When it comes to retail, customer experience is king. It’s easier than ever for customers to do research and order what they want from any number of online retailers, so it’s important to recognize what you can do in the retail space to stand out. At the end of the day, that comes down to customer experience, and a retail call center can plan an essential role.
Your competitive advantage in providing a superior customer experience doesn’t end when your customer leaves your store. In retail, phone service is a major part of what you can offer to help your brand and differentiate itself from online competitors. That means you need to think about how you can set up the best possible call center for your retail customers.
Why a Call Center Is So Important for Retail
When it comes to retail, it’s easy to underestimate just how influential the internet has been in terms of poaching customers. While the numbers are close, in the past year, the total number of “non-store” or online US retail sales were higher than “general merchandise” sales for the first time in history. In other words, competing with online marketplaces is a major concern for any retailer, and that means you need to focus on how you can differentiate yourself in new ways.
One of the hallmarks of any online retailer is just how hard they are to reach by phone. When you’re looking to compete against businesses that are based online, think about what advantages you offer over and above the standard online customer experience. A big differentiator can come with the level of customer service that you’re willing to offer.
The in-person experience can make a big difference for today’s shoppers. Remember that consumers buy things from a brick-and-mortar retailer because customer service is built into the experience. They want to be able to call someone to resolve their issue, rather than going through a back-and-forth.
1. Create a Call Center That Performs
The most important thing when it comes to call centers is making sure you can keep up with your call volume. That means being able to route and manage calls coming into the system efficiently, and for that, you’ll need Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP).
Using VoIP, you can take advantage of call forwarding to make sure that your customers can always reach you no matter what’s going on in the outside world. You can do everything from recording every call to escalating to an issue to a supervisor, depending on the situation. With unified communications (UC) capability, you can put everything in one place, ensuring you can respond to your customers no matter how they contact you.
2. Establish Key Call Center Metrics
If you’re a retailer looking to set up a call center, there are several key metrics you can use to ensure you’re doing a good job serving customers. The be-all and end-all metric here is first contact resolution (FCR), which is a measure of how many customers’ problems are solved the first time they reach out to your business.
Keeping a low FCR is critical to making sure that your call center is doing its job—nobody wants customers to have to keep calling and calling. For one thing, it increases call volume and creates more cases for your customer service department to track. What’s more, it means that you’re eating up an increasingly large amount of your customers’ time.
Think about what percentage of customers with a particular problem actually take the next step and call you. Do you really want someone who’s gone the extra mile to jump through even more hoops before they can get their issue resolved?
In light of this, many companies also take a close look at their Customer Effort Score (CES). This number attempts to measure how difficult it was for a customer to get their issue resolved, which can, in turn, tell you how likely they are to stay with you or make another purchase.
3. Take Advantage of VoIP
One of the biggest benefits of a VoIP call center is the ability to route calls wherever they need to go, no matter where your team is located. VoIP allows you to take advantage of distributed teams to make sure that no matter what time a customer calls, you always have someone available to answer.
As more and more people work in a distributed environment, it’s important for businesses to keep pace. These teams offer increased flexibility in terms of who you can hire and where they work, while also allowing you to arrange your workforce to staff your phone lines for as many (or as few) hours as you desire. Your employees and you both gain much-needed flexibility that helps you show up for customers when they need you.
What You Can Do Right Now
As online purchases continue to grow, retailers are digging deeper into what differentiates them and how they can deliver more value to in-person customers. One of the most important differentiators comes in the form of customer service, and this extends to how you set up your call center to field questions or concerns from your customers. Taking advantage of VoIP and paying attention to key metrics can help you ensure your call center makes the grade.
- Call centers are a major differentiator in customer experience.
- VoIP helps you respond to customers no matter what.
- Use metrics like FCR and CES to make sure you’re effective.
- Take advantage of remote workers to expand your hours and increase flexibility.
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