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Weekly focus: the latest in retail customer service

Weekly focus: the latest in retail customer service

In a new feature on Future.Customer., each week we'll examine the biggest stories shaping the future of customer service in different markets. This week: Retail. We focus on why blending AI and human interaction is key, what direct-to-consumer brands (D2C) can learn from traditional shops and why people will pay for great service.

D2C brands are discovering why customer service is king….

The way people shop has changed dramatically over the past few years, with advances in new technology meaning that consumers can now cut out the middle man and buy directly from the manufacturer via their own online shops or via social media.

This new way of shopping is easier, quicker and more convenient for consumers, so surely everyone loves it? Not according to new research from marketing agency Diffusion. Its 2018 Direct-to-Consumer Purchase Intent Index [1] says that D2C brands are falling short when it comes to service, with only nine per cent of shoppers saying customer service from D2C brands is superior to that of traditional brands. So, what are these newcomers missing?

Maya Mikhailov, CMO and co-founder of mobile app GPShopper, says that while smart technology has transformed the retail landscape, in-store shopping is making a comeback.

After all, face-to-face customer service and the ability to see, touch and try the merchandise is something that e-commerce simply can’t replace.

Read the article here.

… and why consumers are willing to pay more for great customer service

Keeping costs low is important when running a business, but a recent study has revealed that many would be willing to pay a higher price for a product if it came with outstanding customer service.

The research by e-commerce agency PushON says that more than 50 per cent of business customers would buy products – especially big-ticket items such as computer hardware or furniture – at a more expensive price if the retailer offered a good level of service.

This is a great opportunity for smaller businesses, which might struggle to compete with the prices of e-commerce giants, to set themselves apart by offering the highest standard of customer service possible.

With AI-assisted products becoming more affordable and accessible, more SMEs can use automated technology in their customer service offering. Customer portals, live chat options or call-now buttons all make it easier for customers to get in touch.

After all, there is nothing more frustrating than a company that is hard to get hold of.

Read the article here.

Is the future cashier-less?

With people now living increasingly busy lives, it’s not often we get a proper lunch break. So, there’s nothing more infuriating than finding a long queue when you’re dashing to grab a sandwich.

Amazon hopes to tackle this by rolling out up to 3,000 AmazonGo convenience stores by 2021.

Customers can do all their shopping using a simple smartphone app, with sensors and computer-vision technology automatically detecting what they take off the shelves and billing them directly.

The question is, will cashier-less stores be a hit? Our research found that when it comes to customer service people like a mix of technology and the human touch. But when time is short and the transaction is simple, automation can be the best way forward.

Read the article here.

Blending bots and humans is the key to great customer service

Self-service checkouts, chatbots and virtual assistants are now commonplace when we’re shopping, and consumers are growing increasingly accepting of automated devices.

Research by Aspect Software found that 50 per cent of shoppers recognize the benefits that smart technology can bring. Yet, they also believe that businesses should employ human staff alongside AI.

In fact, half of the 2,000 people questioned as part of Aspect’s survey say that there should be a human customer service assistant present when technology is in use, who can help to deal with issues or complex queries.

Technology alone won’t guarantee positive customer feedback but finding the right blend of AI and human interaction will.

More here.

[1] https://www.diffusionpr.com/news/94/diffusions-2018-direct-to-consumer-purchase-intent-index

Author: Editorial team Future. Customer.

Tags for this article Customer Experience (88) Customer Service (98) E-Commerce (9) Retail (11)

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