This article was originally published on TotalRetail blog.
The busy holiday shopping season is already upon us, bringing today’s brands an important opportunity to strengthen relationships with new and existing customers. As increasing numbers of consumers rely on e-commerce to meet their shopping needs while the overtaxed supply chain is simultaneously slowing down order fulfillment, brands are competing to navigate this challenge. As a result, more pressure will be put on customer service workers trying to answer customer questions, address any frustrations, and create a positive brand experience. And with 89 percent of businesses expected to compete mainly on customer experience, the brands that can successfully keep customers happy during this time will win.
One of the most essential aspects of delivering stellar customer service is being able to quickly and accurately access information that consumers need. For example, “Where’s my order?” will become a common question that e-commerce retailers must be prepared to answer this holiday season. Yet the average agent spends 19 percent of their time looking for answers across an enterprise’s “content sprawl” or tracking down colleagues for help. It’s no surprise that 41 percent of call-center agents say that they want artificial intelligence (AI) to tackle complex calls and help them stay on top of their game.
So how can modern retailers ensure that their customers and their customer service agents are feeling the joy of the holiday season at this stressful, high-stakes time of year? These four considerations are key to success:
Make Sure Your Remote Workforce Has Access to the Right Tools and Support
As more customer service agents work remotely, it’s essential to provide them with the support and tools they need to work as efficiently as possible from home. In fact, 42 percent of remote workers said the ability to access information quickly and easily has the greatest impact on how productive they are. As holiday shopping ramps up alongside the ever-growing volume of enterprise content, the need to quickly access answers for customers has never been more pressing.
Evaluate Your Company’s ‘Knowledge Management’ Capabilities
Before holiday shopping escalates to peak levels, now is a good time to take a look at your company’s knowledge management system and determine how expediently it’s able to capture, use and analyze your business’ collective knowledge. Outdated legacy systems are simply not able to meet today’s demands for speedy and efficient customer resolutions. Instead, look for cloud-based and AI-driven knowledge management solutions so that customer service teams can be set up for the highest levels of success at the busiest time of the year.
Put AI to Work in the Channels Your Team Uses
It’s an omnichannel world, not just for your customer but also for your employees. We toggle back and forth between applications multiple times throughout the work day, making it hard to find the right information to complete our task. Leading organizations are taking a new tack — integrating AI into teams to produce transformative business results with “Superteams.” Can your customer service agents use AI in any channel they’re working in (e.g., Slack, Salesforce, Zendesk, etc.)? If not, brands are facing the risk of longer average time-to-answer rates and high agent handle time, neither of which is acceptable, especially around the holidays.
Strike a Balance With Speed and Accuracy
Finally, make sure that your customer service capabilities can handle the need for speed and accuracy. Chatbots and self-service tools are helpful so long as they’re supported with the right knowledge. Think of a knowledge base as the brains behind your chatbot. Ensure that your self-service technology is up-to-date with the most accurate information for the holiday season. Otherwise, chatbots can frustrate consumers as they struggle to get their questions answered.
The retailers that want to deliver the best kind of holiday gift to their customers know that they need to double-down on customer service this season. By investing today in the right level of support, tools, and AI-driven knowledge automation, brands can meet the demands of holiday shoppers and tie the perfect bow around the entire customer service package.