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12/20/2021

The Future Customer Experience Is Already Here

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customer

Shoppers want everything about their relationship with retailers and brands to be seamless regardless of channel. It’s not just the ability to buy anywhere, fulfill anyhow, it’s the meaningful and memorable experience that matters most.   

Read on to discover why the traditional linear path-to-purchase is dead, and how customer service is a critical component of the new lifecycle of engagement. Discover how the leaders in the field are taking the idea of omni-commerce to the next level and satisfying consumer demand for a personalized experience at scale.

Tim Denman: Welcome, everyone to the “Omnichannel Customer Service: Lessons from Retail Leaders” webinar, which is hosted by RIS and presented by Genesys. I'm Tim Denman, editor-in-chief of CGT and RIS, and I thank you for joining us today.

Shoppers want everything about the relationship with retailers and brands to be seamless across channels. It's not just the ability to buy anywhere, fulfill anytime — the vast majority of consumers believe that a company is only as good as its customer service. While retailers continue to enable omni-commerce and digital experiences, omnichannel customer service has lagged behind with two in three shoppers dissatisfied with the cross-channel customer service they're currently receiving.

With us to explore why the traditional linear path to purchase is dead, how customer service can be revitalized, what constitutes omni-customer-service excellence, the key capabilities retailers must focus on, and how AI and automation can deliver the differentiated experiences of customers are Guarav Pant from Incisiv, Rick Olson from Genesys, and Nick Chaillier from Genesys EMEA.

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headshots

For those of you unfamiliar with Genesys by name, you're likely familiar with many of the brands, retailers, and organizations that use their technology. Through the power of the cloud in AI, Genesys technology connects every customer moment across marketing, sales, and service on any channel, while simultaneously improving employee experiences.

Genesys is a pioneer of Experience as a Service, which allows organizations of any size to provide personalization at scale, interact with empathy, and foster customer trust and loyalty, all enabled by Genesys' multiple cloud and digital experiences solutions.

I’d like to invite each member of our panel to describe their role at their respective companies. Rick, would you like to go first?

Rick Olson: My name is Rick Olson, head of industry strategy for retail, hospitality and tourism for Genesys. I’ve got three decades of retail in my blood from operations in-store at the frontline, to the futurism of what's coming. I'm looking forward to the conversation today.

Nick Chaillier: My name is Nick, I’m head of the retail vertical for Genesys' consultancy group, EMEA. My role is to work with our teams internally, with our customers and our prospects, and help to solve the challenges and pitfalls of omnichannel customer engagement.

Guarav Pant: I’m excited to be back with my friends at RIS and our partner Genesys. I'm Guarav, the chief insights officer at Incisiv. We do a lot of work benchmarking the consumer experience, and of course, our executive view of it. I’m looking forward to sharing some of our findings and hope we have a fun discussion about NFTs.

Denman: Thank you, gentlemen. I appreciate all of you being here. Guarav, let’s get started.

Pant: To kick off our discussion, I’ll be structuring the conversation in three broad areas. The first is, why are we here? Why is this team important for us? The second is to share a preview of a benchmarking around consumer service, or rather the OmniGen customer. Third is the more practical aspects: given these two things, how do we actually improve maturity and focus in this area? So, that's at least how the conversation is structured.

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re-shaping

Customer service has always been important. At every point in time, when you say customer service – it’s always been important. However, there are four key elements that are raising its importance even more. The first being the death of the traditional path-to-purchase or the consumer funnel. The way in which we shop consumer content and engage is non-linear. It’s no longer a funnel of consumer commerce, rather it's a continuum of engagement. That means that customer service elements, commerce elements, queries, discovery can happen in different parts from a channel perspective at the same time — retailers and brands need to understand how these many things are interconnected. This is especially true looking at different generational cohorts and how they shop online. That's the first part, which is not only digital, but with this depth of linearity, we need to be prepared for anywhere, anytimecommerce, conversation, engagement, and actually helping the shopper.

The second piece is the ease of switching. You can change a shopper's preference with a flick of a finger – that’s how easy it is. Most consumers and shoppers are looking to switch brands after one bad experience. We have examples of this across returns, bad customer service experience, a chat, or not finding a product. When we are at this knife's edge from a customer expectation perspectiveloyalty isa better term to throw out but retailconsumers aren't exhibiting it.

The third is the Amazonification of everything. There are two points here because use of that as a word can be confusing. What that means is that the bar that we have for an experience from all of retail is set by Amazon. Whether we like it or not, if they do free shipping, you have to match free shipping. If they do returnless refunds, you have to match that. From a retailer perspective, you have to continuously increase that bar and invest in the elements that they are doing. They're out flanking us across different elements. We have to play that game.

This isn’t customer service only in the aspect of when things go wrong. It's across that entire continuum of the path-to-purchase, from discovery to commerce and beyond that.
Guarav Pant

The fourthis a labor shortage. Not a week has gone by when we haven’t read this. It's not only the great resignation, but labor costs and everything that comes with it, like wages, etc. We have to figure out how to do more with less. Now, what underlies a lot of thisis growth – protecting linearity, extremely high competitionin terms of shopper preferences and the labor market. The one thing that's been constant across our research on retail shoppers and personalization is that the human element has an outsized impact on the consumer experience and the desire to return as a patron of a particular brand. That is a huge element because as brands, welook at positive flywheel effects, so we can drive the consumer to the cycle, get recommendations, get the basket up, and gain loyalty. Customer service as a way of doing that is critically important. This isn’t customer service only in the aspect of when things go wrong. It's across that entire continuum of the path-to-purchase, from discovery to commerce and beyond that.

Now, I'm going to hand it over to Nick. Genesys, our partners, have done a lot of research on the consumer experience and how that's changing. They have great research to share, and important findings from that research.

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consumer experiences

Chaillier:Thanks Guarav. Here is one of the charts from the “State of Customer Experience,” which is research that we commissioned a few months ago based on consumer and business findings related to customer experiences. Here specifically, consumers were asked for insight around what they value most when engaging with a business.

Broadly speaking, they value businesses that listen and understand them. That data certainly mirrors my experience running conversational programs over the last few years in the D2C space. Consumers want frictionless experiences that remove the need for them to interact with the contact center in the first place. Things such as product discovery, assortment, product recommendation, shipping and logistics, and transactional queries. If that information is proactively surfaced to customers at the right time and the right channel, businesses are delivering a great frictionless experience, which negates the need for consumers to get in touch with them.

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consumer experiences

This is seen in the language and options that were selected by consumers: They talk about it, listen and understand their knowledge of my history, understand my current activities, I don't have to repeat myself, they anticipate.  All of these words speak to what consumers want from the businesses that they're loyal to today.

Now, this won't work 100% of the time. When that frictionless experience breaks, it's important to focus on speed and then resolution, which is on the customer's time. Once again, this is where we see a disconnect. Both businesses and consumers acknowledge that speed is very important, but the disconnect, which I find particularly interesting based on my experience, is that CX leaders think of professionalism and friendliness as much more important than consumers do.

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customer service

I have to say, I'm on the consumer side here. I've done a lot of agent training in luxury in the D2C market and I remember having long drawn conversations around the tone of voice and voice of the brand. My view back then, andstill today, is that consumers are not contacting customer service to make friendsthey're not interested in lengthy, potentially insincere expressions of regret or empathy. It's vital to be friendly and empathetic, but never to detriment of speed and efficiency.

Pant:There are three elements here that stand out. The first is the speed of resolution: getting to that, making sure it's clear, and it's taken care of. The second part, I love what you said, it’s empowering the shoppers, transparency of where things are, allowing them to do things on their own. If you've contacted a service agent at any time to get help, something hasn't worked as expected, or you don't have the right information, and you can't find what you're looking for.Something has happened, that's unexpected, that's a huge part of the focus. The third and clever pointis thatyou're not here to make friends versus trying to get an issue resolved. There’s a fine line there, which is as much about personality as anything else. The key element that's come upis having empathy with the shopper and the customer at that point, which is easy to do when you can look at someone, get visual cues and play off them, but is much harder to do in this digitally distant world.

Rick, you have three decades of experience in retail and lived all parts of it. How do we build this empathy in this digital, distant, difficult world? You have a framework, but how do we do that in a manner that doesn't seem disingenuous, which is really hard.

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pillars

Olson: One of the biggest pieces when you're trying to connect a human with the technology, is the first mindset of how do you do it? When you step back, it's all about the consumer, their entire journey, and how well you know them. Genesys has four pillars of empathy across the top and through the heart of the business. We want to listen – how did the shopper know them; do we listen to them? Get that information because that’s the second piece. What do they need? It's understanding them, it's not about making a friend at that point as Nick said.

It's about making sure that the number one objective of the consumer is getting the resolution solved quickly with one touchpoint. You need to understand what they're going after. It may take a couple seconds longer, but if you understand it, that's the most important piece. Once you have the action, how do you respond to that? When you connect with digital, that becomes an important piece through the entire empathy pillar. That's something that we all neglect to learn: What did we find out? How did it happen? Let's look at our data, at the results. What do we need to change to make the experience better next time for that customer? It’s about listening to your customers and understanding what they’re saying, then taking action on it. It continues that cycle: transfer, repeat. That's how you connect technology with the empathy side of things.

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benchmark

Pant: It's clearly important, given all the elements – competition, changing shopper preferences, these elements of speed of resolution, the empowerment, transparency, and the empathy piece. Now, in our partnership with Genesys, we've undertaken a fairly robust benchmark of 102 U.S. retailers. We are benchmarking 110 digital capabilities that they have related to customer service. This is across apparel, consumer electronics, department, storage, merchandise, grocery. We've gone across all three dimensions of the shopper journey, which is discovery, purchase, and customer service.

The reason for that is from a shopper perspective, we're looking at frictionless, smooth journeys. If you're able to complete a transaction, or something end-to-end without any interference, that's a great experience because I was able to get my objective – those elements of discovery purchase.

Do I have the right information? Is search aiding me the right way? Can I get to what I need to? Is the purchase smooth and seamless? Can someone assist me at that point in time? Are all elements that form a part of customer service. If it's come to the point of a question to an associate, something has already gone wrong, or clearly we haven’t done a good enough job, which is why we are studying the entire service spectrum across these three elements.

We are benchmarking all of these retailers and will publish a leaderboard, which we’ve shared a sneak preview of already. We also provide details of each one of these elements, including why we studied it, what attributes we studied, who’s doing well vs. who isn’t, and more critically, what things we can learn from the leaders and implement in a manner that can help improve maturity.

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360 degree

Here, I’d like to discuss 360-degree customer satisfaction as one of the pillars, but first, I'm going to go back to something from earlier. From a shopper perspective, this level of the positive flywheel effect that happens when you get positive reinforcement. Positive customer service is a huge driver of repeat customer loyalty and on just a higher NPS overall. This positive reinforcement is the reason to make sure that customer service and customer satisfaction is extremely high. The second is to enable shoppers to communicate digitally. It could be email, online, or video-based interaction with store associates, for example.

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live chat

We must ensure these elements connect the shopper to the associate in a manner that's seamless, clear, and that works for them. So, what have we studied as a part of this? We looked at what self-help tools are available. Can we deliver live chat? Then, we broke live chat into different elements: Do we have live chat? Is it 24/7? What can we do with it? Do we have customer engagement and an assistant channel?

There are 110 of these attributes that we looked across to get to two factors. The first is, do we have them, do we have FAQs? Do we have chats? Do we have all these things that make customer service easy? The second is measuring the efficacy of those. How well it can be executed, response time, going through live buying cycles, interaction cycles, across multiple experiences – ensuring a good assessment of both the availability and efficacy across all of these. That's the broad idea.

We’ve talked about the framework, here is one element of it: customer service (I'm focusing on one element, but the rest is in the report). We’ll look at live chat and the impact that's had. First, we are seeing live chat has a high amount of adoption, which has gone up exponentially over the last few years. At the same time, there are only about 18% of retailers that actually have this 24/7, which is understandable, it’s a huge cost and it's challenging. Additionally, there are only about 15% of retailers that have it as an auto-chat pop-up when you seem to be stuck somewhere. Meaning if you spend more than a particular amount of time on a page, it automatically pops up.

There are different elements here. The first being its higher adoption rate. In addition to being a repeat buyer, there's also a higher chance that you’ll have a higher basket size, which is of course great from an ROI perspective.

This is increasingly important because there is a tremendous amount of data, information and content from a site perspective. As shoppers, we may not know where to go or focus for a particular piece of information. Live chat helps to do that fairly well. You're able to get this information across the board and in about 70% of cases, an agent can actually help you modify your order as well. If you get stuck, an agent can help you do all of these things. However, there are only 15% that can actually have this auto chat up to proactively help customers versus not. Only about half of all live chat options actually have an agent that knows what's in your cart, which is where we get the disconnect.

There are only 15% that can actually have this auto chat up to proactively help customers versus not. Only about half of all live chat options actually have an agent that knows what's in your cart, which is where we get the disconnect.
Guarav Pant

Increasingly, if we think of the kids and the next generation, voices are the next point of entry. Looking at voices as a way of shopping and hey, play me whatever the latest video is that's trending right now. Rick, I'm curious to see how you see this evolving live chat. What does the future hold from a chatbot perspective voice? How do you see this evolving?

Olson: Chatbot, you mentioned, it's voice. What is the next piece coming at us? We want to be able to get out in front and throw out the live chat, the conversation, build the AI behind-the-scenes in order to get that empathy we spoke about earlier – listening, finding out what it is, but that next evolution of life. Many of us have had Google go off of Alexa based on a commercial. It's there. I've ordered some stuff on my Google. It wasn't the smoothest process ever, but that's what we need to start looking at because it's going to come.

Chaillier: One of the issues with live chat is that it forces a session. Live chat is actually a synchronous channel, just like voice. It forces a consumer to take X-amount of time of their day to resolve an intent — time that they probably hadn't planned. To your question, automation, of course, but specifically in Europe we are seeing an asynchronous channel. Asynchronous messaging where you are on the consumer's time, the consumer can ask you a question on whatever channel they use – Apple Business Chat, WhatsApp, Messenger, whichever – then get a response whenever the agent comes back to them. What's important is that as they wait for their response, they get on with their day. You don't have the disconnects that live chat can offer. It's awfully in sync, all the history is there. It allows consumers to get on with their day without having to wait on hold, essentially.

Pant: Do you think this will become the case across the U.S. as well? I know it happens in Asia. I was trying to buy a new MacBook recently, and Apple has nice, not an iMessage base, but a synchronous chat as well. You mentioned it’s in Europe, but do you think perhaps the U.S. has been behind from an adoption perspective, do you think it's just a matter of time?

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live chat

Chaillier: The U.S. has been behind. One of our customers, a large travel company in Europe, went live on WhatsApp. Remember that in the main European countries, WhatsApp is installed on 80-90% of devices. Other than SMS, it’s as ubiquitous a channel as it gets. Another customer, a major holiday brand, used to have a “Call Now” button, as well as a live chat, they moved forward by introducing a WhatsApp button. At the same time, they introduced a request for a callback. The WhatsApp call to action got four times the conversions of any other entry point.

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always on engagement

We're not talking about 10 people. We're talking about tens of thousands of engagements on a daily basis, and the reason is simple. These are the channels that consumers are using with friends and family every day. As businesses, there's often an inside-out view of the market. We have our own processes as businesses and we want to try and force customers down to those processes. You don't have to do that with sync communication. Every customer out there is already using this to talk to their kids, their families, their friends, so channel adoption is already there. Businesses coming onto those channels is a natural progression.

Pant: That's a great point. When thinking about what live chat does well and what it doesn't. When you want to get information – policies, processes, orders, all of that – you can do that well, even though there's only half of agents that can have that information. You can modify an order, 70% can help you do that. But when it comes to elements like cross-selling or personalization, that's where live chat falls behind. If you look at elements that have come up, including AI and other things behind the voice-based entry. That's the only way to get to that level of personalization, or your empathy, because you understand the shoppers' context and can do more with it.

The cross-sell up-sale is relevant because it gets the same point: the shopper's history can help them right now. What's a relevant suggestion versus pushing an offer because it came up in my CRM system? It's a different word, there's a bit of a nuance there. How do you see these two things evolving? I’m curious to see if you guys have any thoughts on other best practices, in addition to what you've shared.

Chaillier: On the personalization side, live chat is always going to struggle. It's as simple as that. Live chat will struggle to personalize because most people go on the retail website, they don't log in before they initiate the chat. That's not a natural behavior. The alternative to being authenticated before a live chat session is what we call a pre-chat survey. Those pre-chat surveys when they ask your name, what do you want to talk to us about? Unfortunately, pre-chat surveys are known to quite dramatically lower chat acceptance. If 100 people start a chat and there is no pre-chat survey, probably 50 will end up chatting. If there is a pre-chat survey, maybe 30 will chat – don't quote me on these figures, but it's not a million miles away.

The problem with live chat is that you need to make a decision between personalization and frictionless. Most retailers will go for frictionless before personalization. The entire question disappears when you are in an authenticated messaging app because we know who you are. However, in a chat that’s broadly unauthenticated, unless it's service chat and you need to log into a portal first etc. For retail live chat there will always be a struggle with the personalization side of things, that's just the nature of the system.

The problem with live chat is that you need to make a decision between personalization and frictionless. Most retailers will go for frictionless before personalization.
Nick Chaillier

Olson: Nick is absolutely right. What is the normal progression of a consumer? Are you forcing them down a path? As a customer, if I jump on there I don't want extra content coming my direction, I just want to get an answer. I may not use my primary email in an effort to avoid that – I may have a secondary, a third. It's about trying to get back to that personalization question we talked about. Have you listened to them in the beginning to find out what they need? Once you start getting back to starting from the basics, that will help with the live chat. It'll be part of the natural progression to go through that journey.

 

Once you start getting back to starting from the basics, that will help with the live chat. It'll be part of the natural progression to go through that journey.
Rick Olson

Chaillier:Absolutely. The context. Looking at each live chat as a brand new session, through lack of authentication, and the context in that journey, including what the customer has done. How can we start measuring propensity to buy, or are they struggling with something? All of that context allows you to reach out to that customer and say, “can we help you with all of this?” However, that context needs to be passed across the agent to allow them to do that personalization on the fly.

Pant:The element that a lot of that comes from is the fact that not only are we trying to make something work across channels we own, but perhaps across channels we may not have the best control over. I love the idea of asynchronous chat, WhatsApp, and messagingbecause those are the most natural and personal ways of engagement. Our lives, our friends, our family are all on those channels. That’s a big part of channel unification and some other elements, which is intuitive. Perhaps not as obvious, is that there's a lot of data integration and technology that needs to be behind the scenes to get all of this to work as well.

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cx leaders

Here we have a quick sneak preview for everybody who joined in because you're live. This is our leaderboard of the 2021 Leaders for Omnichannel Customer Service. There are a lot of department stores, a lot of specialty retailers. While the report will have details on why each one of them are leaders, we’re going to share the two key elements on why they are.

First, a majority of them have the ability to serve and track shoppers across channels. You could have a cart, but can you actually track it? Second, they do a much better job of personalizing or providing the right information at the time that shoppers need it. When it comes to cross-sell and up-sell, providing feedback, personalized greetings.

Now, this all sounds great, but how do we make this possible with all the challenges that we currently have? It's good for me to pontificate as a person who's on the research side saying, you got to do this and that, but Rick has been in the weeds and he knows how difficult systems are, technology is, and the mainframe still exists. We think of this on two levels. First, what do we need from a business perspective? The unification of channelsserving the shoppers where they are, whether they're owned or not owned, however you can be. We need to have authentic intelligence, which is the element of personalization, perhaps in a different way.

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core capabilities

We use this because we are not looking at this as an auto bot that looks at data and churns things out. Rather as an element of that human empathy as well. It's a mix of both. Third is comprehensive self-service, which is how we empower shoppers to go down that personalized, customized, shopper journey.

How do we do that? Those are the three core tenets that we have from an execution perspective. Now, before we get into this and, I'm curious, actually, let me do something, let me kind of break the flow.

How do you replicate this from a focus perspective? Where should brands focus over the next six or so months? Is it on getting the front piece in place or the tech elements, which is getting processes to work together, getting data to work together, and getting an ecosystem that works.

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omni customer

Chaillier:What I've been fighting for a long time, is really this chat channel unification piece. I find that companies get very excited with new channels, new capabilities. People are talking about AR now. Lowe’s just launched something new yesterday on the app, which is spatial shopping. Now, there's so many gizmos and new things — when you look beneath the surface and realize that there's a totally fragmented view of the consumer. My advice to all of my customersis get that foundation right. After that, start playing around with channels. If a customer comes in on WhatsApp one day, but then they call you another day, where's that link, how does the agent know the context? How does the agent understand that maybe something's up with that customer?

The foundational layer is that single customer view. Once that's done, go crazy with channels. So many companies have one solution for social channels, another solution for one-way SMS broadcasting, another solution for two-way SMS messaging and asynchronous messaging, then yet another solution for the AVR. This means that one customer is essentially 5, 6, 7, or 8 different customers. Getting an omnichannel view of the customer is imperative before getting into fancier things – there has to be a foundation.

If you don't have the basics, the foundation, and know your stack – you don't have full visibility. Once you get the basics right, you can start adding on the next level to make the experience even better. That's an important piece.
Rick Olson

Olson: Nick, you've been around the industry for a long time as well. It's getting back to the basics. If you don't have the basics, the foundation, and know your stack – you don't have full visibility. Once you get the basics right, you can start adding on the next level to make the experience even better. That's an important piece.

Pant: You’ve both mentioned how critical the elements or the foundation is. We know that getting to this seamless service is critical – across channels, the intelligence, all of that. Having been in the industry for such a long time, what makes this so hard? Why is this so difficult? Nick, you mentioned having seven, eight systems. Rick, can you talk to that? Tying those two things together, why is this such a difficult and expensive problem? What are the complexities that we don't see?

Olson: If you take it past the current store experience and look at what’s heard on the news, the supply chain is broken. That's going to impact the experience. The manufacturing is behind based on everything that's happened over the last year, that's going to impact your experience. Getting out in front and looking at everything that's coming at retail is tough right now, there are a lot of challenges. From staffing to inventory shortages, new payment methods – the consumers are in control and want what they want because of what they've gone through. They know that retail can get you there.

Over the past year, retail has done a lot of work on how to quickly jump and bolt on a solution, which is causing more challenges. Everything has been disparate information. It goes right back to speed. It's getting in there and trying to get stuff done quickly, but if you don't have all the information, it can make that touchpoint even more complicated.

Pant: The last 18 months have basically been putting band aids on a wound that's ever-growing. How do you get to this place where you can do some of these elements you've talked about? What's the path forward? Do you tackle one thing? Do you go for the single view of the customer? Where should you focus your attention? Because with all these elements that are obviously significant headwinds with respect to cost and profitability. How do you navigate this? How do you decide which is the most important thing to tackle right now? Is there a framework that you think of in terms of how to prioritize the focus?

Chaillier: How do you focus on this? Having what serves companies the best these days is having an agnostic view. There'll be a new channel tomorrow or a new gizmo next week, trust me. If you are starting down the path of doing channel-specific strategies, you're not doomed to fail, but you're certainly making your job a lot harder than it needs to be. The channels shouldn't matter. The touchpoints shouldn't matter. The only thing that matters is understanding who the customer is across an entire digital ecosystem and non-digital ecosystem.

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omni customer

If we start with that, it doesn't have to be that complicated if you have the right tools. That's the most important piece. I used to work for a digital pure play, 50% of our conversation with customers were: How do we get this over that? How do we do that? Of course, it's difficult when you have data silos because companies are building their solutions to be able to work in those siloes. Searching for these things takes time, it costs money, and it's a challenge for retailers themselves because it's all owned by different teams. It becomes politics, and it's a mess.

It should start with having that channel agnostic view. Having the right system to do that, and then starting to look at the customer journey? What are the different touchpoints? How can customers dip in and out of an engagement? The core piece is getting that structure right.

Olson: It's the structure and thinking of scalability, what's next, how you want to continue to add, and looking at the new gizmos and widgets that are coming. You need to have the right foundation to build on in order to do that later.

Pant: We've talked about getting the process in place, a lot of the data and integration pieces, third parties, which is absolutely critical from a success perspective. You have to start getting the foundation, you can't get everything right, right off the bat, but you have to untie some of these webs because new gizmos and other things will come up. We need to integrate voice with whatever else – the metaverse – whatever may come in the future.

From a foundation perspective, do you think there needs to be an organizational structural change to help some of these elements? Is there something that we need to do to help assist improvement in customer service? Is it actually having a single view of the customer, but not the customer owner? I'm curious to know if there are structural elements that you think need to happen to accompany these kinds of massive macro changes?

Chaillier:They are happening — we’ve seen it over the last five years. There used to be the brick-and-mortar retail internal structure, then there was the digital one, and then this hilarious conversation whereby people would buy stuff online. The head of online would be happy,  and then they would return to the store and the guy in-store would be uptight. For example, there’s one specifichigh-profile retailer in the U.K. that was getting up to 30% returns on a monthly basis in-store from items that were bought online. Now, I can see the revenue structures are being consolidated into not only a single team, but a single owner.

There’s the rise of the CRO in retail, which 5-7 years ago didn’t exist. That job titlesays a lot. It’s a person who is now responsible for revenue, regardless of whether it's digital or in-store. That structural change needs to exist because for many years, this was looked at as a hobby that a bunch of geeks were doing in the corner. In reality, the actual job was sales per square foot. Now companies are starting to realize that they should be talking to these guys a bit more, they’re not a different company.

Olson:The only thing I’d like to add is that organizations have to get on the same objective, the same goals. There can't be different sales goals across differentchannels in terms of how to operate with the consumerthe consumer doesn't care, they just want the right product at the right place at the right time. That's where the internal organizational structures need to look.

Pant:For a quick recap. Consumers want what they want at the time that they want it with the test of linearity. You're looking at shoppinganywhere, buying anywhere, customer serviceanywhere. We've clearly seen that positive customer service experiences lead to incremental loyalty, exponential sales, and more. It’s an important part of driving long-term success to the business.

From a benchmarking perspective we've learned that you have to look at customer service more holistically across the shopping journey. Not looking at the point-of-failure when something has gone wrong but addressing it at the point-of-discovery and FAQs. Those are elements of empowering the shopper to do what they can, as well as making sure that you're able to resolve the queries that come up in a manner that's clear, precise, and empathetic.

The other element with the orchestration of service is the element of people. It's no longer a hobby, it’s here to stay. Goals must be aligned so that customer service is both customer service and business for the organization. It's one retail vs. silos.
Guarav Pant

The fundamentals of getting to that is stitching the foundation together. Getting the process and data because that's the only way to serve up experiences today. To the next point, channels, gizmos and fun things may come up for the future. The other element with the orchestration of service is the element of people. It's no longer a hobby, it’s here to stay. Goals must be aligned so that customer service is both customer service and business for the organization. It's one retail vs. silos. That's the conversation so far, Tim, I'll hand it over to you.

Denman:Thanks. Great conversation, Guarav, Rick, and Nick. Our first question references Uber and predictive resolutions. For instance, if a driver takes a suboptimal route, Uber's able to automatically calculate the difference in fare, refund the rider, and notify them of what they're doing. How can retailers contend with this service and what could they learn from these experiences?

I'll start this off. Doing the right thing for the consumer is the bottom line. If you're making a bad decision or know something's wrong with delaying a shipment, take care of it up front, don't make customers go through hoops to call the contact center. Be proactive. It's going to build your loyalty.

Chaillier:I would say the exact same, but with a different angle. If you're proactive with that information, you're saving yourself the cost of that contact. If you immediately say, “we know there's a problem, we are looking into it, don't worry about it.The customer is less likely to contact the company. Naturally, this relies on having the data. Clearly a lot of systems need to work together and be orchestrated to make this happen. All of that is very possible. Very importantly, it comes back to the first point I made today: if you proactively reach out to customers with the right information at the right time in their channel, then you remove their need to contact you.

Denman:We’ve heard a lot recently about journey orchestration and identity stitching. Can you guys talk about the importance of these technologies and where you see that headed in the future of customer service?

Olson:We've indicated that, or we've teased a little bit throughout the conversation today. Having the right information through predictive analytics, understanding where that client is going, putting in the pillars of empathy, and putting that all together will help make the conversation and experience much better for the consumer, as well as for the client or the business itself. Nick, do you have anything to add on that?

Chaillier:It's critically important. Differentiating offerings, products, and services these days is incredibly difficult. Customers follow the brands that give them fantastic experiences. It's not about the product that will make a decision, whether you purchase at Best Buy or Amazon, it's going to be about who is offering that seamless, frictionless journey. It’s more important than ever for companies that want to compete.

Denman:Guarav, I don't want you to feel like our viewers aren't interested in your thoughts. You mentioned the metaverse in today’s discussion. Do you think the concept of the metaverse is going to enhance the customer experience even more? Or is it just a flash in the pan thing that we don't need to worry about?

Pant:Nobody knows what the metaverse is. The elements of the metaverse are already here. We spend most of our lives online and with the pandemic we've been on Zoom and other platforms all the time. This element is there, whether we actually have avatars there and interacting completely, I don't know what that timing would be. I absolutely believe it's a real and immediate possibility. As Rick had mentioned, we live our lives on apps WhatsApp, whatever it isit's a matter of time before we push that boundary even further. Looking at the most natural place in which you inhabit to gain customer service and help is a natural progression.

I don't know what that timing would be, but it's a matter of time before that happens. The only element that I’d add is, “the future is here,” but it's disproportionately a portion. You have elements from an Asia perspective, especially with chat now that would be further ahead of the curve there. We will catch up soon, but it's real. It’s going to happen, elements of it are here, but it may be a much longer timeframe than what we have.

Denman:Well, we are out of time. Thanks to Guarav, Rick and Nick for their time, and everyone for listening in. Thank you to Genesys for their sponsorship and support. Thank you for joining and we'll talk next time.