At this point it goes without saying, but the world shifted online rapidly in 2020. According to our recent research of over 500 US consumers, 71% reported shopping online more frequently during the past year. But what is more insightful, is how many of those respondents will continue to shop online more frequently once the world goes back to business-as-usual. Of those who report an increase in online shopping, a whopping 85% plan to continue shopping online more often in the future.
Along with this shift comes a shift in consumer attitudes. Customers no longer see relationships with retailers as transactional — they see brands as an extension of their identity. That’s why delivering an exceptional customer experience, and building relationships with consumers, is imperative for business success.
The Online Retail Opportunity
The past year’s rapid shift to digital opens up a massive opportunity for online businesses, but they must be prepared to deliver an exceptional online experience to match their in-store one. And unfortunately, right now, they are not delivering. Eighty-two percent of consumers have had a bad customer service experience with at least two retailers in the past year, and 93% of consumers think contacting retail customer service should be more convenient. This is up from 78% in 2019, meaning that consumers think customer service has been moving in the wrong direction.
The Need for Speed
The pandemic caused an uptick in inquiries for many businesses, even if their sales were down. Consumers had more questions while they could not shop in-store, and many retailers were running into hiccups when it came to shipping and fulfillment. Because of this, 42% of consumers think their time is not valued by retailers, with that number growing to 52% for consumers 65+. These individuals may not have shopped online previously, and needed more assistance than younger consumers, leading to their frustration with inevitable wait times.
On average, most consumers get annoyed after waiting just four minutes for a response from customer service, and 64% of consumers would never shop with a retailer again if they abandoned a customer service conversation before being helped. It is imperative, then, for customer service organizations to improve efficiency without impacting effectiveness.
Support teams are bogged down with manual, routine tasks that consume agents’ time and effort, and result in long response and resolution times that frustrate customers. Currently 50% of customer service agents’ time is spent searching for information and performing repetitive, manual tasks. This is no longer sustainable. Retailers should tap into the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to eliminate the menial, repetitive, and time consuming tasks with intelligent automations that can detect intent, collect relevant information, automate agent interactions, and route conversations based on customer data or request type. Intelligent chatbots are now able to deliver contextual and personalized information that feels human, and can seamlessly hand off to agents when necessary. With the right technology agents can focus on building relationships with customers and fixing complex issues in a timely manner.
Want to learn more about how to deliver on modern day retail customer service expectations? Download the full report here.