Over the past few months, as businesses have adapted to the enormous impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic, there has been a rapid surge in online sales. Businesses which have previously focused on walk-in revenue, have found these sales have now been overtaken by online sales channels.
Sales channels and user experience
When working with businesses, the fundamental priority is to create a frictionless journey for customers. A focus on creative solutions and technology-led interventions can contribute to easing customers’ efforts in reaching the resolutions they are seeking. The enduring goal is to achieve the customer’s objective, and facilitate first-time issue resolution for the end user.
Pre-COVID, many businesses used an operational model where some of their operations were onshore and some were offshore with other providers. However, in the post-COVID-19 era, many onshore providers have not been able to follow their existing model and customers have been typically deflected to digital or self-serve channels.
One of Probe’s strategies has been to ensure that enhanced customer service is being provided in the digital channels through the use of chatbots, business insights and creative self-serve options. As part of this strategy, Convai (Automated Intelligent Conversations) has been leveraged as a line of intelligent automated call-steering to give businesses an improved self-serve option. Probe has also worked with clients in augmenting other channels, such as messaging.
The promotion of self-service is critical, as online channels generally do not generate the same amount of revenue from customers as walk-in stores. Therefore, reducing the costs associated with service is vital, and enhancing the self-service model is now essential. By collaborating with businesses through operational excellence and digital transformation, an operation’s cost to serve can be reduced.
How COVID-19 has impacted the retail sector
Since the effects of COVID-19 were first felt, it has been crucial to optimise cost through a combination of people, process and technology for businesses. For many, operations have been transitioned to countries such as the Philippines, where scaled work-from-home models have been implemented.
The onset of COVID-19 has also brought forward innovation in the sector by about 7-10 years. As the initial surge in customers to the online market began – with increased volumes of online sales – businesses needed to make quick decisions about whether they facilitated the necessary changes with people or technology-led solutions.
For our clients, benefits have been found through improved automation and increased technological abilities. Customers across the board – large businesses or supermarket chains, small and medium-sized businesses, and businesses working from a technology enabled platform – have been open to trialling newer pieces of technology. Some of the new automation being embraced includes intelligent call-steering and chatbots. Keeping in mind that the end objective is first-time resolution, the capability to deliver a seamless customer journey from sales, to service, to the final credit process is paramount.
Customer service as a ‘differentiator’
Every sector faces the following challenge – is customer service a cost or differentiation? And, in the current competitive climate, differentiating on customer service is key and will define and shape a business.
Moving forward, this means that the responsibility is now on organisations such as Probe to deliver solutions designed to facilitate the transition from customer service as a cost, to being a cost neutral competitive advantage. While COVID-19 has provided challenges, the increased demand for digital and automated solutions means it’s an exciting time for the industry, and an opportunity for business to provide customers with the best in customer experience.