Article

Becoming a future-ready business

While technology will never be able to replace a friendly embrace, what the last year has provided is a showcase for how important it is for businesses to be digital-first. CRM has never been as important to reach your customers and connect remotely with your all-important teams.

By Michael Schweidler, EMEA Marketing Manager

Published May 25, 2021
Last updated June 22, 2021

During testing times, nothing is more important than human connection. That is exactly why this particular testing time in history – a global pandemic – was so difficult to comprehend. Overnight, planes were grounded and hugs were banned, but modern technology was able to step in and help us all stay connected, from the ability to work safely from home and video call our loved ones, to buying everything we needed online.

While technology will never be able to replace a friendly embrace, what the last year has provided is a showcase for how important it is for businesses to be digital-first. CRM has never been as important to reach your customers and connect remotely with your all-important teams. And making the digital purchasing journey easy for customers, assisting your support team and keeping all facets of your business in sync are the three key ways to deliver great customer experience in this recalibrated future.

Let’s deep dive into those three all-important areas:

1. Make it easy for your customers

With such a wide choice online today, customers have the upper hand when it comes to eCommerce. And if you don’t make the online experience slick and easy, they will simply visit your competitor’s website instead. According to our Customer Experience Trends 2021 research, 80% of customers would go to a competitor after more than one bad customer service experience. From the way you greet them on your homepage, through to easy and free delivery and returns, you must provide the best online experience to convert today’s fickle customers.

When a shopper has a question, they want to be able contact you and get that answer in a timely and efficient manner. Nearly two-thirds of customers in Europe (including the UK) are keen to use self-service methods to get those answers in a manner that is convenient to them.

Retailer New Look hit the nail on the head when Alice Denyer, customer services delivery manager, said: “Customers don’t expect to ever have to contact someone when making a purchase, so when a customer does need to contact us we need to make that process really, really easy.” New Look uses a 24/7 AI-powered bot on its website, which can recommend help centre articles to empower customers to self-serve and free up agents to take care of more complicated queries.

But while AI saw adoption rates jump 50% in 2020, usage rates remain low overall, meaning there is an opportunity to implement this technology to help you stand out from your competitors. That’s why high-performing businesses were 35% more likely to add self-service resources and three times more likely to use an answer bot, according to our research.

For more complex queries a 1:1 chat may be necessary. It’s time to think about how your customers communicate in their day-to-day lives and meet them where they are. And that is mostly on messaging channels, like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Messaging support provides a fast, personal, convenient and secure service, while providing flexibility for both customers and the retailer.

According to our research, retailers with the best CX track records are 1.4 times more likely to be messaging their customers. Retailers saw a 24% increase in support requests come in over WhatsApp in the last year, and 37% who added a new channel turned to social messaging – you need to meet your customers where they are, and that is on social platforms, while also being mindful of those customers who would still prefer to pick up the phone and speak to a human being.

2. Support your support team

We’re constantly talking about the importance of excellent CX leading to business growth, but what about EX (employee experience)? Your customer support agents are the face of your brand. Keep them happy and they will pass this sunny disposition onto the conversations they are having with your customers.

One simple way to keep your team happy is to empower them to do their jobs more efficiently by equipping them with right digital tools. Bloom & Wild’s customer delight lead, Isobel Mills, says it’s the flower delivery firm’s aim to be “detail orientated”, and she and her team can only do that by using a system that can scale as quickly as the start-up business is growing itself. With Zendesk’s built-in routing and intelligence software all requests are visible and prioritised, empowering the support teams at retailers like Bloom & Wild to put their customers first.

Sadly, according to our CX report, only 59% of agents at mid-sized companies and 56% at enterprise companies believe they have the tools to succeed in this new world. And with agents still working from home and across multiple channels to meet customers where they are, this is leading to around 70% of agents feeling overwhelmed. Businesses need to bring this information into one workflow to promote efficiency and collaboration.

But things are improving, with the restrictive nature of the pandemic pushing European/ UK companies towards using collaboration features, with high-performing companies 93% more likely to use collaboration tools today than in 2019.

3. Keep your business in sync

Today’s businesses need to be on as many customer-facing channels as possible (eCommerce, social media, in-store, D2C, marketplaces), but there’s also a need to be more agile than ever. Being reactive is difficult if your various data systems aren’t connected and communicating with each other. This is even more business-critical when you remember that your customers will slip in and out of various channels while engaging with your brand – customers today may discover you on Instagram, before visiting your website, and then maybe popping into your store, before purchasing online at a later date.

Being able to serve this multichannel shopper, personalise the communication, and answer their queries at the various stages of their shopping journey is not an easy task without the correct integration software and automated CX solutions.

With no physical branches, Northmill Bank relies on its digital channels, including email, phone and live chat. But it struggled to have a unified view of its customer after years of juggling four separate email inboxes, and the support team was facing considerable workflow issues before moving to a software that now provides them with a 360-view of the customer in one platform.

In France, sportswear brand Decathlon took advantage of integrations to install a remote video resolution solution, ViiBe, which brings video support and ticket tracking together to help the support team fix problems remotely and optimise resolutions on the first contact, resulting in happier customers. And don’t forget to measure your efforts – 38% of managers at mid-sized companies, and one third at enterprise companies, don’t have the right analytics tools to measure success for remote teams. But if you can’t use analytics to measure your team’s hard work, you can’t make changes to your business that will improve the CX for the end user.

Futureproofing your business

Customer. Team. Integration. Three critical areas to focus on in order to deliver great CX and futureproof your business. But what you need to remember is that you can’t pick and choose which one to digitise first. Prioritising all three is essential for future growth and as we begin to take control of the virus we will be entering a more competitive retail market than ever before, with customers ready to spend money once again. Prioritise these three areas and you’ll be best placed to fight for their business.

Redefining CX for a new era

See all the trends in our 2021 Customer Experience Trends Report.