Delivery bottlenecks in the Christmas business, disappointed customers: there is hardly anything retailers are likely to fear anymore. Retail companies do not have logistics in their own hands, but they do have relationships with their customers – and that is exactly what they should now proactively take care of, says guest author Ulrich Hoffmann from software provider Zendesk.
When the pasta shelves in the supermarket were cleared last spring, we shook our heads in disbelief. But now we could face bottlenecks again on the holidays. Even now, popular consumer electronics products such as game consoles, smartphones and tablets are either not available at all or only at significantly higher prices due to the lack of chips.
In addition, the delivery of goods to retail companies is currently difficult and unpredictable. On the one hand, there is a lack of skilled workers such as truck drivers in logistics, on the other hand Packaging and shipping boxes have become in short supply in many places due to the scarcity of raw materials. In addition, there is the interrupted supply chain, since airports and ports in China, for example, are closed.
© IMAGO / Panthermedia
Many online shoppers currently have long faces when looking at delivery times. In order not to lose them as customers, retailers need a sophisticated service strategy.
Shopping behavior is currently difficult to plan
This year’s Christmas business was and is already difficult to plan for retailers, as the forecasts for consumers’ purchasing behavior varied while e-commerce grew rapidly at the same time.
According to Mirakl Holiday Snapshot 2021 The effects of the 2020 pandemic resulted in a worldwide surge in online Christmas shopping that will continue this year. According to the survey, 48% of German consumers plan to buy their Christmas gifts online in 2021. With the delivery problem, retailers now face another challenge.
Proactive customer approach increases loyalty
What can retailers do if customers want to do their (pre-) Christmas shopping, but the goods may not be delivered on time? Since they have only limited control over the logistical problems, they absolutely need a sophisticated customer service strategy in order to maintain the loyalty of their customers.
This includes, among other things, knowing exactly what customers need and keeping their customers proactively informed at all times. As a Zendesk survey on customer experience trends at the beginning of the year shows, around 80 percent of customers go to the competition after more than one bad service experience. Only those who meet customer expectations can therefore retain customers in the long term.
The number of inquiries via messaging channels is increasing
Retailers cannot avoid the delivery bottleneck in this way, but they can keep the disappointment of the unsupervised customers in check with proactive and timely information. In order for this proactive contact to succeed, the support team should reach the customers as quickly as possible and through the channels they are familiar with.
Messaging channels are in vogue here and offer a high level of convenience for both users and employees. As the CX Trends report shows, the number of support inquiries via messaging services rose by 33% for medium-sized companies and by more than 200% for large companies.
The comfort lies in the flexibility and speed. The chat conversation can be started and stopped by both sides at any time. Service teams are more motivated to process inquiries on this channel, as they process several inquiries in parallel and can return to the conversation at any time. You can still keep an eye on all customer needs.
© IMAGO / Alexander Limbach
Chatbots can be used for inquiries that can be answered with the help of information from a well-maintained database, such as availability and delivery times.
Self-service offers can relieve employees
It can be assumed that the delivery difficulties will lead to an increase in support requests from dealers. It is therefore advisable to relieve the service agents through self-service offers. A chatbot can be used to relieve employees of work, especially for routine inquiries or recurring issues.
In particular, he can take on questions that can be answered quickly and specifically with the help of information from a well-maintained knowledge database – such as the availability, dimensions or delivery time of a product.
Doubling of the ticket volume solved by AI
Service teams can thus devote themselves to more complex inquiries and individual problems. By the way, customers don’t necessarily rate the use of a bot negatively.
According to the CX Trends Report, the average weekly ticket volume that was solved with the use of artificial intelligence has increased by 113% in Germany since the end of February 2020. This leads to the conclusion that German customers are primarily looking for quick, simple and efficient solutions to their concerns and that in some cases they would forego personal contact.
Satisfy customers and employees
In view of the delivery bottlenecks, retailers must endeavor more than ever to satisfy their customers and their employees in order to further bind both sides. Proactive communication, easy-to-find help, and easy contact options can tip the scales when it comes to loyalty.
If customers and employees get all the information they need using the right tools, expectations are clearer and the customer experience can be better controlled. Dealers should now take the opportunity to strengthen their customer relationships even in challenging times like these.
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