How is the in-store retail customer experience evolving?
American retailers appear to be facing a crisis. Brands like JC Penney, American Apparel, and Sears are all closing stores and customers there...
In recent years, the customer experience industry has been in the throes of change with significant advancements made when it comes to outbound sales. Dave Pattman, customer solutions director at Webhelp, looks at the new trends and subsequent methodologies that have come to light as the business world in general moves towards a more qualitative, customer centric way of operating.
Today, organisations driving for continuous improvement are purposefully aligning outbound sales strategies with a data driven approach designed to deliver respectful customer experiences – striking conversations which result in offering something that is wanted and/or needed.
This said, there are still some who are significantly falling short and holding on to bad practice, which presents a huge challenge for the sector. Such behaviour – which has recently been highlighted and scrutinised by the media – leaves consumers with a negative perception of businesses using outbound calls as a viable sales channel, potentially marring all progress made to date.
It is, therefore, more important than ever to approach outbound sales intelligently and develop practices and procedures that enable businesses to treat every customer as an individual rather than a number. The days of hit-and-miss cold calling really do need to be left behind for good.
Best practice now has to be guided by a scientific approach based on knowing what to offer the customer and when, with the aim of transforming a beneficial sales method from a nuisance to a productive use of time – in the eyes of the customer.
Providing an exceptional customer journey means being acutely aware of the main themes in play, which include:
Customers today value brand integrity and are more likely to remain loyal to a provider who acknowledges them with a tailored and personalised service. It is vital to successfully maintain the reputation of the business in question at every stage of the customer journey.
Gathering feedback is paramount to building on brand loyalty. The more valued a customer feels, the happier they will be to talk to you. It is important to gather feedback from across your customer base, enabling you to map out learning’s that will improve processes and deliver a better customer experience. Net Promoter Score should also be measured on both sales and non-sales calls.
A scientific and rigorous approach
Data driven analytics are hugely beneficial to building successful customer relationships. You need to know what offer to make to each customer and develop the ability to predict who will buy today, and more importantly, who will buy the most. This is only achievable through enhanced data, predictive analytics and personal engagement.
These three tactics work well together to inform a single strategy. Enhanced data sets the scene by gathering all the need-to-know information with predictive analytics taking on the baton by drilling down into customer preferences – when best to call, maximising the ability to have a positive discussion and offer the right products. The final step in the journey is personal engagement which means ensuring all employees are empowered to do things right first time with rapid resolutions to any customer queries posed.
A can-do attitude is required by everyone in the team to achieve such a streamlined process. Regular reviews and updates on current performance levels across campaigns are a must to perfect a successful outbound sales model.
Establishing outbound sales as a culture, not just a process
Effective outbound sales is driven, at the final stages, by those on the front line in direct contact with customers. This means taking time to spot and nurture talent into the right roles and invest in their future development. Some businesses believe it’s only about employing people with extensive sales experience in the contact centre environment – it’s not. It’s about developing the right people through effective coaching and performance management.
Alongside this, innovative and transparent commission structures will not only incentivise talent but equate to a drive in both customer experience and sales volume. This said, it is important to have the right people working on the right campaigns. This involves designing a campaign matrix based on level of difficulty to inform the placement of individuals, allowing for a flexible and multi-skilled workforce.
For progressive businesses conscious of the customer experience challenges ahead, it is imperative to act now and bring in processes which positively gel with the customer base as well as being compliant with Ofcom standards. Most crucially, businesses need to understand and capture what a good sales experience looks like to the customer.
The alternative could see you fast-track to losing your customers respect and damage your brand integrity – something that as others have shown could be very hard to recover from.