Commerce Trends

by Manhattan Associates

An Omni-Channel Customer: Modern Customer Service Gaps—and more importantly, what you need to do to bridge them

Is there a difference between what shoppers expect from Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) and store associates when it comes to customer service? Research shows that regardless of engagement, in person or over the phone, customers want a personalised and seamless service. Equipping associates and CSRs alike with the same omni-channel data, such as a 360-degree view of the customer and their history, has the potential to drive loyalty, inspire positive word-of-mouth and increase sales.

1. Why Getting Customer Service Right Matters

Resolving customer problems with speed and agility requires overcoming the common issues of a legacy system. When addressed effectively, modern retailers have an edge. Eliminating repetitive information and processes that result from a motley mix of customer service, data access and authorisation systems, makes customers happy and more loyal. Creating airtight customer service from the call centre to the store requires an interface that minimises clicks, screen swapping and phone calls to check store inventory.

Call centre reps and store associates both need to achieve a seamless integration of a 360-degree view of orders and transactions, accepting multiple tenders, applying in-store promotions to online orders, online shopping cart and wish list contents visibility, order history across all channels, payment adjustments and uneven cross-channel returns and exchanges

2. Repair and Strengthen the Customer Service Foundation

Service is customers’ top priority, surpassing product quality and price. Regardless of the customer service channel, order management is where customer service chaos starts to get tamed. Why? Older technologies such as IVR and the newest customer service tools like Facebook Messenger Bots work better with order management. This is because order management supplies the customer and inventory data that a store associate, CSR or even an artificial intelligence (AI) powered chat bot needed to handle customer inquiries. Adding order management helps you extend the life of systems you have today with an eye toward future growth.

More retailers are enabling flexible fulfilment options. Orders can get placed anywhere, fulfilled from anywhere, delivered anywhere and returned anywhere. But when it comes to customer inquiries about order status, purchase history, and return/ exchange requests, the store and the call centre rarely see the same information. Customers get frustrated when placed on hold while a CSR hunts for information about order history and network inventory by switching among multiple screens and systems. Even worse than waiting, the customer is told that what she is asking to do isn’t possible. Solving the problem requires authorised associates —in the call centre and on the store floor alike—be given access to data and tools that create a seamless customer service experience.

3. Order Management Revolutionises Service

Order Management is the backbone of omni-Channel customer service. With a comprehensive, channel-agnostic view of customer history, employees are empowered to set a personal tone and delight the customer through service. Order management provides a window into enterprise and network inventory visibility—or what’s available to sell. Pricing, customer purchase history, order status, and returns and exchanges, all of which move omni-channel retailers toward channel agnostic customer service interactions and brand experiences, are underpinned by order management. They also serve as the system of record for a 360-degree view of the customer, including past returns and exchanges. It doesn’t matter where an order starts or where returns and exchanges take place. New orders can be fulfilled—and past orders serviced—from anywhere. The task at hand, then, is to build an omnichannel customer service platform around order management data, and to get that data in the hands of customer-facing associates.

4. Some things just work better together.

Order management is the backbone of omni-channel customer service, offering all the functional services that can play into any channel—from inventory and customer visibility to payment, settlement, fulfilment, sales posting, refunds and exchanges.

Store, social and e-commerce each have strengths when it comes to customer engagement. But there’s a common thread that runs through each channel: the need for outstanding customer service. Robust customer service that spans online and in-store makes the overall brand experience better for everyone. And it pays off—there’s a solid line that connects customer service and repeat business