering true omnichannel experiences Floral wire service Teleflora serves two unique customer groups: consumers and florists. Each group has totally different needs, according to Jeff Griffith, director of Telco and IT services for Teleflora. Teleflora had previously used different systems for phone and email and did not have chat capability. To satisfy customers’ desires to use their channels of choice, it was critical to offer a true omnichannel experience. “With CXone we can handle multiple channels,” Griffith says, “and we can easily increase channel capacity, too. We didn’t have to buy additional licenses for email, so it was very cost-effective. We also offer chat in the same channel.”

Teleflora uses NICE CXone to deliver a better retail customer experience and make its operations more efficient. “We no longer juggle the requirements of five different contact center systems,” Griffith says, “We also now have one consistent method of reporting … so we’re getting data we trust.”

Improving employee performance with visibility to data Florida-based City Furniture needed visibility into how they were servicing customers. It was critical to have reliable, up-to-date data so leadership could feel confident using it to make business decisions.

“We’re very focused on one-call resolution,” explained Megan Davis, contact center manager at City Furniture. “We want to know if the agents are courteous and professional and if they’re following our script — there are a lot of criteria on which they’re scored.”

With increased visibility into important metrics, City Furniture noted increases in both performance and engagement. Using NICE’s performance management solution, agents review their own dashboards, and report it’s much easier to quickly see how the entire team is performing at a glance.

Overcoming siloed operations Apparel company Lands’ End wanted to give its contact center agents more flexibility and involvement with scheduling while modernizing contact center operations in the cloud. The company also saw the move to a single contact center platform as an opportunity to harmonize operating policies and practices across different lines of business. The company’s business-to-business, consumer-facing, and international operations divisions each had different practices, creating siloed operations, limited visibility, and duplicated efforts across different lines of business.

At the time, 80% of the company’s contact center employees were at-home agents, and that population tended to put an even higher premium on flexibility, self-service, and responsiveness, so Lands’ End wanted to provide a world-class work experience. “We continue down the path of more home agents, not less, so the more flexibility we can offer agents, the better,” said Arthur Rebischke, manager of operational analytics and workforce management for Lands’ End. With a carefully planned contact center overhaul co-managed with NICE, agents quickly embraced the ability to coordinate their own absence request and schedule trades via the Employee Engagement Manager mobile application, reducing agent calls to the workforce management help desk by 80%

Managing the end-to-end customer experience When Vera Bradley, an American luggage and handbag design company, wanted to revamp its contact center operations, its leadership focused on both providing the highest level of customer service and ensuring the best possible work environment. The IT team wanted to reduce the amount of time spent on maintenance and reporting while also moving to a platform with improved PCI compliance to make order processing more secure.

Because the contact center supports end consumers, independent retailers, and Vera Bradley stores, agents can be called upon to address a wide range of situations. Everything from routine consumer orders to extreme weather closures of a Vera Bradley retail store is a possibility. The agent assist feature of NICE makes it easy to add another experienced representative to a call. This is particularly useful for agents working at home who can’t easily hail a colleague at a nearby desk.

Behind the scenes, an employee engagement program built around gamification rewards employees with digital rewards, virtual coins redeemable for products and gift cards, as well as workplace incentives like additional breaks. Performance dashboards help leadership and individual agents alike understand output on a granular basis. The company increased employee engagement by 15% and reduced agent attrition by 10%.

After the overhaul, customers quickly noticed the difference and signaled their approval. Several key survey metrics rose year-over-year, including a Net Promoter Score increase of 2.7% and Customer Satisfaction by 1.15%.

Customer relationships and loyalty are built through every interaction a customer has with your brand. If your employees are unhappy, your systems are disparate, and the data points are siloed, then your insights are limited, and your customer’s shopping and service experiences are equally fragmented.

Find out why retail and ecommerce companies around the world trust CXone to unify customer interaction channels for more connected, intelligent, and complete customer experiences.

About the Author Mark Ungerman Mark has worked in technical product management and marketing for 20+ years. In his current role as Director, Marketing CX for NICE, he is responsible for conducting primary research to understand how business leaders use customer experience solutions to increase profitability through improving productivity and customer lifetime value. Prior to NICE, Mark held influential roles helping technology companies build and bring products to market.

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