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Customer service in retail: engaging, empowering and anticipating what’s next

Customer service in retail: engaging, empowering and anticipating what’s next

Working with some of the world’s most admired retail brands – and others who aspire to be – means we are consistently asked about the state of customer service in retail by brands and the media outlets who cover them. Here’s what’s top of mind for 2019.

1. Engaging emotionally. 

Today’s best retailer customer service experiences are driven by delivering a connection that uniquely aligns with the emotional profile of a customer. This must go beyond the fundamentals of addressing specific issues empathetically in the moment to the point of developing more authentic and empathetic engagements with customers throughout the buying journey.

Three keys to engaging emotionally throughout the journey:

  • Reveal an authentic understanding of what matters most to your consumers. This seems painfully obvious, but so often sacred cows get in the way of the kind of intimate knowledge and understanding that gives way to true emotional resonance with audiences that matter most to brands.
  • Optimize ads emotionally to deliver top-of-funnel brand awareness building. We’ve developed numerous efficacy studies using our EmotionalDNA® tool to confirm ads perform best when they’re emotionally congruent with the programs in which they air.
  • Use existing customer data to better engage directly. Magid data shows customers expect companies to optimize their experience with varying degrees of permission based on the industry.

2. Empowering with technology.

Online chat offers retailers and brands the ability to quickly react to customer service issues more efficiently. Many see this as a way to reduce customer service costs and don’t resource appropriately. This is a mistake – chat is one of the most effective means of engaging directly with customers on their terms and requires a serious strategy.

Customers continue to rank online chat as an increasingly important feature they look for in retailers and brands. As with most customer service-related stories, Nordstrom gets high ratings here for offering 24/7 chat and specialists in key categories.

3. Anticipating what’s next.

» Voice

The explosion and appeal of voice-enabled devices will allow retailers and brands to expand into a new dimension of commerce. With Google and Amazon driving massive promotions over the 2018 holiday season, it was hard to walk out of a Best Buy without a smart speaker in hand. At the end of the day, the ultimate disruption may not be in the smart speakers themselves, but rather the voice-enablement built directly into cars, home appliances, and other electronics.

Regardless, innovative retailers are actively determining the right use cases that drive consumer engagement with their brands. Many are already rapidly deploying skills-based content to get their brands into Alexa and Google’s vast ecosystems just as Butterball did when it added the Butterball skill on Alexa in time for Thanksgiving last year.

» Customization for the masses

Technology continues to up the ante with more and more consumers looking for previously unheard-of levels of customization. Last year, Nike made waves with its ‘house of innovation’ and sneaker customization (which Forbes covered as the “Best Retail Experience of 2018”). Recently Clinique announced new iD pop-ups, which aim to deliver a unique product and experience that moves beyond transactional beauty. Whether it’s in the products, experiences or both, online or off – consumers want customization.

Customer service is the realization of your brand experience. The best brands already know this. Learn more about Magid’s work with the world’s largest retailers. »

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