3 Ways E-Commerce Has Transformed Customer Service Delivery
E-commerce has transformed the entire retail landscape and dramatically changed consumer expectations for customer service and customer experience (CX).
By 2022, e-commerce’s share of total retail sales is expected to be over 15 percent or $892 billion, and digital-impacted retail sales (purchases made online and in-store purchases by consumers using a digital channel to research or browse) are projected to account for almost 60 percent of sales. Whether it is groceries, healthcare or banking services, even industries that were once predominantly using offline transactions are leveraging the efficiencies and cost savings e-commerce delivers.
While the transition to the online world has been easy for large brands, smaller organizations can face challenges when trying to create a successful e-commerce offering. As consumers increasingly expect nearly instant access to products or services, it can be even more complex to create an individualized, quick and user-friendly experience for customers. The most successful brands offer best-in-class customer service and CX to differentiate themselves in a highly competitive landscape. According to a Qualtrics survey, .
The rapid evolution of e-commerce and technology will continue to shift consumer demands. As a result, businesses must adopt an agile, forward-thinking approach to customer service and CX to build relationships with new consumers and continue positive interactions with current customers. Below are three ways the rise of e-commerce shopping has changed how brands are delivering customer service:
#1 Increasing Importance Of Personalized Experiences
Online consumers now expect brands to provide individualized communication and personalized offers based on their relevant history. To deliver this unique experience, organizations must integrate the entire customer journey across all channels. The below technological tools have become popular to help deliver efficient and effective personalized CX:
- Round-the-clock chatbots: As consumers expect immediate access to information, chatbots have become a way to handle less complex customer service tasks quickly, at any hour. With natural language understanding, bots can provide accurate responses to simple FAQs and complete requests like scheduling an appointment. However, it is important to understand when a customer service representative is needed to respond to more detailed requests, so that customers get the level of service they expect.
- Video chat interactions: Many customers desire direct interactions with customer service representatives, and video chat technology is optimizing personal contact in the service center. With video, businesses can deliver a personal, interactive and scalable way to communicate, providing highly customized assistance in a streamlined way.
- Cross-channel customer service with artificial intelligence (AI): AI and analytics have become a tool for brands to increase the value they provide to prospective and current customers. The technology enables organizations to offer comprehensive, personalized CX through quick and helpful cross-channel customer service. AI has created an increase in curated shopping and subscription services, which provide customers with an individualized pre-selection of products by combining the efficiency of automated e-commerce transactions with personalized advice. These services are becoming increasingly important to companies’ sales strategies, and 70 percent of business leaders say that subscription and membership models will be key to future growth and expansion.
When introducing new technologies for personalization initiatives, it is crucial to remember the importance of people in the customer service equation. The balance between the human touch and technology is essential to achieving the right customer experience. After all, empathy, critical thinking and problem-solving skills will remain highly valuable when it comes to satisfying customers and creating an individualized experience.
#2 Creating New Avenues To Search For Products And Services
Consumers will often abandon an online purchase if it is difficult to find a product quickly. Therefore, it is crucial for search methods to be user-friendly – regardless of channel or method. The following search technologies are changing the game for online shopping:
- Voice assistants: Amazon’s Alexa, the Google Assistant or Apple’s Siri are gaining traction as search tools. Consumers increasingly look to voice assistants to find products and services because the input is quick and the technology delivers streamlined, easy to digest search results. Instead of a long list of products from a traditional browser search, voice assistants generally give consumers a single answer to the question. With a much narrower set of results, brands must focus on optimizing their content, so it is helpful for customers and more attractive to voice assistants.
- Videos: Given have purchased from a new brand or product after seeing it on YouTube, video has become a critical component of the customer journey. Since consumers look to video content to learn more about products and their uses, the platform also has become a strong marketing channel to build awareness about products with current and new customers. As more consumers are viewing videos on mobile devices, short promotional videos are preferred for on-the-go consumption.
- Augmented reality (AR): To connect the offline and online worlds, AR is assisting customers in the decision-making process. The technology digitally transforms the user’s environment, enabling searches, selections and purchases that are best tailored to each customer. Example use cases include viewing virtual furniture in a real room or virtually testing makeup products.
#3 Offering More User-Friendly Payment And Re-Ordering Options
The growth of e-commerce has created more purchase and payment options for consumers. Nearly 40 percent of U.S. online shoppers think that mobile payments are more efficient than other payment methods. As consumers become increasingly comfortable with mobile options, brands must integrate new payment technology to improve the efficiency of purchasing and re-ordering products.
IoT-based devices are making it easier for customers to complete transactions, accelerating and facilitating purchases. Smart shelves utilize Bluetooth signals to push notifications to consumers’ smartphones, sharing targeted, specific information about new offers in the area. Digital transmitters (or beacons) have the ability to automatically trigger payment processes when a customer leaves a store and can alert when products need to be re-stocked.
Voice assistants are also processing purchases through voice commands to authenticate a payment. However, many people are weary of error and not currently using the technology for shopping. As people become more familiar with tool and build trust in voice assistants, it will be more common for voice assistants to initiate payments.
With e-commerce only continuing to grow as a sales channel, brands must examine the role of CX and customer service in differentiating from competitors and fostering customer loyalty. In the case of personalization, companies must consider the advantages of new technologies like chatbots, video and automation.
As customers look for new products and searches online, businesses must look at the growth of voice assistants, video, and AR to stay relevant for information-hungry consumers. With more payment channels emerging, organizations must manage the demand for mobile payments and connected device payment processing.
Throughout the customer journey, brands have to keep in mind the value of the human touch in delivering top-notch customer service. While new innovations are heralded for their ability to deliver process improvements and efficiency gains, the human skills customer service representatives possess must remain central to the process.
With a sharp focus on changing consumer expectations, companies can anticipate how e-commerce will continue to shape the customer service and CX landscape and successfully provide positive interactions that will position the business for growth.