Remaining Competitive in Retail: How to Optimize Customer Experience

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In retail, the customer is king. It is common knowledge that the retail industry thrives on positive customer interactions and feedback, so when reviewing the ways in which organizations can grow and remain competitive in their field, it is vital to craft plans that revolve around optimizing the customer experience.

For retail business, the customer journey extends far beyond the initial sales engagement. Lasting brand loyalty is cultivated from continuous service throughout the lifecycle of any particular product and managing these engagements for quality can be difficult when multiple players are involved. When an appliance, device or system requires at-home service or repair, customers are usually connected with an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) who will leverage a contracted workforce to carry out these services. By integrating new digital field service management (FSM) solutions, retailers can maintain control of the complete customer journey, even when relying on third-party entities.

Adhere to changing expectations

According to Gartner, by the end of this year 85% of customer service interactions will start with self-service. The best field service solutions will include consumer portals that can make scheduling service visits easy for customers by offering control over their experience. Customers want to take control of their experiences and have the most streamlined service process possible. Self-service scheduling provides the flexibility to make appointments on their own time through an integrated branded portal, without the need to stay on hold with a call center. Consumers are empowered to upload relevant photos and equipment information based on their repair request and view their service history and product details online.

Additionally, clients can use this portal to track estimated time of arrival updates for technicians and receive real-time notifications from their servicer so they know when the representative will arrive or when to expect delays. Access to this information ahead of a service visit makes customers more informed and actively engaged in the process, building their faith in the technician and company before the site visit begins. Self-service is a proven necessity to providing a positive customer experience as 88% of customers now expect a company’s website to include a self-service application.

Increase service and revenue opportunities

As customers are taking more control of their own service requests through customer portals, retailers can use the opportunity to engage in sales opportunities. Even when customers are transitioned to a third-party servicer, retailers can use FSM to upsell and cross-sell to increase revenue. These are important strategies for retailers to build long-term financial viability, which allows them to keep prices low to maintain a competitive advantage, and with customized ads and targeted sales for each customer based on their specific products, retailers can up and cross-sell product enhancements or new models through the technicians who are already onsite or through the customer portal.

Also, by expanding technician knowledge of specific clients and their purchasing history through software-driven comprehensive customer profiles, service visits become an opportunity for retailers to exhibit their understanding of each customer by customizing each experience. Technicians have access to records from FSM and CRM software to glean actionable insights, ensuring that they can provide better service by satisfying the customer’s needs and addressing upcoming problems in one visit. This interpersonal engagement will maintain customer loyalty and drive revenue growth, as 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that provide offers and recommendations that are relevant to them, according to Accenture.

Enhance performance

Field service management software can track this additional income and further increase retail revenue through actionable data analytics that monitor business performance and promote better decision-making. Businesses can track operational key performance indicators (KPIs), enhance forecasting and planning, and collaborate with third parties to optimize an end-to-end customer experience. Data analytics enable organizations to unify reporting and map demand to capacity and have been shown to increase customer retention by 42% and service profits by 18%.

Not only can this technology help business analytics, but FSM can also increase the efficiency of service operators. Through optimized scheduling and AI-based inventory management, FSM can ensure that technicians are intelligently scheduled based on their skill set and location and arrive with the parts necessary to complete the job. This capability not only quells a major customer complaint of low first-time fix-rates, but it also maximizes each technician’s efficiency through route planning, decreasing turnaround times and improving SLA compliance.

FSM allows retailers to monitor every detail of the service process as it happens, allowing them to manage the customer journey and coordinate with third-party workers and suppliers when product service is requested. Through intelligent scheduling, KPI tracking and customer portals, retailers can grow their business while continuing to personalize service experiences to each client, reaffirming brand loyalty and maximizing business outcomes.

 About the Author

Brad Hawkins has been with ServicePower since 2004, where he currently serves as Senior Vice President of Products and Solutions and oversees operations, development and product management. A long time veteran in the world of field service technology, Brad brings more than 20 years of experience in work force management software.

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